In 2019, the International Thespian Festival marked a milestone: the end of a successful 25-year run at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. In 2020, ITF will move to Indiana University Bloomington, once again giving the event room to grow and flourish. For this Thespian Throwback, Dramatics rewound to the last time EdTA announced a big ITF move — when UNL was selected as the new site for the 1995 event.

AFTER MONTHS OF SITE-SHOPPING and consideration, the International Thespian Society has announced a change of scene for the 1995 Thespian Festival. Having gathered at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, for the past 24 years, ITS is taking its show on the road and a few states to the left — to the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, to be precise.

Several factors weighed in the decision to move the festival to Nebraska, said Nancy Brown, festival chair. The location is almost perfectly central (Lincoln is only about 125 miles from the geographic center of the continental United States) and is more easily accessible than Muncie by air, train, and interstate highway. The university’s theatre facilities are convenient and first-rate, and its residence halls are completely air-conditioned, something that anyone who attended the 1994 Thespian Festival will be thrilled to learn. The city (population 200,000) is home to an Equity theatre company — Nebraska Rep — and offers good shopping and dining near campus.

Thespians participate in an African and Caribbean dance workshop at the 1995 International Thespian Festival.
Thespians participate in an African and Caribbean dance workshop at the 1995 International Thespian Festival. Photo by Don Corathers.

Main stage events will take place in the Lied Center for Performing Arts, a 2,290-seat venue built in 1989. Its backstage area connects to two smaller theatres, Kimball Hall (849 seats) and the black box Johnny Carson Theatre (300 seats). These performance areas are soundproof and have adequate support facilities to run three shows simultaneously. Workshop facilities, Brown said, are more plentiful and suited to theatre training.

“We’ve had a good run at Ball State,” said Brown. “We’ve put on some great festivals there. But Nebraska is offering us an opportunity to grow and take this event to the next level, and we can’t pass that up. We’re very excited.”

Unless you live near Muncie or Lincoln, the move will probably not substantially affect the cost of attending the festival. Transportation costs will go up for some, down for others, depending on where they’re coming from.

This story appeared in the September 1994 print version of Dramatics. Learn about the print magazine and other Thespian benefits on the International Thespian Society website.

International Thespian Society 90th birthday logo
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