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date: 28 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The article investigates the shared history and contemporary practices of community and high school musical theater in the United States, through which each has established a unique relationship to its audience. One of the sources of the documenting practice is the American Association of Community Theaters (AACT), with its umbrella organization, Theater USA that collected documented histories of community theaters in the United States, including play and musical production since 1919. The resulting publication, Millennium Theatres: Discovering Community Theater's Future by Exploring Its Past includes theater members' personal memories, records of ticket sales, stories or descriptions of restructuring of the theaters to meet economic or community needs. Another resource for documenting practice is Dramatics magazine that is published by the International Thespian Society (ITS) and the Educational Theater Association (EdTA), Dramatics, targeting high school students and their teachers, compiles from member schools a “most produced play and musical” list annually. Dramatics represents schools that have made a commitment to including theater in their curricula or after-school activities. The national thespian society is currently known as the International Thespian Society, and its publication for members, Dramatics, is distributed to about 42,000 individuals, 80 percent of whom are high school students. The popularity of certain shows, as documented by the AACT, Theater USA, and the Educational Theater Association, has created a de facto canon for musicals in community and high school theater, which in turn reveals some expectations that audiences have of each form.

Keywords: American Association of Community Theater, Dramatics, high school musical theater, National Thespian Society, Theater USA

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