Thespian Club’s revival offers fresh opportunities

By NinaMcMullen

Many Marian girls skim over potential clubs to join as a form of window shopping. A new addition to the docket this year is the Thespian Club (also known as the drama club). After the club’s unfortunate demise in 1994, a revival was in order. Junior Maddie Smith took on the challenge and now has a space to channel her lifelong love of drama.

Thespians: Front Row: Margaret McGill ’24, Abi Howard ’24, Maddie Smith ’24, Isi Raczynski ’23, Shelby Gerken ’24, Hannah Butler ’24, Mrs. Michelle Delisi. Back Row: Tessa Brooks ’24, Annie Stessman ’25, Kaylene Bialas ’25, Jadin Martinez ’24, Helen Christen ’26, Sophia Sparwasser ’26, Crystal Bakyaw ’26, Hannah Taylor ’26. The Thespian Club joins for club photos on Nov. 30. Photo by Ally Ravnsborg.

When Smith was 9 years old, she “tried out for A Christmas Carol and snowballed from there.” She continued, saying, “I kept auditioning and now it’s kind of like an escape, in a way.” She values the ability to put herself in someone else’s shoes while acting and not having to worry about the issues in her personal life. 

Theater remains a major part of Smith’s life as she takes on her most recent production of “The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical.” She was cast as Annabeth, a lead role in the Rose Theater’s adaptation. The musical’s opening night is Friday, Jan. 20 and will close Sunday, Feb. 5. 

From her love of theater came a desire to bring the Thespian Club to the halls of Marian. “A lot of my friends at other schools talk about the Nebraska Thespian Festival and I really want to participate so I reached out to Mrs. Delisi.” Mrs. Michelle Delisi is the director of Marian Theatrical Productions along with many other jobs within the Performing Arts Center, making her the perfect moderator for the club. 

Smith told Delisi of her passion for this club and her drive to restart and keep it going. This year, she is planning a slate of guest speakers such as a Marian graduate who has gone on to do theater in Chicago and New York, a playwright and a director to “cover all the bases of theater.”

The International Thespian Society logo. Image source: Educational Theater Association. 

In the long run, Smith envisions active participation from the Marian community. She wishes for Thespian Club to eventually become a certified Thespian Troupe and a member of the International Thespian Society. ITS provides students credibility and distinction along with being the only theater honor society for high school and middle schools. 

More than 2.4 million members have been inducted since its beginnings in 1929. ITS at each school is known as a troupe. Each troupe is led by a troupe director.

In order to earn higher honors, a point system is in place to track the work of each student. Becoming a member of the ITS would come with frequent meetings and fun outings such as seeing shows together or doing workshops around Omaha dealing with various jobs around a theater set.

Smith also wants to make it clear that acting experience is not a requirement to be a Thespian. “The greatest thing you can do for yourself is to take that initial step and try something new. The most harmful thing is to hold yourself back.” Smith said, “theater is meant to be otherworldly. If you’re worried about being judged, you’re missing the point.” 

Overall, Thespian Club can offer girls a unique opportunity to find themselves and learn about the world around them. For girls looking to join the club, they meet the second Friday of every month at 7:15 a.m. in the Performing Arts Center. A quick email to Smith (24.madeleine.smith@omahamarian.org) or Delisi (delisi@omahamarian.org) is the perfect way to launch a new-found love of theater.

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