Thespian Initiation 2021

Thespian Initiation 2021

Kareli Gutierrez (12th), Reporter

With the pandemic affecting how school is taught, fun activities that would normally take place just aren’t able to happen. But, thespian initiation week is certainly not one of them. 

Thespian initiation week is a week where drama students, called neophytes, who wish to become thespians need to take on a series of tasks given to them by the thespians. Neophytes have to learn the beanie dance and perform it any time a thespian or teacher asks “What’s that beanie?” Thespians have a pick to which neophyte they want to be in charge of so they can tell them what costume they need to wear each day and just keep them updated in general. neophytes need to ask for tasks in order to be able to obtain enough points to become thespians, but only have until three in the afternoon to ask for these tasks.


But, thespian initiation was done a little differently this year due to the pandemic. While students still had their thespians to tell them their tasks, the neophytes had to do all their tasks at home instead of in school. Not only was it different for the neophytes that had to go through changes this year, but also Thespians that were in charge of organizing the initiation.


Gretta James, a senior from Pitman High School and thespian of four years, talked about some of the differences from past years and some difficulties. 


 “This year and last year, we wanted to change the atmosphere of initiation. It used to be scary and intimidating and we didn’t feel that that was a good thing. Initiation should be fun and you should feel support and encouragement the whole way through, you shouldn’t be scared to be goofy or make mistakes. We are really happy with the changes we’ve made and hope it encourages people to want to participate. Some difficulties we’ve had were making things as organized as possible. There is A TON that goes into prepping and planning for initiation and it is easy to forget the little things but I think this year was pretty seamless.”


It is obvious that the thespians worked really hard for this year’s initiation to be as perfect as it can be and with all the Neophytes in mind. It shows their caring nature for others and their hard work to make this event as wonderful for the Neophytes as possible.


I asked Abby Day, a senior from Pitman High School and thespian of four years, about thespian initiation and her experience as a neophyte during thespian initiation a few years ago. She answered the following.


I think the easiest part of initiation is completing tasks. Even if the tasks are embarrassing, it’s nothing too crazy and can be completed pretty easily. The hardest part of initiation in my opinion is memorizing and performing the beanie dance. The beanie dance is full of random sayings that aren’t coherent and so it could be hard to memorize it and get it right… When you become a thespian, you have the opportunity to become a drama officer, participate in the thespian show, go to San Francisco to watch a show, and go to Ashland, Oregon for the Shakespeare Festival. I would describe my thespian initiation as a complete whirlwind. I remember being so stressed and so focused for those three days. I had such tunnel vision and all I cared about in that moment was completing tasks, making my costumes, making sure I knew the beanie dance, and getting as many points as possible. I had such a great experience doing thespian initiation and it helped grow so much as a person. It truly is such a great experience and I highly recommend participating in initiation if you have the opportunity to do so.” 


 Day gives an amazing explanation of the experience of a neophyte wanting to become a thespian. She shows the struggles but also the joy and rewards of going through initiation. She shows that it’s all worth it in the end.


From my own experience in going through Thespian Initiation in the 2020-2021 school year, I can confirm that what Day said is completely true. It can definitely be stressful going through initiation and learning the beanie dance, but there’s also so much joy in completing those tasks. 


Not only is it fun for your thespian to send you those tasks to complete, but it’s also so funny and joyful for the neophyte doing the tasks. It can be embarrassing at times, but it’s totally worth it.


This experience totally helped me act things out that I would never have done before (such as the beanie dance), and although I was a little nervous at first, I got more comfortable as the days went on. This experience totally got me out of my comfort zone and I’m so glad I did it.


Although the experience was not the same as if I would have done it at school, I’m still glad that I did it this year. In the end, it’s all worth it because the feeling of making it is amazing.


I hope that anyone who wants to become a thespian or is thinking about it and is having doubts goes along and does it because it’s such a fun experience. You won’t regret it. Just make sure to have fun. It’ll be totally worth it! 🙂

To end this segment, what other way than to end with a quote from Julie McBay, the Pitman High School Drama teacher. 

“I feel it is a way for students to take the confidence they build in the Black Box Theater and live it in the real world. It is a valuable learning experience creatively and really allows the younger students an opportunity for deep connection with the Advanced students. A wonderful unification process.”