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When will National High School Theatre Day be celebrated? April 24th of each calendar year.

What is National High School Theatre Day? National High School Theatre Day is an annual day to honor, amplify, and support high school theatre programs around the country. While this day honors all high school theatre students and educators–in public school, private school, or parochial school–I hope it will be particularly beneficial to public school programs, since these programs are too often underfunded and under-prioritized in public school budget considerations. High School Theatre Day is also a great opportunity to raise cultural awareness of the importance of theatre and performing arts in education and share the research that supports this importance. Most of all, this is a great day to focus on promoting efforts to create and sustain robust, diverse, compassionate, culturally-relevant performing arts programs to schools in underserved communities, with a particular emphasis on making these programs accessible to people with disabilities.

How should National High School Theatre Day be celebrated or observed?

If you’re a student, teacher, or parent of a high school theatre organization:

  • Host a special fundraiser event for your program, perhaps asking local businesses for a sponsorship or a donation match
  • Plan a dedicated evening of student performances from the theatre repertoire, including recent productions
  • Host a social media poll asking people to vote on the shows they want to see produced (or be in!) next school year
  • Have a “dream casting” day, where students “cast” their peers in roles they want to see them play (would be a fun way to honor graduating seniors)
  • Give local businesses, friends, and family the opportunity to buy ads in advance (perhaps at a discounted rate) for next year’s playbills
  • Create and share an Amazon wish list (or other item-specific donation wish list) for your high school theatre program. (An Amazon list is best for items that are relatively inexpensive but you’ll always need more of them, like first aid items, spike tape, gaff tape, batteries, bobby pins, hardware, paint, sewing/embroidery tools, safety pins, snack packs for concession stands, inexpensive wigs and costume pieces, etc.)

If you’re a former high school theatre kid:

  • Share memories of your high school shows on social media, and tag your school in the posts
  • Share how your high school theatre experience influenced your chosen career path and/or your personal life, even/ESPECIALLY if you’re not in the theatre business anymore

If you’re anybody:

  • Make (or match) a donation to your high school theater program, and/or one in your current community
  • If you have a great fundraiser or program idea for a high school theater organization, reach out to them and the school administration to see how you can best support them
  • Take out an ad in their program (great for small businesses, Etsy sellers, and content creators)
  • If you’re looking to get rid of old clothes, especially occasion-specific items (e.g. graduation robes, wedding dresses, formalwear, specific sportswear), ask your local high school if they could use them in their costume collection. Same with props, especially period-specific items (e.g. old cell phones, rotary phones, disco balls, old pots and pans, etc.) Or coordinate with the program to host a “prop drive” and “costume drive” of requested items!
  • Reach out to your local and state representatives on behalf of public school arts programs, encouraging them to support these programs in their policy decisions

Why was National High School Theatre Day created? I’ve loved theatre since I was a child, and I’ve been lucky enough to turn it into my career. I just originated a principal role in the Broadway musical How to Dance in Ohio, which was the first major piece of theatre to feature autistic central characters played by autistic actors (myself included). My work on this production and the groundbreaking disability advocacy that came with it has deepened my passion for making the performing arts more accessible for everyone, especially for students. I am certain that I would not be where I am today without the foundation provided to me by my high school theatre programs, and the values these programs instilled in me: teamwork, creativity, ingenuity, and most of all, a shared empathy through storytelling. All of these values and skills benefit students in tangible ways whether they choose to pursue theatre professionally or not.

Who created this day? This day was created by Ashley Wool in 2024.