Nearly 3,000 high school thespians erupted into cheers when Joe Norton, Broadway Cares’ director of education and outreach, surprised them at their national festival June 28, 2012, with the news they had crossed a major milestone: the International Thespian Society has now raised more than $1 million for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
The thespians, the student faction of the Educational Theatre Association, are consistently Broadway Cares’ strongest supporters in schools, raising more money than any other student organization. Thousands of thespians get involved each year.
“Thespians know how to affect change by working together and celebrating their love of theatre,” Norton said. “And, in the process, they become leaders who raise awareness about HIV/AIDS where they live, while making a difference for so many people in need in their local communities and around the country.”
Student thespians across the country support Broadway Cares by hosting audience appeals, bucket brigades, silent auctions and special performances in their schools. Increasingly, student officers incorporate Broadway Cares fundraising at their state festivals, where thousands of thespians contribute each year. Through July 2, 2012, Thespians have raised $1,012,807 for Broadway Cares.
“These talented students combine their creativity and boundless energy with a genuine sense of caring for one another,” said Broadway Cares Executive Director Tom Viola. “They know that theatre is about so much more than just performing. It’s about coming together as a community and this next generation of inspirational actors are leading by example, not only for their classmates but for all of us.”
The partnership between the International Thespian Society and Broadway Cares grew from a single school’s community service project in 1999. The enthusiasm that started in Troupe 5464 at North Penn High School in Lansdale, PA, spread to other schools and by the end of the first year, troupes in nine states raised more than $10,000. Now, thespians from almost every state fundraise for Broadway Cares.
At the Festival, Norton thanked the EdTA staff and board of directors for approving the project nationally when first approached by student leaders in 2000. Just like BC/EFA’s support on Broadway, all student participation is completely voluntary.
On June 27, 2012, student thespians from all across the country wore red in support of
Broadway Cares and to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS prevention.
Norton also praised the thespians’ teachers for inspiring their students to get involved.
“I have found so many heroes who fight for us on a daily basis and they do so much to make sure that they can show you a world that could be and a world that should be,” he said. “Of course, I’m talking about the teachers who brought you here today. … You are my true heroes.”
And Norton encouraged the young actors to stay committed to their efforts.
“You are making such an incredible difference in the world,” Norton said. “You’re changing the lives of so many people.”
Watch Joe Norton’s entire speech to the International Thespian Society