Robert Porterfield Graduate Scholarship

About the Scholarship

The Robert Porterfield Graduate Scholarship is awarded each year to a student pursuing a graduate degree in theatre. Robert Porterfield was the founder and longtime director of the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, VA. A charter member of SETC and a co-founder of its annual auditions, he continued to support the organization throughout his career. When the Endowment Fund was created, Bob became SETC’s first life member, and the Board later named its first scholarship in his honor.

Deadline to Apply: September 15, 2016

The 2017 Porterfield Scholar Will Receive:

  • $2,000 for graduate study in theatre
  • Free SETC student membership
  • Free registration for the 2017 SETC Convention
  • Three-night hotel stay during Convention, arranged and provided by SETC
  • One ticket to the SETC Awards Banquet at Convention, where scholars will be recognized
  • Photo and bio recognition on the SETC website


Candidates must meet each of these qualifications to be eligible to apply for this award:

  • You must be planning to attend an accredited program of graduate studies in Theatre during the 2017-2018 academic year.
  • You must have graduated from, be currently attending, or have plans to attend an academic institution in one of the following 10 states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia or West Virginia.

How to Apply:

Submit the following materials to Abby Kiker, Robert Porterfield Award Committee Chair, by September 15, 2016:

  • Completed application: 2017 Application Form
  • Personal letter outlining plans and objectives
  • A complete resume
  • Three reference letters speaking specifically to the applicant’s potential as a graduate student
  • Complete, official transcripts from all colleges/universities attended

Please Note: It is recommended that you submit all materials in a single, multi-page PDF document.

Selection Process and Timeline:

  • All applications must be submitted by the deadline, September 15, 2016.
  • All finalists (up to three) will be notified by October 20, 2016 to confirm their attendance at LINK for personal interviews with the committee.
  • Interviews will be conducted in person at LiNK 2016 (SETC and USITT’s graduate recruiting event) on Saturday, November 12, in Atlanta. The selected finalist candidates (up to three) must be present at LiNK for 15-20 minute personal interviews with the committee. The interview is the final step in selecting the Porterfield Scholar.
  • All finalists will be notified whether or not they have been selected as the Porterfield Scholar by November 21, 2016.
  • The Porterfield Scholar is invited to attend the 2017 SETC Convention, March 1-5, 2017, in Lexington, KY. SETC will cover the cost of membership, convention registration and a three-night hotel stay. Scholars are expected to help operate the SETC Scholarships Display table during the convention.
  • After July 1, 2017 – Upon notification of matriculation to the SETC Executive Director that the Scholar has entered an accredited program of graduate studies in Theatre, the award money will be released

More Information

If you have any questions or are ready to submit your application, please contact: Abby Kiker, Robert Porterfield Award Committee Chair.

2016 Porterfield Scholar

Congratulations, Joseph D’Ambrosi!

“I am so thankful to SETC for its emphasis on the professional and academic growth of graduate students in multiple subject areas in theatre. It’s an incredible honor to represent this organization as the Porterfield Graduate Scholar. As a Ph.D. student in Theatre History and Literature at Indiana University, I will use this award to further my scholarship opportunities at future theatre conferences.”

Joseph D’Ambrosi is a graduate student at the University of Central Florida pursuing a Master of Arts in Theatre Studies. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, PA. A scholar, artist and teacher, Joe’s dream is to teach a variety of theory and practice-based theatre classes at the college level and challenge the cultural status quo and accepted norms through his research and artistic endeavors.

At last year’s SETC convention in Chattanooga, Joe led a workshop entitled, “Theatrical Censorship: Should my Faith Draw the Line?” which he will reprise at this year’s convention in Greensboro. He will also co-present a workshop at this year’s convention called, “Problematic Portrayals: Tensions in Portraying Underrepresented Identities.” His work is published in SETC’s Southern Theatre Magazineand HowlRound. Joe’s thesis explores the relationship between contemporary mainstream Passion Plays and the New Testament gospels. The goal of this project is to apply a postmodern lens to evangelical theology, using theatre to recover the gospels for underrepresented identities such as the LGBTQ+ community.

A trained actor, singer and dramaturg, Joe has worked on a variety of productions from classic plays to Golden Age musicals. Recently, Joe served as the director of TheatreUCF’s contemporary adaptation of Calderón de la Barca’s 17th century play, Life is a Dream, completely in the Spanish language. This project celebrates the beauty of cultural diversity, utilizes storytelling as a viable means of language fluency, and honors Calderón’s original work by making it relevant to a 21st century audience. Joe will graduate with his M.A. in May and intends to begin a Ph.D. program in Theatre Arts.