Initiations
Rituals, festivals, holidays

International Thespian Society Initiation

There are a lot of ritualistic things that theatre people do – can you talk about one of them that you partake in or have done?

I remember in high school there was this whole ritual for joining the International Thespian Society. Which is a thing apparently. And when you performed in two productions at my school, you qualified to join this society. And all that was required of you was two days. One day you had to come in dressed based on whatever theme was going that year – for us it was fake Greek gods. So I had a robe on and cat ears, and I was a cat god- because nothing better than cat gods in any sort of area. The second day was a Saturday where we showed up to school, no one was there —

When did you dress up as a cat god? Where was it that you had to do that?

At school. During a school day. All day. Every student had a bunch of questions. I was just – “I have to do this to join the International Thespian Society. I’m a theatre student. You should know me by now.”

Saturday we showed up to school, no one was there – it was about me, and some other people. And then one of the theatre students I knew well, Gabi, I believe she walked up and said “Ok, we’re going to blindfold all of you.”

How many were there?

There were – I think it was twelve? And it was just her. And then all of these other people showed up and blindfolded us. And essentially what they did – they first off started shouting abusive things at us, which I suppose is part of any initation ceremony – so there was that. And we had to put our hands on each others shoulders and had to walk around our school just blindfolded, trying to help each other out, saying “ok, there’s a step right there, watch out.” And then finally we entered my theatre room, which at the time was just like – was very cramped, small, room, which wasn’t in very good condition. But they had it completely candle-lit, which was lovely. And we took our blindfolds off and had to recite some – thing. Some speech. Which we did. And we were all accepted in! And then afterwards it was very nice, there was a jovial feast, and then our final part of that day was we each had to perform something. Um – which none of us knew about. We had to essentially improvise something related to the theme earlier, the fake Greek gods. So I did my thing about being a cat god, and what it’s like to be a Greek cat god – you don’t get much respect in Greece as you do in Egypt. So that sort of thing. So – and yeah, that was about it. That was the whole initiation into the International Thespian Society.

I take it you enjoyed the process?

Overall. I mean, it could have been politer during the abusive compliments. But I don’t hold it against them.

What year were you?

I was a senior a the time.

You never took part in the ritual with those later?

No, I didn’t, because I got into theatre very late in the game. I like – uh – when I was a freshman, second semester I said “Hey, that theatre looks sort of fun, I should try that.” Then tenth grade – we put on like three productions per year. And I tried out for all of them, didn’t get in to any of them. So that was disappointing. But then over the summer I went to this summer theatre camp where I played Greg from A Chorus Line who’s just fantastically gay. And has a song about hiding an erection – in front of a lot of young kids. So obviously… their parents enjoyed it. And then I came back, eleventh grade, and got Lloyd Dallas in Noises Off! So that was like my first production, and yeah.

 

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Informant took part in the ceremony when being initiated, and it marked an achievement in their life. They never got to experience it on the other end, which maybe makes it a more magical experience

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