Photos by Kevin George
The 2014 Junior Thespian Festival has begun! This year’s theme is Creative Conditions!
We will be blogging live from the event all weekend. Check back here to follow the excitement!
More than four hundred delegates from twenty-one schools in eight states are attending this year’s Junior Thespian Festival, hosted by Coppell Middle School West in Texas.
This weekend Junior Thespians and their educators will:
It’s going to be an amazing weekend. Stay tuned for more!!
I’m Tim Federle. I’m a writer and a performer. I might live in New York City now, but I can’t wait to come to Texas to work with you all at the Junior Thespian Festival. Everything’s bigger in the Lone Star state—just like it is on stage.
As a theatrical kid, I certainly acted “big” long before I made it out of the middle school auditorium and onto the professional stage. I’ve danced behind Christina Aguilera at the Super Bowl, acting in the original Broadway cast of The Little Mermaid, and coached the child stars of Billy Elliot. But before all that, I was fake crying my way out of gym class, reading every book on Stephen Sondheim I could find in my school library, and memorizing the lyrics to Les Misérables before I knew my state capitals.
Folks, I was a genuine theatre geek—though I got called far worse names than that. Where I grew up, it wasn’t popular to have artistic dreams. It was football or nothing. And that meant I amounted to nothing in the eyes of a lot of my peers.
I’m over it now. All of the things that got me picked on as a kid are the same things that get me paid now. And whether you end up becoming an actor, a lighting designer, or even a veterinarian, the skills you learn as a Junior Thespian will be used each day. Collaboration and creativity are key ingredients in every great job there out there.
I graduated high school as a proud Thespian. Years later, I became so inspired by the kids I worked with on Broadway that I wrote a novel about them. You never could have told middle school Tim that someday he’d be a writer. He was way too “destined for Broadway” to think he could slow down and tell a funny story. But dreams change, and careers can too. The number one thing I learned as a Thespian has served me as an actor, a writer, and a grown-up: your behavior backstage is just as important as your standing ovation. Be nice. Be gracious. Give opening night cards to the cast and to the doorman.
I’m looking forward to meeting you in Texas and hearing about your ambitions. When theatre geeks get together, “geek” gets cancelled. It’s just a group of passionate people celebrating the power of performing.
I’ll see you in line for BBQ. Just look for the Junior Thespian who never grew up.
Tim Federle grew up in San Francisco and Pittsburgh before moving to New York to dance on Broadway. He appeared in the The Little Mermaid and Gypsy before coaching the young stars of Billy Elliot. Federle’s debut novel, Better Nate Than Ever, was named a New York Times Editors’ Choice, an Amazon Best Book of the Year, and a Publishers Weekly Flying Start. Its forthcoming sequel, Five, Six, Seven, Nate!, has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus.
Federle will be at Junior Thespian Festival 2014 to present workshops for both students and teachers. He will also share his journey to Broadway through his own series of “Creative Conditions.”
Federle will be signing copies of both books in the Nate series.