IT’S SAFE TO SAY Emily Martin’s yearbook caption could read “most likely to be found in a theatre.” Among her long list of related achievements, the senior was the first Olathe North High School student elected as a Kansas State Thespian Officer in 2018, is the president of Thespian Troupe 3310 (one of the state’s largest), and serves as the chair of this year’s class of International Thespian Officers.

Martin caught the theatre bug the first semester of her freshman year, helping with construction and running crew for her school’s production of Inspecting Carol. That same year, she discovered her theatre calling as an assistant stage manager for the main stage musical The Addams Family. Since then, Martin has held technical theatre roles in more than 16 shows at Olathe North and in her community, with stage management experience including productions of Oklahoma!, Anatomy of Gray, The Little Mermaid, and The Sound of Music, among others.

Emily Martin advocating for theatre education during Theatre in Our Schools month.

Emily Martin advocating for theatre education during Theatre in Our Schools month. Photo courtesy of Emily Martin.

Martin attended her first state festival as a sophomore, qualifying for an invitation to the International Thespian Festival with her Individual Event performance in stage management. Since then, she’s earned superior ratings every year, and she’ll be competing once more in June. This summer, her high school career will come to a memorable close as the stage manager for the Kansas Thespians All-State main stage production of Bring It On at ITF.

In her rare time outside the stage management booth, Martin plays cello in the school orchestra and is president of Olathe North’s National Honor Society. She shares her love of science as a member of the Faraday Society, a group of students who conduct demonstrations to teach elementary and middle school kids about chemistry. Plus, she loves to read and write (she’s a founding member of the Olathe North Writing Center) or simply enjoy quiet movie nights at home with her family.

What made you fall in love with theatre?
Both of my parents were very involved in theatre in high school, onstage and off. I grew up hearing their stories, and I knew that I wanted to try it for myself. I started doing tech theatre in middle school and loved it, so I continued at the high school level, which seemed like a completely different world to me. Stage managing The Addams Family my freshman year is definitely what made me fall in love with theatre. I had so much fun interacting with both the technical and performing sides of the production, and I loved staying busy and organized throughout the rehearsal process.

What is your favorite high school theatre memory to date? 
Stage managing Bring It On with Kansas Thespians over the last year has definitely been a highlight of my high school theatre experience. It’s been incredible getting to know and work with other students and directors from all across the state, and my stage management skills have grown so much. I am so grateful for every minute I get to spend with each person involved, and I can’t wait for us to take on ITF this summer.

As an ITO, you enjoy unique opportunities to travel to state festivals, participate in national advocacy, and represent Thespians at events. What has been your favorite experience?
I first learned about what the ITO do at my state festival my junior year. What ultimately pushed and inspired me to apply was my adopted sister. After spending many years in foster care, moving among homes and schools, she was several grade levels behind in her education.

Getting involved in her school play last year allowed her to read and memorize lines and perform onstage in front of an audience. She made new friends, gained confidence, and passed an entire grade level of English for the first time that year. Personally seeing the power of theatre to change lives inspired me to apply for an ITO position.

My favorite experience as an ITO has been meeting different people from across the country while I’ve traveled. No matter how far away from home I am, I never feel far away when I’m around Thespians. States may be different, but Thespians are the same wherever you go. I’m so grateful for the friends I’ve met along the way and for all those I stay in touch with.

Will you pursue theatre after high school?
After high school, I’m definitely planning to study theatre in college. It is a goal to stage manage a show on Broadway someday, but I also hope to use my college education to make a difference in the lives of others through some combination of teaching, championing for arts education, or even stepping into the political arena to make changes for the arts through policy-making.

What advice would you give other students just beginning their Thespian journey?
I enjoy the Thespian community the most. There are so many connections I’ve made through Thespians that I know I wouldn’t have otherwise. My advice is not to be afraid to reach out to people you’ve never met before. I’ve yet to meet an unwelcoming Thespian.

Follow the International Thespian Officers on Instagram @thespiansociety.

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