Ready to Direct Competition


Learn more about the 2023 Ready to Direct Competition here.

The Ready to Direct Competition offers early-career directors (adults and graduating MFA candidates) who are seeking professional experience an opportunity to learn from seasoned professionals and possibly even earn work at a professional theatre.

A select group of pre-registered candidates participate in an immersive schedule of directing-focused events at the SETC Convention — these events are open to observation by companies interested in hiring a Ready to Direct candidate. Up to two candidates may receive a professional directing opportunity and payment as negotiated with the hiring theatre. SETC supports the companies financially by offering hiring grants of up to $1,000.

Participating Companies

Negotiated companies will be actively seeking director(s) to join their artistic team for the upcoming season. Companies who wish to hire directors or partner in Ready to Direct are encouraged to contact the SETC Central Office for more information.

Email SETC

More Directing Programming

In addition to participating in a curated schedule of Ready to Direct events, candidates are invited and encouraged to participate in the variety of workshops and events geared toward directors that take place at the annual SETC Convention. The annual Directing Interest Meeting offers an opportunity to get more involved with SETC’s directing community. Each year brings a new selection of directing-related workshops and panels.

The 2021 Ready to Direct Competition was not held during this year virtual convention year.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the 2020 Ready to Direct Competition at the 71st annual SETC Convention in Louisville, KY.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the 2019 Ready to Direct Competition at the 70th annual SETC Convention in Knoxville, TN.

“Ready to Direct is such an important step in helping early career directors find work. For a hiring company to look at someone’s resume and guess what their process is like is not enough, they should have the opportunity to watch a director in the rehearsal room. This is exactly the opportunity that Ready to Direct provides. . . . Having this competition on my resume helped my chances of getting hired and now I have a directing apprenticeship this summer with Women’s Theatre Festival in NC and a year-long literary internship with Florida Studio Theatre starting in August.”  Madison McAllister, 2019 Ready to Direct Candidate

Photo by Caitie McMekin.
Photo by Caitie McMekin.

2018 Winner and Hiring Company

Sarah Balli

Sarah Balli is trained as both a visual designer and theatrical director. As an artist, Sarah has experience with a multitude of mediums, ranging from oil painting to graphic design. Upon successfully earning a BA in Theatre Design from Southeastern Louisiana University, she became the first winner of SETC’s inaugural Ready to Direct Competition. As a director, Sarah sees herself as a creative collaborator. She has served as a director, designer and dramaturge. Sarah’s interest in social justice and theatre continues to drive her work, including directing and designing Ntozake Shange’s complex choreopoem, for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf for her undergraduate senior thesis.

Birmingham Children’s Theatre

“BCT is thrilled to have Ms. Balli with us this season as a Directing Apprentice. This fall, she directed a very successful production of Rumpelstiltskin which played to over 4.500 school-aged children in Birmingham and over 5,000 students while on tour across Alabama. She also worked alongside Executive Artistic Director Brandon Bruce on our holiday production of Peter Pan, working as the Assistant Director. She has found additional opportunities throughout the season as an Assistant Stage Manager, Scenic Painter and general Jill-of-all-trades while spending time in the office working alongside Mr. Bruce to gain experience that will further her development as a director and potential future Artistic Director. In 2019, Ms. Balli will be directing The Three Little Kittens (opening January 22, 2019) and Thumbelita: a world-premiere production from acclaimed playwright Lucinda McDermott.”


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