Leighton M. Ballew Directing Scholarship

Scholarship winners will be announced in the coming weeks! We apologize for not meeting the publicized June 30 announcement date.

About the Scholarship

The Leighton M. Ballew Directing Scholarship is awarded to a graduate student studying directing at an accredited university. The award is named after Dr. Leighton M. Ballew who served as Chair of the Drama Department (now Theatre and Film Studies) at the University of Georgia for more than 40 years.

2019-2020 Scholarship Applications

Thank you to everyone who applied! We look forward to announcing the winning scholar.

Selection Process and Timeline

  • Applications Accepted: Jan. 1 – April 1, 2019
  • Application Reviews / Candidate Interviews: April – June 2019
  • Winning Scholar Announced on SETC Website: June 30, 2019
  • Scholarship Funds Available: Upon Proof of Matriculation, 2019-2020 Academic Year
  • Winning Scholar Attends SETC Convention: 71st Annual Convention; Louisville, KY; Feb. 26 – Mar. 1, 2020

One Scholar Will Receive

  • $2,500
  • Free one-year SETC student membership
  • Free registration for the 2020 SETC Convention
  • Photo and bio recognition on the SETC website


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

  • You must be planning to attend an accredited program of graduate studies in Theatre Directing during the 2019-2020 academic year.
  • You must have graduated from, be currently attending, or have plans to attend an accredited academic institution in one of the following 10 states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia or West Virginia.

Application Materials

For consideration, eligible candidates must submit the following materials in a single, multi-page PDF document to info@setc.org by the deadline:

  • Completed Application Form
  • A complete resume, including any work in stage management or play direction
  • Three letters of reference speaking to the applicant’s potential as a graduate student in Theatre Directing
  • Letter of acceptance by an accredited graduate program in Theatre Directing (if available)
  • Complete transcripts from all colleges/universities attended


Questions about submitting application materials should be sent to info@setc.org. Other questions about this scholarship should be sent to Ballew Scholarship Chair Pat Gagliano.

2018-2019 Ballew Directing Scholar

Congratulations, Shane Strawbridge!

An MFA graduate of The Playwright’s Lab at Hollins University, Shane has spent the past decade working in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex as an actor, playwright, composer, lyricist, teacher, dramaturg, journalist, and curmudgeon. He has a Bachelor of Music degree from Howard Payne University and a Master of Arts in Drama from Texas Woman’s University. As an actor, Shane has won numerous accolades including being acknowledged for one of the best performances of the year by TheaterJones.com and being recognized as one of Dallas-Fort Worth’s Best Actors by CBS. As a playwright, his work has won awards from the Kennedy Center, the Southwest Playwriting Competition, and the RedEye10s Festival. His work as a theatre journalist and arts advocate has been featured by Theater Jones and the Kennedy Center. Shane is currently a Graduate Part Time Instructor at Texas Tech University where he is pursuing an Interdisciplinary PhD in Fine Arts with a concentration in theatre and tracks in Acting/Directing and History/Theory/Criticism.

Scholarship Stories

Recent Ballew Directing Scholars share what winning the scholarship meant to their studies and how the award funds helped them pursue their ambitions:

Tom Alsip

Tom Alsip ~ 2017 Ballew Directing Scholar

“The Ballew scholarship was incredibly helpful to me in ways that I didn’t realize it would be. I had initially planned to find local work in the summer to save money to pay for my final year in graduate school at the University of Alabama. However, with the money given to me in my scholarship, I was free to accept an acting job with the University of Alabama’s SummerTide Theatre and use the money from the scholarship to pay the tuition for my final year of graduate school.”

Lauren Ellis

Lauren Ellis ~ 2016 Ballew Directing Scholar

“The Ballew Directing Scholarship opened so many doors for me to continue my education as a theatre director. The scholarships provided by SETC are gateways to wonderful opportunities as a student, an artist and a human being, and I am so appreciative.”

Kristin Rose Kelly ~ 2015 Ballew Directing Scholar

“The Leighton M. Ballew Directing Scholarship allowed me to attend SITI Company Theatre Workshop at Skidmore College. I was able to practice Viewpoints, Suzuki and Composition with amazing SITI ensemble members while collaborating with theatre artists from all over the world. The workshop has been integral to my MFA directing projects at Virginia Tech. I frequently use Viewpoints for dance and directing projects for warm ups, group connection and awareness, and staging. Suzuki has allowed me to reconnect to myself as a performer and the rigor, focus, breath, and energy needed in performance. Finally, Composition has given me tools and theories as a director to consider and attend to the how of storytelling.”