International Thespian Society: A welcoming stage for theatrical expression

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By Grethel Muralles and Hanna Kim

Enter a room covered wall to wall in classic movie and play posters, and filled from corner to corner with teenagers. “Wicked,” “Sweeney Todd,” “Amadeus,” and “Grease,” hang on the walls like trophies, but the focus is on three students acting out a scene in the middle of the class. “I have chickens,” said one of the students. “Ding!” President Angelica Basilio said. “I have Indonesian chickens,” the student retorts, and the whole class bursts into laughter. Students are relaxed on couches, sitting in chairs, or leaning on their friends, but their gaze is focused on the scene unfolding before them.

Every Thursday during lunch, students of all grades gather in B15 to experience the joys of acting and performing.

The International Thespian Society is a drama club mainly focused on improvisation exercises. Their main goal is to expose the theatrical arts to those who may not be able to take the drama class because of a lack of space in their schedules.

According to the Associated Student Body (ASB) reports on weekly club statistics, the International Thespian Society has become the most popular club on campus. Basilio credits the members with the club’s popularity.

“A lot of people are not afraid to be themselves and to express who they are. When students are bold enough to make the decision to go up on stage, everyone else encourages them. The excitement just snowballs until everyone wants to go up,” Basilio said.

Every week, the club has a different improvisation game for its members to play. One of the most popular has been a game called Freeze and Ding. Freeze starts with two volunteers, instructed to act out a scene in a certain setting. Once the president, or the presiding supervisor, calls “Freeze,” the next person must take an actor’s place. The second, Ding, is similar to the first game, except the actors must switch their lines whenever the supervisor yells “Ding.” This goes on until the supervisor is satisfied

Though these games may seem intimidating when done in front of the entire club, Basilio claims that shyness has become less of a problem over time.

“There definitely were some people in the beginning who would not want to go on stage, especially if they were new. Now, there are too many people who want to go on stage, and I can never choose all of them. These activities are just so fun to participate in, and when people act in front of others, they are being role models for those who are new to theater,” Basilio said.

When looking at the trends of popular clubs in the previous years, there is a discernable pattern in the group dynamic and goals of the clubs. Last year’s “Most Popular Club,” La Familia, focused on highlighting Latino culture by bringing together upper and lowerclassmen to develop a mentor-mentee relationship. Though this culture club may seem quite different from a drama club, both encourage close interactions between members to express themselves in ways that they would not normally be able to do outside of the club.

Though, tt’s not about the numbers. The goal of every club is to let these students, who are no doubt tired by the school’s rigorous workload, express themselves freely in the fleeting 33 minutes of lunch. Though the large following of the International Thespian Society may represent the popularity to the rest of the student body, those who are part of the club know that it is the undying passion and sense of community that is the true reason for its growth.

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Author: Grethel Muralles

"Maybe it's just in America, but it seems that if you're passionate about something, it freaks people out. You're considered bizarre or eccentric. To me, it means you just know who you are." -Tim Burton "Visions are worth fighting for. Why spend your life making someone else's dreams?" -Tim Burton

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