Thespians Asterisks: A Guide to Understanding the Symbol of Excellence in Theater
As an avid theater-goer, you’ve probably noticed the asterisks that sometimes appear next to a performer’s name in a playbill or production credits. But what do these symbols mean?
The asterisks are actually a designation given to members of Thespian societies, organizations that honor and support high school theater students. The International Thespian Society (ITS), the largest and oldest of these societies, was founded in 1929 and currently has over 6,000 member schools worldwide.
To become a member of ITS, a student must have completed at least ten hours of work in a school theater production, with at least one of those hours as a lead or featured role. They must also maintain a GPA of at least 2.5 and be in good standing with their school and community. Upon acceptance, the student is given a Thespian pin and becomes an official member of the society.
But the asterisks symbolize something even more special. Only those who have excelled in their theater work and demonstrated exceptional dedication to the craft are eligible for the coveted “Thespian Asterisk,” which is awarded to a select few members each year.
To earn an asterisk, a student must complete an additional 50 hours of theater work, with at least 20 of those hours as a lead or featured role. They must also demonstrate leadership and service to their school and community theater programs. The process is rigorous and competitive, but the reward is well worth it.
In addition to recognition and pride, Thespian Asterisk recipients also receive exclusive opportunities and resources, including access to college and career resources, scholarship opportunities, and leadership training. They also have the opportunity to attend the annual International Thespian Festival, a week-long event featuring workshops, performances, and networking with theater professionals.
So next time you see those asterisks next to a performer’s name, you’ll know it’s a symbol of excellence in theater. And if you’re a high school theater student looking to take your passion to the next level, consider joining a Thespian society and working towards earning your own asterisks. It will be a journey filled with hard work and dedication, but the rewards and opportunities that come with it are truly unparalleled.