This interview series spotlights SETC members who have taken active roles in SETC while advancing in their careers.
When Ginger Poole attended her first SETC Convention as a student at the University of West Georgia in 1996, she had no idea that she would continue to be involved with the organization for the next 20-plus years. She was just an auditionee looking for a summer role. But in the years that followed – as Poole moved from acting to theatre administration – she found that her connection to SETC evolved with her, helping to pave her path.
“I think the benefits of growing within SETC are the opportunities and the connections – the people I have met over the years and continue to learn from. It is a special group, and I lean on them a lot,” she says.
What are the roles you have had in SETC and how did one lead to another?
I started out as a student auditionee and, once I got my Equity card, moved on to become an AEA member auditioning for roles. Later, I moved to the other side of the table, attending auditions to cast shows for different theatres – Flat Rock Playhouse, New Stage Theatre and Mill Mountain Theatre – and serving as an adjudicator for SETC Professional Screening Auditions in six states. I also have served on panels, conducted convention workshops and served on task forces. I currently am in my second term as a member of the Finance Committee and serve as vice-chair of the Professional Theatre Division. It was an organic growth, from student to performer to administration and the other side of the table.
What has made you keep coming back and taking on new roles?
All of my professional theatre contacts have come through SETC. I believe in the mission and the opportunities SETC brings to the academics and professionals in our industry. For example, Mill Mountain Theatre went through some difficult financial times back in 2009. When we were able to come back, SETC was a big part of our strategic planning to get the word out to students and the professional community that Mill Mountain Theatre was alive and well.
When did you first get involved with SETC?
My first experience with SETC was when a colleague of mine asked me to take over for him sitting on the Florida Theatre Conference board. I accepted and shortly after that I was asked to coordinate the Screening Auditions for SETC at The Florida Theatre Conference. I accepted. [SETC Professional Services Manager] April Marshall came down to train me herself, and I haven’t looked back since. From there, I went to the conference and was amazed at all of the opportunities there were for students. That is when I started grooming my students to audition at SETC. I started developing workshops for my students around being successful at SETC.
April remains one of my favorite parts of SETC. She is generously giving, kind, extremely accessible and knows everything there is to know about SETC. Having April as my personal resource really made my experience at SETC extremely positive.
What are the other roles you have had in SETC, and how did each lead to the next?
Being a screening coordinator led to me going to the conference consistently. April Marshall mentored me and suggested I sit on other committees. Serving on different committees led me to sharing my voice – that voice being heard and respected and ultimately recommended further for other responsibilities within SETC. Serving, being involved and connecting at the conference led me to meet people and find where I fit.
What has made you keep coming back and taking on new roles in the organization?
I believe in the mission.
I am an actor. I know what SETC says it provides it actually provides. SETC has personally connected me to a theatre company that I would have never worked with because of my small realm of reach. When I can see measurables, I am all in.
I am a professor. SETC has helped me to give my students real work that is professional and serves as an opportunity for them to exercise what they have been taught. I see my students benefiting immensely.
I am a theatre person. When I am talking to other theatre people, collaborating, networking and the like—I am more connected. I am learning about myself, learning new skills and passions. SETC has given me that. SETC gives me the opportunity to do what I love.
What are the benefits you have seen from “growing within SETC”?
I think the benefit of growing within SETC is enlarging your network. Not only enlarging my network, but my students’ and my theatre friends’ networks as well. I enjoy being able to connect the right people together in the arts.
Another benefit of growing in SETC is learning the wealth of knowledge about the organization. The more I serve, the more I learn about how the organization actually works. SETC is a huge organization, and I think the best way to learn is serving in different capacities.
Because I have served and continue to grow within SETC, I have the opportunity to effect change in the areas that I serve. I am contributing to the growth and the efficacy of the organization. That fills me with immense pride.