The statewide service organization for all nonprofit theatres in Texas.

TNT Youth Conference FAQs

The components of the Youth Conference

The Annual TNT Youth Conference is a summer camp-style experience for young performers, their directors and chaperones. Though theatre companies tend to make up the bulk of enrollment, registration is also open to individuals not associated with a performing company. Registration fees cover admission to the performances and the workshops, the two basic components of the TNT Youth Conference. Ticket sales for the performances are open to the public, available online or at the door. Lodging for the conference is not part of the registration fee, but TNT contracts with hotels for special rates for conferees. To learn more about the various aspects of the TNT Youth Conference, click the links below.

Performances and Workshops

The Meal Package

Commemorative Items

Young Leaders Council

Improv-A-Thon & Improv-A-Ganza!

Social Events

Monologue Competition

Spirit Cup Competition

Award Ceremonies

The two basic components of the TNT Youth Conference


Since 1996, youth companies from across the state have showcased their talents in performances at the TNT Youth conference. Shows range from one acts, musicals, cuttings of full length shows, and original works. Subject matter ranges from traditional fairytales to Broadway musicals, light-hearted comedies to teen-oriented dramas. Performing companies can range in size from 6 to 40 students.

• Youth companies apply to perform at the TNT Annual Youth Conference. The presenting theatre/organization must be a current organizational member of TNT.

• A nonrefundable Performance Fee must be paid to hold a performance slot.

• All company directors, cast, crew and chaperones must be registered for the full conference. ($85 per person in 2017)

• The maximum number of shows to be accepted is 18.

• Shows should be suitable for audiences ages 6 and up, or - if only suitable for older youth audiences due to dramatic content - carefully marked as such so that care can be taken to inform the other participating companies and the public. TNT management strongly advises careful selection of material by company directors.

• The performance must be no longer than 40 minutes. Set up and striking of sets must take no more than a combined time of 10 minutes. Total time = 50 minutes.

• Company directors must secure all rights pertaining to the presented performances, including permission to cut the piece if necessary.

• Storage space is limited, so sets must take up no more than 100 square feet unless otherwise approved by the TNT staff and host technical crew.

• Each company gets a 45 minute rehearsal time onstage either on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday morning before the official opening of the conference on Thursday afternoon. The rehearsal is intended for the companies to load in their sets, check out entrances and exits, lighting and sound capabilities, and get a feel for the space. It is not intended for a full run of the show. Assignment of rehearsal times is made by the TNT office, which takes into account special requests and travel distances when putting the schedule together. Performance order is also assigned by the TNT Office, again based on special needs, determining a complimentary blend of shows, and caution in scheduling shows with difficult content.

• Generally, the TNT Youth Conference kicks off with performances on Thursday afternoon. There are typically three performances per show block, depending on the total number of companies performing.

• Performances are open to the public, with tickets pre-sales available online, and onsite at the box office 30 minutes before show time.


Workshops in a variety of theatre disciplines are presented on Friday and Saturday mornings from 9 am to 12 noon in a rotation process that involves all registered youth. Classes may include Improvisation, Acting, Audition Techniques, Stage Make-up, Stage Combat, Puppetry, Musical Theatre, Voice and Diction, Theatre Games, Shakespeare, Design - depending on the resources available each year.

• Students are assigned to a rotation group based on their age range. The rotation groups are deliberately composed of a mix of students from difference companies to encourage networking. Students must adhere to their assigned group and rotation schedule but every effort is made to assign students to a group that includes at least one other from their company. TNT encourages company directors and chaperones to prepare their students for the possibility they will not be with their friends during these morning hours, and to use the opportunity to make new friends.

• Each rotation group, which numbers between 12 and 20 students, attends three different hour-long workshops each morning, resulting in 6 workshops per rotation group. For 2017 there are 18 rotation groups, so there are 18 workshops happening simultaneously. The workshops locations are determined in sets of three so that, with minor exceptions, students do not have to change buildings during a morning's rotation schedule.

• Paid workshops presenters are recruited from the participating company leaders and graduates, and local theatre professionals. The mix of disciplines offered is determined by available resources, with every effort being made to make sure each major rotation group has equivalent variety.

• Adult registrants may attend the youth workshop rotations or take advantage of special workshops for company directors.

Details to be announced.

Commemorative Items

There are a number of commemorative items available. Certain Items must be ordered in advance while others will be available onsite.

Young Leaders Council

For the past few years, TNT has been developing a program to give young members of TNT the opportunity to take a more active role in the work of Texas Nonprofit Theatres through forums and volunteering at TNT conferences and events. That program has evolved to become the Young Leaders Council. At the 2017 TNT Annual Conference, four students from Circle Arts Theatre attended and assisted with all aspects of the conference. With their feedback, we took this program to the next level.

For the 2018 Youth Conference, each participating company has the opportunity to select 2 students to be a part of the Young Leaders Council. 

• Students should be between 14 and 20 years old, be registered for the Youth Conference and be TNT members at the Youth or Student level. 

• These students will get the chance to interact with TNT staff and conference attendees, assist with online promotions, and learn about how the Youth Conference is organized and produced. This group of students will have  the opportunity to develop the Young Leaders Council further through a focused forum. 

• The deadline to submit the names & email addresses of your two selected students is May 2nd.

• The Young Leaders Council will meet before the beginning of the conference for orientation.


• Instagram & Snapchat takeovers, 2-6 students will be selected for these - they will touch base with TNT staff to get an info sheet and the log in details.

• Help guide workshop attendees to classroom spaces on Friday & Saturday mornings.

• Serve as ushers to take tickets and check name badges for entry into the theatre for shows.

• Help to set up for social events.

What is the Improv-A-Thon and Improv-A-Ganza!

IMPROV-A-THON is pre-conference workshops that focuses on a variety of improvisational techniques and games. Sponsored and run by members of Brazos Valley TROUPE of Bryan-College Station as a gift to participants, the sessions are open to all Youth Conference registrants. Participation is not required but involvement is a great way to kick off the week's activities and begin to make friends with students from other companies. The sessions are come and go, and participants may attend one or both sessions, as desired. 

IMPROV-A-GANZA! is a culminating performance of the improvisational techniques learned during the pre-conference workshops and workshops held during the regular rotations. Coaches and teachers from those sessions make their recommendations for the Improv-A-Ganza! cast, which is announced during the Saturday afternoon performances. The selected members then meet briefly before presenting a final improvised performance on Saturday evening.

What are the Social Events?

The TNT Youth Conference is generally hosted by one or two local companies, who help to provide space, technical assistance and social events for the conference. Each year, the social events differ depending on the hosts, ranging from ice cream socials, to swim parties. These are provided free of charge to the conference registrants, strictly as gifts from the sponsoring organization.

Introducing the TNT Monologue Competition

                             The monologue competition is a new addition to the Youth Conference. Here are the details:

                    • All youth registrants are welcome to participate. 

                    • Entries will compete by performing a memorized monologue before a panel of judges who will provide immediate feedback. The judges will make their decision on the finalists after all entries have performed and make the announcement of the finalists on Saturday evening. Finalists will be recognized and showcased on Sunday morning during the Awards Ceremony.

• There is a $5 entry fee, payable at the conference or in advance.

• Depending on the number of entries, rounds will take place on Thursday morning (10 - 11 AM) & Friday late afternoon (4:30 - 5:30 PM). Entrants need only attend one round. In the event that call-backs are desired, information will be posted at the registration desk after the Friday round.

• Monologues may be 1 - 2 minutes long with a 30 second grace period. Monologues may not exceed 2.5 minutes.

• Monologues may be original, published or selections from other materials, primarily spoken (not sung or rapped) and in good taste (no bad language). Please bring a print-out of the monologue for the judges.

• Monologues must be memorized (if given again it will be exactly the same). 

• Limited props may be used but no costumes.

Spirit Cup Competition

This competition is focused on encouraging participating companies to promote their cities/towns and their organization while vying to have their name placed on the Spirit Cup Perpetual Trophy. Funds raised through the competition will go towards establishing a Youth Conference scholarship fund - details to follow.

Award Ceremonies

The TNT Youth Conference is not a theatre competition with advancement opportunities, such as UIL or AACTFest. The goal of the event is to celebrate the accomplishments of the students and their directors at whatever level they have achieved. There is a commentator who provides feedback to each company and the audience after each performance, but there is no ranking of shows at the end. However, there is much to applaud and the Awards Ceremony is geared toward recognizing achievements is many areas. The Awards Ceremony generally takes place from 10:00 AM to Noon on the Sunday morning of the conference in the theatre where the performances took place.

All Star Cast

Besides providing feedback for the companies, the commentator selects two students from each company for the All Star Cast. It recognizes Excellence in Performance for that particular company.

The Backstage Award

The Backstage Award recognizes a company for the most organized, professional and courteous behavior of the participating companies during their rehearsal and performance times. The Backstage Award is determined by the Technical Staff of the theatre.

The Todd Hart Teacher's Pet Award

Youth Conference instructors submit a list of the students who excelled in their classes through positive participation and supportive involvement. From the supplied lists, the awardees are determined.

The Brown & Lechler 'Cap & Gown' Award for Graduating Seniors

Named for former TNT Board President's Billie Brown and Kevin Lechler, these awards are selected from nominations made by the directors of the participating companies. Please download the form to nominate seniors from your company. Turn in your form(s) to M. A. Sterling at the conference by Saturday, June 10th. LINK TO FORM FOR CAP & GOWN AWARD coming soon.

The Gilmore Spirit Awards, named for former TNT Board Member Dennis Gilmore who was instrumental in the creation of the TNT Youth Conference, honor individuals who exemplify the spirit of friendship, cooperation, support and courtesy throughout the conference.

The Esprit de Corps Award honors the company or companies which also exemplify the principles of the TNT Youth Conference, promoting networking, mutual support and cooperation, and generosity of spirit.

The Linda Lee Leadership Award, named in honor of retired TNT Executive Director Linda M. Lee, recognizes the adults and/or students who show leadership before and during the TNT Youth Conference.