Members of the Newly Formed WCA Thespian Society Travel to Kansas City for a Conference


Michael Lee, Matthew Culligan, Alyssa Pritchett, and Hannah Stevenson participate in a Hamilton dance workshop. Photo by Isabella Francois

Over the weekend of Jan. 17, when most WCA students were enjoying their long weekend due to a snow day on Friday, WCA theatre students were traveling to Kansas City, MO, for a theatre convention put on by the International Thespians Society.

“Thespians is somewhat equivalent to something like the National Honour Society for Theatre people. It is meant to connect anyone who has a love and passion for the Theatre, both technical and performance. Thespians unites teachers and students from all over the country to foster community and encourage excellence in the Arts,” explained Jim Butz, upper school drama teacher.

The 2019-2020 school year has been a foundational year for the Thespian Society at Westminster.   

“This year was the first year that we really got into it. We held meetings and decided that we really wanted to go to the State Conference. Mr. Butz talked to Mr. Schwamb and Mr. Gall and the preparations for the trip began,” said Hannah Stevenson, senior and member of the society.

At the conference, students were able to learn about theatre in a variety of different ways. They were able to attend workshops, participate in competitions, and watch other schools perform.

“Each day, right after breakfast, we would all branch out and do workshops pretty much all day. There were a ton of different [workshops] offered from dancing to Shakespeare to juggling. During the workshops, there were also individual [competitions] which you could register for and perform. Elizabeth, Michael, Hannah, and I all got superiors (the highest rating) on our respective events. After the workshops, we would all meet together to eat dinner, and at the end of each day we would all go see a schools’s play that had been nominated for awards in the state,” explained Ella Polski, another senior and member of the society.”

The Superior award results were released on Monday, Jan. 20, and many members of the society received superior marks for their performances in many different categories.

“This year we competed in several categories: Solo Musical Performance (Elizabeth Nolting), Independent Film (Matteo Zavaglia), Solo Monologue (Michael Lee), and Duet Scene (Ella Polski and Hannah Stevenson). Each category is adjudicated by a panel of Theatre Educators who rate the student’s performance on a scale of 1 (Fair) to 4 (Superior). Our students almost exclusively were awarded Superior ratings in every category. For our first year I couldn’t be happier with those results and more proud of our student’s achievements,” said Butz.

In addition to their success in competition, the students also learned about character and success from professionals in the field.

“At the very beginning of the trip, an actress from Broadway gave a speech to commence the weekend. One of the things she talked about in her speech was the fact that the people who are the most successful and the best to work with are always the kindest, more selfless people,” explained Polski.

The Thespian Society is a fantastic way for theatre students to get involved with the broader theatre community as well to learn about their craft. Being a part of the Thespian Society is more than just a club; it is a community that emphasizes the importance of arts education.

“Being a part of Thespians matters because Arts Education matters. It changes lives. Study after study tells us that students who are committed to the arts and receive a proper education, flourish in almost every area of their lives as a result. Arts Education increases creativity, empathy, communication, literacy, the list goes on and on. It is not a cute add-on or afterthought in the formation of well rounded human beings. Arts Education is indispensable. Especially as Christians, we need to be seriously committed to the arts as we seek to engage and influence the culture around us. Retreat is not an option and excellence is the goal. The International Thespian Society helps us toward that end,” concluded Butz.