In the Beginning
Texas Educational Theatre Association, Inc. (TETA) was founded in October,
1951. Preliminary meetings in 1950 and
early 1951 had resulted in tentative plans for the eventual establishments of
an organization concerned primarily with improving the status of educational
theatre in Texas. However, when the
proposals to revise secondary school curricula and teaching certification
policies, the immediate action became apparent.
Thus, TETA came to order to promote theatre and secure recognition for
it as a course in the Texas school programs.
A Definitive Moment
Its purposes were stated as follows:
a. To promote vigorously the development of high quality theatre programs in
Texas colleges and universities.
b. To cooperate and appropriate state agencies in obtaining further recognition
of educational theatre as a part of the curriculum in Texas public schools, and
to encourage the employment of qualified public school theatre teachers.
c. To encourage the writing and production of plays about Texas and the Southwest
d. To encourage theatre theories and practices in order to permit the use of
varied means of producing plays, organizing theatre departments and curricula,
and constructing effective theatre buildings.
e. To increase student appreciation and participation in a living theatre in
which plays of high quality would be produced.
f. To seek every means of creating widespread understanding of commercial and
non-commercial theatre and the contribution each can render to the American
During its comparatively short existence, TETA has made significant
contributions to the development of the national educational theatre. The Minimum Criteria Policy originated in and
was first implemented by TETA. The
Southwest Theatre Association and the American Theatre Association adopted the
criteria without revision. It formed the
basis for what was to become the Minimum Criteria Policy for the National
Association of School of Theatre. It was
a TETA Committee which labored for several years to formulate a Play Selection
Policy. The unique plan was approved by
leading play publishers and has been adopted by the Southwest Theatre
Association and the former American Theatre Association. The Association played a significant role in
establishing the Texas Fine Arts Commission.
For several years, appointment representatives called upon the Texas
Governor in person and urged that Texas join the growing number of states which
had formed similar organizations. The
Commission was approved by the Legislature in 1966, and TETA members occupied
important posts and program of the Commission’s first state convention.
Since its founding in 1951, TETA, Inc. and its Committee on the Academic and
Production Standards have sought constantly to improve the status of drama and
its teaching in Texas public schools and colleges. Thus, TETA eagerly accepted the invitation of
the Texas Educational Agency to collaborate in the preparation of the following
proposals, all of which were officially adopted in 1966 and are now in effect:
Require Texas teaching training institutions to
provide a certification program for teaching drama equivalent to those
currently in effect for other high school subjects. Prospective teaching to complete at least 24
semester hours in drama along with 24 hours semester hours in another teaching
field. College departments must offer at
least 24 semester hours of drama content courses. Provide a plan whereby drama teachers
currently certified but with deficiencies in drama, may meet new drama teacher
Establish a Fine Arts Program for secondary
schools which will include art, drama, music, and dance to assist schools in
the promotion of each subject.
Transfer high school drama courses from Language
Arts programs to the Fine Arts programs.
Remove the requirement that students must take a
speech course before enrolling in Drama 1.
Texas thus became the first state to provide the secondary school drama teacher
certification and accreditation and to establish drama as a separate subject in
a fine arts program in junior and senior high school curricula. When the Texas
State Legislature mandated a required examination of teachers being certified
for secondary school teaching, it was a committee composed primarily of TETA
members from elementary, middle, secondary, and university level schools which
prepared the Examination for Certification of Educators in Texas (ExCet) in the
field of Theatre Arts. The Examination
was first administered in 1988. The TETA course outlines in Introduction to
Theatre, Acting, Voice and Diction, Technical Production, Stage Make-up,
Directing, and History of Theatre have been prepared and distributed to all
Texas college theatre departments and to numerous theatre organizations in
other states. The outlines are kept
up-to-date by committees which make regular revisions. They are then reviewed by all members of the
Association whenever further refinements are made. Thus, they are representatives of the best
thinking and teaching practices of most of the college theatre instructors in
Texas. Students of TETA Institutional
Member Schools who complete such courses are able to transfer them to other
TETA colleges or universities without loss of credit.
Growth and Adaptation
The need for secondary school drama teachers’ organization became apparent as
the demand for drama increased in junior and senior high schools. The Texas Secondary Theatre Conference (TSTC)
was founded in 1964. It affiliated at
once with TETA. Its meetings were held
as the time of the TETA annual convention.
The Texas Creative Dramatics – Children’s Theatre Conference (TCDCTC)
was founded at the TETA convention at Southwest Texas State University in San
Marcos in 1972. It affiliated at once
with TETA. At the February 1977 meeting
of TETA, the basic structure of the organization was changed. The affiliates, TSTC and TCDCTC, were
disbanded as organizations within TETA.
In order that these groups would have equal representation with community
junior college and university/college members, four sections were formed to
represent special interest groups:
Community/ Jr. College Section
Secondary School Section
Child Drama Section
A chairman and secretary were elected to represent each
section at the TETA board meeting. The
Constitution and By-Laws were amended in 1977 and a new policy of minimum
criteria for secondary schools was written.
Focusing the Mission
As TETA grew in membership and as conditions in educational theatre within the
state changed, it became apparent that a reassessment of the mission and
purposes of TETA was needed. Therefore,
a Strategic Planning Committee was appointed to study the situation in 1988,
and in 1989, the Constitution and By-Laws were further revised. Under the new constitution, the mission and
objectives of the organization have been restated as follows:
The Mission of the Association is the support, promotion,
and expansion of educational theatre by providing quality educational
opportunities, a network for resources, support and expansion, a base for
advocacy, and a forum for establishing standards, programs, and projects in
order to celebrate the importance of theatre arts in human experience.
The objectives of the Association are:
To promote vigorously the development and
continuation of high quality theatre programs in Texas schools, colleges, and
To cooperate with appropriate agencies in
obtaining further recognition of theatre as an art of educational theatre as an
essential part of the curriculum of Texas educational institutions, and to
encourage the employment of qualified teachers.
To encourage the writing and production of plays
and research in theatre history and dramatic literature, theory, and criticism.
To exchange theories and practices about
producing plays, organizing theatre departments and curricula, and constructing
effective theatre buildings.
To increase appreciation and encouragement of
To secure funds to support the growth and
development of the Association and to promote increased contributing
To increase public respect and support for
theatre arts and for TETA as a professional organization. To seek every means of creating widespread
understanding and encouragement of commercial and non-commercial theatre and
contribution of each to the American culture.
The various sections were consolidated into two final sections and each section
is represented on the TETA Board of Directors:
Kindergarten – Grade 12: Includes interest
groups in kindergarten, elementary, junior/middle school and secondary schools,
plus creative dramatics and children’s theatre.
College – University: Includes interest groups
in Junior/Community Colleges and Universities.
In carrying out the above mandates, TETA has added a variety of activities to
its endeavors. Working with Texas
Commission on the Arts, the Creative Dramatics Network of the K-12 Section
sponsors training sessions throughout the state for elementary teachers. The Teacher Training Network works
specifically with College/University section to promote improved training to
theatre specialists for the public schools.
In 1989, TETA, in cooperation with the University Interscholastic League
(UIL), formed the TETA Adjudicator’s Organization (AO) which is charged with
the training and evaluation of judges for the UIL-Sponsored One-Act Play (OAP)
Contests. TETA is also active throughout
the state through its publication, advocacy, scholarships auditions, workshops,
and the encouragement of scholarly research and publication. Membership in TETA is open to all who work or
teach in the non-commercial theatre of Texas. The annual convention is held in
late January or early February.