CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.,
Nov. 11, 2008 – Thirty-five students from the Southeast Missouri State University Department of Theatre and Dance recently attended the Southeast Theatre Conference (SETC) regional auditions held in Dickson, Tenn., Oct. 24-26.
SETC is the largest theatre convention of its kind in the United States. Each year, over 3,500 professional, student and community actors, singers, dancers, directors, designers and technicians attend the national convention.
In addition to guest lecturers, workshops and theatre presentations, there is a job fair component in which about 150 professional companies participate. Theatres such as Utah Shakespearean Festival, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Santa Fe Opera, The Actor’s Theatre of Louisville and Seaside Music Theatre audition, interview and ultimately hire technicians and performers. From over 4,000 auditionees at a multitude of state screening auditions, approximately 1,000 chosen performers will audition for these companies at the 2009 national convention, which will be held March 4-8 in Birmingham, Ala. Auditionees range from college and university freshmen to third-year MFA graduate students to seasoned professionals.
“Southeast students are considered to be from an out-of-region state, so were required to compete in Tennessee with other universities from outside the region,” said Rhonda Weller-Stilson, associate professor of theatre and dance. “The state screening was only allowed to forward up to 30 percent of those auditioning to the national convention. Only student actors and singers are required to go through the screening process, and there is no distinction between first semester freshmen and third year graduate students. Each student auditionee is simply assigned a number, and that’s all the screening adjudicators see. It’s based solely on talent.”
Students representing such programs as the University of Illinois, the University of Missouri-Columbia, Missouri State University, Illinois State University and Webster University participated in this particular screening audition. This year, 16 students were chosen to continue on from this state screening audition to the national convention, where they will present their final audition. Southeast students represented 12 of those 16, which speaks volumes about the quality of these undergraduate actors from Southeast’s Department of Theatre and Dance, Weller-Stilson said.
“Those 12 were not just juniors and seniors, but were freshmen and sophomores as well,” she added. “Approximately 35 Southeast students went through the auditioning process. They had to pay around $100 to audition, so this shows the dedication of our students to commit this much money even though they might not get to the next level.
“When we first began getting our students involved, we were lucky to get three through to the next level, so we are thrilled by our new percentages,” Weller-Stilson said. “We are attributing this success to many variables including an increase in classes in acting, auditioning and vocal performance, as well as increases in faculty and scholarships. The development of the bachelor of fine arts degree and our strong recruiting efforts are playing a large role as well.”