Thespian Democracyworks Essay Competition

The Educational Theatre Association’s tenth annual Democracyworks Essay Competition is open to all Thespians members.

Democracyworks 2018 Guidelines

At the 2017 EdTA Conference, keynote speaker Patricia Raun spoke passionately about the role of empathy in our society and the need for students to develop “muscles of empathy, authenticity, trust, awareness, and flexibility.” Noting the decline in public civility and the rise of narcissism in recent years, Raun went on to say, “There are many challenges we face as a society but in my opinion few tools are more important to our survival than the desire to see through someone else’s eyes. The most important ethical choices of our time require us to understand the experiences of other people, and the willingness to put the well-being of others above our own desires. This requires a balance between analytical thinking and empathetic thinking.”

Bearing in mind Raun’s comments, students are asked to respond to this question:
“How can theatre and other arts nurture dialogue and understanding between individuals with differing points of view?

The Educational Theatre Association will choose one essay winner based on his or her response to the above question.

Eligibility: Any inducted member of the International Thespian Society (by March 1, 2018) who is enrolled in middle or high school during the 2017-18 school year may submit an essay. Important: If your essay is selected you must be available to attend Arts Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C., March 12-13. EdTA will pay $1,500 towards the cost of travel and attendance for the winner and a chaperone. The winner is responsible for any remaining costs of attendance. The winner will also receive a $250 cash prize; the first runner-up will be awarded $150; the second runner-up, $100. Previous winners are not eligible.

Arts Advocacy Day, sponsored by the Washington, D.C.-based Americans for the Arts, brings together arts advocates from throughout the country to meet with legislators on behalf of a wide range of arts issues, including arts education. The winning essayist will take part in all scheduled Arts Advocacy Day events, including legislative training on current arts issues circulating on Capitol Hill; the Congressional Arts Breakfast; visits to representatives’ and senators’ offices; and the Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Essay guidelines: Essayists should consider how theatre and other arts can help promote dialogue and understanding between individuals with differing points of view.

Submission procedures: All essays must be between 500-700 words, based on the prompt, and submitted electronically on Academicworks. Essays should be double-spaced, in 12-point type, using Word software (or a comparable word-processing program). Please fill out all required fields in the Academicworks general application. Title your essay “Thespian Democracyworks Essay.” All participants will receive an auto-reply confirming receipt of their essay; semi-finalists will be contacted by e-mail after the essay review process is completed, around February 9th. The winner and runners-up will be chosen by February 15.

Awards: The winner will receive $1,500 toward expenses to attend Arts Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C., March 12-13, 2018, plus $250 cash. In addition to this, the winning essay and a photo of the winner will be published in Dramatics Magazine. The first runner-up essayist will be awarded $150, and second runner-up, $100.

Rights: Your essay is protected by copyright from the moment it is created. By submitting to the Educational Theatre Association, you are agreeing to allow EdTA to publish your essay in print and online.

The Deadline for submission is February 1, 2018

This opportunity is for an inducted Thespian of the International Thespian Society (ITS), the student honorary organization of the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA).

The Educational Theatre Association
Samuel French
Supplemental Questions
  1. Thespian Information
    • 1. Are you an inducted Thespian?
    • 2. If you are a Thespian: Please enter your 6-digit ID number found on your membership card.
    • 3. Please enter the name of your High School.
    • 4. Please enter your Troupe number.
    • 5. Please enter the name of the Troupe Director.
  2. Please upload your Democracyworks essay based off the following prompt: “How can theatre and other arts nurture dialogue and understanding between individuals with differing points of view?*
  3. I understand that if my essay is selected I must be available to attend Arts Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C., March 12-13 2018