Dale Tanner, president of Leigh’s theater club answers some interview questions.
What is the International Thespian Society and how does the “point” system work?
The International Thespian Society is an organization dedicated to supporting and providing opportunities for Theater students everywhere (think of it like a National Honors Society, but for Theater). Our school has a troupe (Troupe #7618) that is registered with ITS. ITS hosts a variety of festivals throughout the year that allow students from various different troupes to meet, participate in workshops, compete, and enjoy all things theater. The Points system is a way of ranking each members’ place within ITS; the more performances you participate in at your school, the more points you earn, and the higher you rank within ITS. There are a variety of levels, the highest being the International Honors Thespian (that’s me!).
What types of activities has this club done over the years?
The Leigh High School Theater Club obviously plays a part in the five mainstage productions Leigh (usually) puts on each year — the Summer Musical (which is student led), the Haunted House (also student directed), the Fall Play (staff directed), the Winter Play (student led), and the Spring Musical (staff directed) — but also plays a huge role in our troupe, which I mentioned earlier. Our troupe (Troupe #7618) goes to a variety of festivals and competitions including the Northern California One Act festival (which we’ve won twice within the last three years!), the California Thespian Festival, and the International Thespian Festival. All in all, if you’re really involved in the Leigh High School’s theater club, between rehearsals for mainstage productions and practicing for competitions and preparation for festivals, there’s never a dull moment!
How have you adjusted to an online format this year?
Adjusting to an online format within a performing arts club has certainly had its difficulties, to say the least. So much of theater is lost when that in-person element is taken away, but with that said, we’ve managed to still have several performance and technical opportunities for our theater students this year. At the beginning of the year, we produced a socially distanced version of our Haunted House in the parking lot called “Fear Factory.” As always, the production was completely student directed and student written, but because of the limitations on the number of people allowed to be involved in the production, all of the actors involved also had to work as members of the build crew, which was a great opportunity for them to try out something new. We’ve also produced several radio plays (all of which have been student directed), which has been a lot of fun and a fantastic way for both our actors and technicians to try out a new format for performance. Additionally, in March, we put on our “High School Experience Showcase,” where students submitted video performances of scenes, songs, and dances that they thought represented their journey in high school so far.
Do you have any favorite memories or moments from the club?
One of my favorite moments has got to be when we won Chapter Select at the California State Thespian Festival with our One Act cutting of “Spring Awakening.” We had been disqualified from the One Act Festival that year on a technicality, and so we had to submit our pre-recorded show for the State competition. Winning after all that hassle was just so much sweeter, and it meant that we got to perform our piece at the International Thespian Festival to students from all around the globe! I would say another one of my favorite moments within the Leigh High School Theater Club isn’t so much a specific memory, but more just the overall experience of getting to direct the summer musical “Freaky Friday” alongside now-alumni Lauren Sung and Isabel Thomas. It was my first time getting to have such an influential leadership role, and the support and energy from both the cast and the crew made that summer truly a magical one.
Any final comments?
If you’re a student who is at all curious in checking out the Leigh High School Theater Club, I highly encourage you to do so. I know that I wouldn’t be the person I am today without it. And if you’re reading this and thinking, “Wow, all of that sounds kind of overwhelming,” I promise you that it’s not (or at least, it doesn’t have to be). As other members of the Theater Club will tell you, most people do not actually participate in every single opportunity that is offered to them — I just like to balance a lot on my plate — and juggling theater alongside academics and a social life is totally manageable.