Department of Theatre

UNI To Host Iowa Thespian Festival for 5th Year In A Row

Nathan Jorgensen, a Senior at the University of Northern Iowa studying Communication - Theatre - Teaching, is well underway of his 2nd year as the Student Festival Coordinator for the Iowa Thespians Festival. With over 800 high school students and teachers getting ready to flood the University of Northern Iowa for a 2-day event, you would think he would be a bundle of nerves, but on the contrary, he is very calm and collected, “After the fifth year of UNI hosting Thespians, there’s not much we don’t already have a good handle on; it’s really more about updating information and getting the Board the help they need in order to ensure the Festival is a success by their standards”. Nathan is backed by his Assistant Student Festival Coordinator, Joseph Schoborg, his five Administrative team members, Olivia Frisch, Samantha Reece, Erica Kuhn, and Stephanie Nicholson, and his team of Purple Shirt Volunteers.

Purple Shirt volunteers are Theatre UNI students who devote their weekend to the 2-day event.The volunteers are there to assist the workshop leaders, facilitate any large shifts to and from any performances, workshops, or meal times, and answering any questions students or faculty may have over the course of the weekend. In fact, Nathan was told that the Purple Shirts were a group that was strictly unique to Iowa. A workshop leader who travels nationwide mentioned that the large number of college students that were available to assist in the festival was very rare and unseen in other areas of the nation.

The Department of Theatre takes pride in their ability to utilize the Festival as a way to intrigue prospective students. “Over the years, we’ve seen that when asked what made incoming freshman choose UNI, often it was because they came here for Thespians Festival”. And during “free time” students are given the opportunity to look at other colleges and alternate programs available to them so they can see that there is a place for Theatre in college, and that their passion does not have to stop once they leave high school.

The ultimate goal is to see Thespian Festival grow. It’s the goal to be able to bring students in and let them see how much of a collaborative effort the festival is; it takes so much work done by so many people, much like a theatrical production, and it is hoped that this will be evident for many years to come. The students involved get to look at others their age who are doing the same things they are, and can hopefully inspire each other to dream bigger and be better than they ever have.