No one knows what inspired the original members of the Thespians to break into the Ariel Theater and set up shop. For awhile there was a rumor that the cast of Van Buren High School's production of The Little Foxes broke in on a whim so they could have the satisfaction of performing on a big stage before the Telo got them. This rumor is now regarded as false, but it suits as well as any other.
Flamboyant experts at their own publicity, the Thespians control the downtown theater district, dividing their time between foraging and fun. Membership is class-based, with cast having access to the best food, the most high-profile assignments, and of course, costumes. One has to audition to become a cast member, and regular performances are required to maintain one's status, since Thespians live to entertain and be entertained.
If one cannot act, there are always spots available as crew. Crew members do the drudge work, such as cooking, cleaning, and scenery setup for the cast members' frequent productions, but they have the protection of the group, which is no small consideration in the wild and dangerous city.
The Thespians are currently led by Elissa Templeton, who originally used the title of queen but now styles herself an empress since taking over the smaller Operatics group at the Opera House. Empress Elissa never travels without her retinue, and although other group leaders in the city mock her elaborate costumes, she is an effective negotiator who is successful at gaining advantages for her tribe.
Thespian cast members are easily identified by their costumes, which vary widely in appearance but are nearly identical in their impracticality. Their antics are legendary and their performances are even more so. A Thespian on a foraging mission would never dream of throwing a case of coffee creamer out an office window to a waiting compatriot if a more dramatic and story-worthy way of accomplishing the task was available. It is expected that successful missions be celebrated back at the theater with impromptu (and often inebriated) skits, which makes being a Thespian a fine bit of fun if one is inclined to spend one's final days on earth as a living embodiment of the absurdities and contradictions of post-pandemic life.