You want to enter the International Thespian Excellence Awards to (hopefully!) win a Thespy. We want to help you shine as you take your best shot.

Qualifying for the International Thespian Festival (ITF) is your first step. That is where you will have the chance to win a Thespy Award and perform in the Thespy Showcase. Sure, current pandemic processes make the effort a bit more challenging. But focusing on the power in the process, rather than perfection in the product, helps you grow as a theatre artist. There will always be challenges of one sort or another. Brush up on your audition skills.

Maybe participating at a qualifying event is not possible for your chapter right now. That is okay because there is an alternate qualifier hosted by the Educational Theatre Association! Deadline for the qualifier is March 8, 2021, so you may have to hurry. Check this list to see if you are eligible for the alternate qualifier. 

Step 1. Choose your categories.
This is the most important step if you want to win a Thespy. Choose wisely because your choices will be your focus and should motivate you throughout the process.

This year (2021) students can submit in more than one category! If you are a techie who also belts out show tunes or are an actor who creates stunning hair and makeup designs, then you are in luck. Be realistic about your time constraints and explore all the categories your chapter event allows you to enter as you choose your categories.

Then, choose what excites and interests you. Perhaps you have started exploring new theatre disciplines during the pandemic. If so, choose a category that allows you to pursue that interest. When you do something that excites you, your passion will shine through your work.

Step 2. Choose your material.
Before you choose your category or materials, it is imperative that you understand the copyright, publishing, time limits, and other rules. Take time and review the Thespys Category Summary Guide. You may have a favorite song you would love to sing or a great monologue you have found online, but make sure your selection meets the requirements so that your submission will not be disqualified.

After reviewing the rules, consider CONNECTION. When you connect to material, your audience will connect to you. It is that simple. It could be the subject matter, a character’s story, or the vocal range of a song. No matter how you connect, trust your gut to know what is a good fit. But getting feedback from trusted advisors like teachers, mentors, and friends about what material they might recommend for you can help you chooses wisely, too. Others often see qualities in us that we do not, and their input can lead to finding pieces we would never consider.

After completing Steps 1 and 2, you are ready to register!

Step 3. Rehearse.
There is no set amount of rehearsal time that works for everyone. You will do better to consider how you might effectively rehearse your material. Always read the entire script of whatever you are presenting. If you have not read the entire script, you may misinterpret critical character or plot elements. Short or one-act plays are great resources for scene/monologue material.

Before you begin memorizing a musical or acting piece, you should do character analysis and beat work with the material. Memorization naturally occurs as you explore the pacing, pauses, movement, and other elements of the piece. Running through your material multiple times helps solidify your acting choices as you refine the vocal and physical components. If you want to be prepared and confident, allow yourself time to memorize and refine.

Students who earn superior scores and have the opportunity to showcase their material at the state or national level always seek feedback from several sources. Find people who will provide you honest and helpful feedback. Workshopping your material in front of your teacher/peers/mentors can serve to fine-tune already strong moments and help you strengthen weaker ones. This can take a little longer and be more challenging if you are not able to work with people in person but presenting in some virtual way is still preferable to getting no feedback at all.

Step 4. Prep for filming.
Consider the following as you prepare to record your work: location, lighting, sound quality, and recording equipment. Do whatever you can to film against a neutral background. Just like wearing all-black clothing is required to help adjudicators focus on the acting, a neutral background puts the focus on you instead of your surroundings.

Lighting that comes from overhead creates shadows on your face and makes it hard to see your expressions, so a lamp or natural lighting in front of you contributes to a clearer video. If you can, use a separate device for audio playback to avoid distortion during filming.

NOTE: Adjudicators will be understanding because of the unique circumstances we are all dealing with due to the pandemic. Do your best and follow these suggestions wherever you can.

Step 5. Create your video.
Finding a filming partner would be ideal, but if you are filming alone, be prepared to adjust your camera set-up multiple times. Use a tripod, a stack of books, or other means to get your camera angled straight on versus pointing up at you. If the camera angle is from below you, the adjudicator view is altered and can negatively impact how they see your facial expressions and/or movements. If possible, try to film from the knees up so that your hands are seen in the frame. Record about 30 seconds of yourself to check your framing, sound, and lighting before you record your full submission. Consider the adjudicators point of view as you look at your video.

Step 6. Submit.
You are now ready to submit your video through the designated event platform. Remember, your video must be accessible to the adjudicators. If you share a link, be certain that all sharing permissions are turned on. If the adjudicators cannot access your video, your work cannot be adjudicated. Be sure to also check the deadline including the time zone.

Step 7. Use your feedback.
Trained adjudicators work to provide helpful comments to encourage and help you grow. This feedback is priceless! For many of you, this will not be the last time you perform your material. Use the feedback you get to continue your exploration and fine-tune for future presentations.

Remember that the power of this process does not stop when the event ends. Reflecting on all you have learned while preparing and submitting your work will serve you well in all your future endeavors. Good luck and go win a Thespy!

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