Thousands of theater and arts lovers will continue to call UNL their one-week home each June. The university and the Thespian Festival – which attracts more than 2,500 attendees to campus each year – have renewed an agreement that ensures the university will host the annual event through 2019.
The festival, hosted by the Educational Theatre Association, has become a campus tradition, hosting the thousands of student attendees and their teachers each summer.
Kat Fischer, the association’s marketing manager, said the organization was excited to renew its relationship with UNL for the next several years.
“We’ve built great relationships with people (at UNL) who we look forward to seeing every year,” Fischer said from the association’s headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio. “It’s like a big family, since we’ve been there for so long. (UNL) makes it easy for us to host an event of this size.”
High school students, teachers, and artists from across the country attend the festival, where they have options of more than 100 workshops in topics such as stage makeup, stage combat, set building and playwriting. The event also hosts a handful of main stage shows put on by high-school theater troupes and seen by the entire delegation.
UNL offers many amenities for the festival-goers. While on campus, thespians stay in residence halls and eat in dining halls, including Harper-Schramm-Smith and Abel-Sandoz, said Tony Rathgeber, UNL conference services and events manager.
In addition to housing, the university provides classroom and workshop space for participants, including spaces in the Temple Building and Westbrook Music Building, as well as the Lied Center for Performing Arts. The Lied Center also can hold all conference participants for festival-wide performances.
“This year we are expecting more people than ever, so to work out a system to seat everyone to see the shows is huge,” she said. Bill Stephan, executive director of the Lied Center, said the university and the Lied Center are thrilled to be able to continue to host the festival.
“It is a perfect fit with the Lied Center’s mission to educate, inspire and entertain,” Stephan said. “This coming summer will mark the 20th festival held at the Lied Center and the university and we look forward to many more years of being part of this phenomenal event.”
Because most festival-goers are high school students, Rathgeber said the yearly event also is a great opportunity to show off UNL to prospective students.
“When it comes to getting the word out about UNL as a great place to attend college, I think their having a positive experience in the festival goes a long way to form that impression,” he said.
This year’s festival is June 23-28 at UNL.