Actors – you’ve gotta give them props

Junior becomes Texas State Thespian Officer


Photo by Alyssa Higgins

Junior Shelby Steele acts with senior Andrew Davis during Metamorphoses. Many hours of practice went into this play.

Story by Sophie Spakes, staff writer

Timeless hours spent in leadership workshops. Days of indecision, deliberating whether to even try. Despite her uncertainty, she was determined. When she decided she wanted to be a state thespian officer, she was not going to back away from that goal.

Junior Shelby Steele was elected as a Texas State Thespian Officer on Nov. 17 at the Texas Thespians Festival.

“Last summer our troupe officers and I went to a leadership workshop Texas’ [State Thespian Officers) were running,” Steele said.

Curious, Steele sought to learn more about the position. She attended the International Thespian Festival in Nebraska in the summer of 2018. After learning more about STOs, she deliberated if it was right for her.

“I’ve known about the position since my freshman year when I was working to be inducted into our school’s troupe,” Steele said. “Over time, I learned a little more about the STOs at state and international festivals. I took a while after that to seriously consider if it was something I wanted to go for.”

Steele knew the position was hardly a handout. It would require dedication and a commitment to her goal. She completed a rigorous process to apply. Not just anyone can get in, there are applications to fill out and waiting to do.

“I had to go through the application process, interviews, leadership workshops, three work days and some other things,” Steele said. “We were told that our director would receive a phone call around 1 a.m. that night with my result.”

The position of STO is highly sought after, and competition is fierce. Despite the allure of the position’s honor and perks, many candidates drop out.

The position requires a multitude of hours spent traveling and at meetings, but it won’t all start until February.

“I have video conferences/meetings at least once a month until February. Starting in February, I officially have the STO title,” Steele said. “The STOs represent all troupes/thespians in Texas, so I’m going to get to travel and meet a ton of people. I haven’t had to do much work for it yet, but the way one of the STOs described the workload to me was, ‘It won’t take over your life, only like three-fourths of it.’”

One of her primary responsibilities will be planning the Texas Thespian Festival in November, which will have about 9,000 in attendance.

“Another big part of the job is public speaking, so you learn how to be super comfortable with that,” Steele said. “You learn leadership skills and then teach other theater students in workshops throughout the term. You have no choice but to learn time management and organizational skills.”

Even though she is uncertain of everything the job entails, Steele is ready to put her skills to the test.

“They told us all of this at a festival, but honestly, we don’t know exactly what we are getting ourselves into yet” Steele said. “It’s something that you just have to jump into.”