70 Fascinating Facts About SETC

SETC is turning 70 in 2019! As part of our celebration, we’ve been digging through our archives, reading about our history, and thinking about which of our many offerings we wish more people knew about. We’ll be highlighting 70 of our favorite tidbits as we gear up for 2019 and our 70th annual convention. 



What changed in our mission statement? Just one word. “Nationwide” was added to SETC’s mission statement in 2018 to better reflect SETC’s growing national profile, as the number of members, professional companies and others who attend our convention and access SETC’s many programs and services from across the country continues to increase. Our current active membership comes from 48 states (including Alaska & Hawaii), the District of Columbia, Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom. SETC – Connecting You to Opportunities in Theatre Nationwide!


SETC has over 3,000 twitter followers.

Follow us and see how many we can get before convention! #SETC2019


Tituss Burgess got his start at SETC.

“SETC gave me my start, and you’ve got to start somewhere. It’s much better to start where there are 90 or more opportunities (SETC) – than just one.”

After first auditioning at SETC in 2000, Tituss Burgess returned 10 years later as a keynote and masterclass presenter at the 61st annual SETC Convention in Lexington, KY. His Broadway credits in between included Good Vibrations (2005), Jersey Boys (2005), The Little Mermaid (2007), and the revival of Guys and Dolls (2009). Since we last saw him, he’s been nominated for numerous Emmy and Critics’ Choice Television Awards for his roll as Titus Andromedon in Netflix’s popular series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

Tituss Burgess shares advice with singers in a musical theatre masterclass at the 2010 SETC Convention.


You can get audition tips from the pros!

Did you know there’s a new “Audition Resources” page on the SETC website? That’s where we’re releasing a series of videos in which casting professionals who regularly hire through SETC share their perspectives on what makes a great audition. Be sure to check out the “Recommended Reading” selections on the page as well!



We asked members attending our 69th annual convention in Mobile, AL to answer the question, “What does SETC mean to me?” on sticky notes. Common themes were “family,” “friends,” “opportunities,” and “networking.”


Wild and Crazy Jobs!

Along with the usual Technical Director and Stage Manager type “backstage” jobs, SETC’s Theatre Job Fair has had a Professional Company looking to hire a Skating Zamboni Driver! Did you know that your resume’ can be seen year-round on the SETC Theatre Job Board if you participate in the Theatre Job Fair at convention? What are you waiting for?


Two of SETC’s earliest presidents had ties to NADSA.

SETC’s second president was Dr. Thomas E. Poag. Dr. Poag was the first African American to receive a master’s degree and a PhD in Theatre in the U.S. He was an esteemed writer, director, producer, actor, lecturer, administrator and teacher. Oprah Winfrey was one of his students and mentions him in her book. When elected as SETC’s president in 1951, Dr. Poag had already been president for nine years of the Southern Association of Dramatic and Speech Arts, an all-black organization of college theatre and speech programs (now NADSA, Southern being replaced by National). A few years later, in 1956, NADSA’s founder, the similarly esteemed S. Randolph Edmonds who is often called the “Dean of Black American Theatre,” was selected as SETC’s fifth president.

Further reading on these leaders:
Tennessee State Library – Dr. Thomas E. Poag
Dr. Thomas E. Poag: The Life and Works of a TSU
The Essential Theatre with S. Randolph Edmonds
Randolph Edmonds in Harlem Renaissance Lives
BTN Promotes S. Randolph Edmonds Competitions

Dr. Thomas E. Poag, picture from Tennessee State University Library
Dr. Thomas E. Poag, picture from Tennessee State University Library
Randolph Edmonds, picture from Florida A&M University Essential Theatre
Randolph Edmonds, picture from Florida A&M University Essential Theatre


SETC has conducted roughly 50,000 auditions in the last 20 years!


KEAP (Keynote Emerging Artists of Promise) awards were initiated by 2005 SETC Keynote Speaker, playwright Samm-Art Williams.

The KEAP awards continue to be given in appreciation of Mr. Williams (native North Carolinian, playwright, actor, screenwriter, tv executive producer and writer) after he “was so moved by the ‘heart’ he felt from attendees at the SETC Convention that he donated his honorarium to SETC and asked that the money be used to cover SETC Convention costs for students who otherwise would be unable to attend.”

“Because most conferences are centered on intellectual concerns, it’s so academic, it has no heart. But with kids, you have the heart. And being here, just from talking to them, I’ve gotten ideas. I’ve been inspired. I’ve been to several workshops, and plan to go to as many as I can; and I haven’t felt this enthusiastic about going to workshops in 20 years.”  Samm-Art Williams

KEAP (Keynote Emerging Artist of Promise) Awards


Pat Shumate, SETC Central Office staff member, played Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s school teacher in the ring!

Watch the video – Pat with The Rock!


It’s our 2nd year to offer two types of grants for professional theatre companies!

One is for theatres that are current SETC members for Staff Development matching funds, and the other is for non-member theatres to be able to attend convention and participate as a hiring company thru the Pro auditions and Theatre Job Fair. Check out this year’s winners!

Announcing the 2018-2019 Grant Recipients


Check out the 3rd edition of Outdoor Theatre Facilities: A Guide to Planning and Building Outdoor Theatres on Amazon.com!

If you have any interest in planning, designing, or constructing outdoor theatres or amphitheaters, this is for you. Or just check it out for the awesome pictures of outdoor theatre spaces.


SETC has a professional, central office staff of 10 in Greensboro, NC; and a volunteer board of governors with 123 total members through the committee structure.


Incorporation under leadership of SETC’s first female President

During the 1963 Convention, Ann Stahlman Hill was the first female SETC president and presided over the official procedure to make SETC a corporation. Ann was later awarded the SETC Suzanne M. Davis Memorial Award in 1973. In 1974, Ann proudly listed the incorporation of SETC first among the accomplishments of her administration.

Further reading:
Ann Stahlman Hill Papers – Arizona Archives

Ann Stahlman Hill

Check back as we keep adding to our list of 70 Fascinating Facts.


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