If downtown feels a bit more dramatic than usual next week, it’s not your imagination. It’s more than 4,000 actors, theater designers, producers, administrators, educators and theater students gathering for the country’s largest regional theater convention. The annual Southeastern Theatre Conference convention runs March 6-10 at the Galt House.
March is a great time to be a theater professional or student visiting Louisville, thanks to Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Humana Festival of New American Plays, but SETC hasn’t held an annual convention here since 1996. Executive director Betsy Baun says the organization wanted to return sooner, but couldn’t find the space during its customary March meeting week. According to the Convention and Visitors Bureau, a long-standing (and now-canceled) state meeting had occupied the Galt House meeting facilities SETC will use this year.
While the organization represents professionals, educators and students in eleven southeastern states, including Kentucky, the SETC convention has a national reach as the largest job fair for theater employment in the country. More than 70 professional theaters, summer stock programs, theme parks and even Broadway musicals (this year, it’s “Newsies“) hold auditions and interviews for performing and off-stage positions. Seasoned professionals mingle with emerging artists hoping for a big break. Undergraduate and graduate programs also audition for their programs.
“Typically, with the actors, we have about 800, 850,” says Baun. “With the off-stage personnel, we have about 600-700 people who will be going through that.”
And with keynote speakers, a teacher’s institute, workshops, master classes (including a movement master class with ZFX Flying Effects) and play showcases, the convention is a one-stop shop for theater professionals, aspiring actors and designers, and drama students.
“We are connecting people to opportunity in theater, whether it’s people looking for work or people offering work, whether it’s educational opportunity or professional development,” says Baun.
The convention opens Wednesday at noon. On-site registration is available at the Galt House.