Ready to Direct Competition

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.

To participate as a Ready to Direct candidate, early career directors must register for the 2020 SETC Convention and submit online applications for the Ready to Direct Competition and Theatre Job Fair through SETC’s online registration portal. Please call the SETC Central Office at 336-272-3645 if you have any questions.

Candidate Application & Guidelines

Before the Convention:

  • Up to five (5) candidates will be chosen by a committee of professional directors.
  • If selected, candidates prepare a portfolio display, video or other methods of sharing their directing work with hiring and Ready to Direct companies.
  • Selected candidates read the play selected by the committee (Title will be sent upon acceptance).

At the Convention:

  • Participate in a series of Ready to Direct events at the SETC Convention.
  • Set up materials in the Theatre Job Fair by 10 a.m. on Thursday. Meet company representatives, interview and connect. Materials may remain in the Theatre Job Fair for further perusal, or they may be removed at the candidate’s discretion after the showcase.
  • Attend any of the additional directing workshops available during the convention.

Tentative 2020 Ready to Direct Convention Schedule

Ready to Direct Candidates “1st Rehearsal”

Wed., Feb. 26, 2020   |  7 – 9 p.m.
Project Leads: TBA

Pre-registered candidates meet with project leaders and then disperse to work separately with two actors, beginning the rehearsal process — this could include staging, a read thru, table work, exercises, etc. — for a pre-selected text. Professional, community and university theatre directors, and others are invited to move room to room to observe the candidates in process. Entire group re-gathers at 8:30 p.m. for feedback and a discussion on what they were able to accomplish and what they wish they could have accomplished.

Theatre Job Fair – Offstage Showcase

Thurs., Feb. 27, 2020  |  10:15 – 10:30 a.m.
Presider: April J’C Marshall, SETC Professional Theatre Services

Candidates are introduced with their portfolios to hiring theatre representatives from the Theatre Job Fair for a chance at discussion and interview. Note: Based on companies’ schedules, a theatre may ask to meet and interview you at a different time after this initial introduction.

Ready to Direct Discussion

Thurs., Feb. 27, 2020  |  5:30 – 6:45 p.m.
Dialogue Leader: TBA

Participants discuss directors’ choices and processes and explore ideas of dramaturgy and dramatic action. Open to all convention attendees interested in directing.

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 April J’C Marshall in the SETC Central Office for more information.

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.

2019 Recap

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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