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Future employment, future students
The Department of Theatre and Cinema at the Southeastern Theatre Conference
Competition was a theme both Radford University theatre students and faculty experienced in different ways during the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC) March 4-8 in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
This year the SETC held its 66th Annual Convention, where RU theatre students were given the chance to audition for professional companies, interview for employment and share their art.
Madeleine Cindrich, along with her peers Zachary Bacon and Taylor Moore, presented audition pieces. Morgan Taylor Hardy, entered her scenic designs from RU’s world premiere production of Jeremiah Munsey’s “The Way It Has to Be.”
For Cindrich this experience was her opportunity to perform in front of theatre companies from all over the southeastern region in hope that they will offer her a job. She performed a monologue from a play called “Beau Jest.” In this piece, her character tries to get a boy to be her pretend boyfriend so she can impress her parents.
“This piece is very light hearted and a bit neurotic, which makes for a memorable audition,” Cindrich said.
RU’s Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship (OURS) covered these four students’ conference expenses. They were awarded funding after writing artist statements briefly outlining how their projects constituted research and the processes they went through to complete it.
Then it was up to the faculty to prepare them for the actual conference.
“With 13 of our students at SETC looking for work, our mentoring was really important,” said Jimmy Ray Ward, assistant professor of theatre. “It allowed us to work with these students on how to interview, present their work and sell themselves as artist and craftsmen.”
Professional companies from around the U.S. attend who are looking for employees, and, in some cases students. These include cruise lines, summer stock theatres, Shakespeare festivals, graduate programs, theme parks and major regional theatres.
Wesley Young, assistant professor of theatre also attended the conference with the students and Ward in order to recruit prospective students.
Young watched over 165 auditions. During these, prospective students chosen as possible candidates had the opportunity to stop by the RU education exposition table to talk about the university.
Ward interviewed around 30 prospective high school students interested in the design and technical areas of theatre. In addition, he took part in a portfolio presentation and open forum on his process as a theatrical designer. The forum had multiple designers presenting in the forum over the course of the conference and 70 people attended Ward’s presentation. These ranged from students, faculty, and other professional designers.
The SETC Annual Convention is a gathering of over 4,000 actors, professional company representatives, design and technical professionals, theatre educators, students from universities and high schools, commercial exhibitors, university representatives, community theatre producers and participants coming together to celebrate and learn more about theatre.
Since 1949, SETC has been hosting the nation's largest theatre convention each year during the first week of March. SETC’s mission is "connecting you to opportunities in theatre.”
“SETC remains the leading event for our students to gain exposure to a large group of people with the common interests of creating theatre, perpetuating the art form and advocating its place in our society,” Young said. “In addition, and not to be downplayed, it is a great chance for our undergraduates to enter the professional job market.”
He mentioned that there are few other occasions like SETC students can attend to audition or interview with this number of companies and prospective employers. This is part of the Department of Theatre and Cinema’s mission to support and encourage students to seek such opportunities while still in school.
“SETC really gives students the chance to meet people outside their own theatre world and helps us network with companies who give us the chance to work in the professional world,” Cindrich said. “Not only that, but it has a large selection of master classes, workshops, and panels to attend that have really helped enriched my theatre education. For some of my peers who will graduate this spring – it's helped them secure jobs so they will be ready to start their careers upon graduating.”