Connie Smith, Director of Technical Theatre Center for the Performing Arts at Chipola College, recently accompanied a group of eight Chipola Theatre students to the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC).
Some of the students were looking for summer work while the others attended sessions and did college transfer auditions. Smith reports that so far, three students have obtained summer work. Chloe Gilbert will be the Production Management Intern at Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City, OK. Landry Tharp will be Props Master at Tecumseh Outdoor Drama in Ohio. Colby James will be Electrics Crew/Follow Spot Operator at the Lost Colony in Manteo, North Carolina.
Since the first convention in 1949, SETC now hosts over 4,000 actors, professional company representatives, design and technical professionals, theatre educators, students from high schools and universities, commercial exhibitors and community theatre producers. SETC is the largest theatre convention in the nation and is held annually in the first week of March.
In 2002, Smith served as part of the “local arrangements” committee for the SETC Convention. At that time, Smith worked for the University of South Alabama, and was assigned to assist with Job Fair – the technical hiring arm of SETC. April J’Callahan Marshall joined SETC that year as director of the Professional Theatre Services Division. Since 2002, Smith has served as the on-site Manager of Job Fair. Callahan says, “With her expertise in technical theatre, and her love of teaching students, Connie has made significant contributions to the growth of SETC’s technical side. She can work with the students, the company representatives and handle other concerns as they arise. Her leadership and management continually push me to find better ways to serve our constituents – both those looking for jobs, as well as those hiring. SETC owes a great debt to Connie for her immense contributions.”
Although not a paid staff member of SETC, Smith’s input is valued in the development of services to persons who work off-stage in theatre. Her leadership has built the Production Resume Review workshop into an annual program. The day before job hiring begins at SETC, Smith leads a team of professional company representatives in sharing of information on resume and portfolio styles – as well as individual reviewing of attendees’ materials. Often those suggestions are incorporated and evident in the enhanced presentations to hiring theatres throughout the week. This year it was noted that the 850+ individuals who interviewed through Job Fair were among the strongest and best prepared group of candidates yet. Callahan says, “Connie’s deep concern for the betterment of students and individuals who interview with the SETC theatres is strongly evident.”
Smith also serves as the authority for distribution of Actor/Tech audition numbers at SETC. These are persons who are looking to be hired for off-stage jobs, but are willing to appear onstage as needed. She reviews resumes presented by each person and determines if they have the tech skills necessary to interview. She then coaches them on how to handle the 10-second “audition” they will have in front of the hiring theatres.
Smith’s Chipola Assistant Technical Director Josh Tetlow has also worked on Job Squad for seven years, brings Chipola students to begin serving in Job Fair. It is a testament to her abilities that volunteers come back year after year to serve and to vie for any possible openings on the Job Fair.