KNOXVILLE, TN – The Southeastern Theatre Conference annual convention brings together theatre lovers – actors, singers, dancers, designers, technicians, stage managers, directors, playwrights and more – to celebrate the art of theatre. MVNU students and faculty made up just seven out of over 4,000 convention attendees from Feb. 27 – March 3 in Knoxville, TN. Attendees could participate in workshops, performance festivals, auditions, job interviews, keynotes, seminars and panel discussions.
One of the most popular workshops throughout the conference was “Creating Worlds Lord of the Rings Style,” hosted by presenter Frank Marquette of Troy University. Theatre designers and fantasy fans packed into the space to hear from the creators who worked on the Helm’s Deep set for The Fellowship of the Ring. Marquette outlined the process of building mammoth structures almost exclusively out of foam and how that can be translated to the stage. He also pushed the idea that, “If you’re a nice person and a professional, you’ve got a career.”
Stage combat also became a fast favorite with conference-goers. Through “Unarmed in the Round” and “How to Fight a Bear,” attendees learned some beginner stage combat techniques from certified choreographers with the Society of American Fight Directors – Caitlyn Herzlinger, Paul Pharris, and Andrew Ray – and how to incorporate character choices and traits into combat choreography.
The founders of Theatrical Intimacy Education – Chelsea Pace and Laura Rikard – shared about how theatre creators can make sure that intimate choreography is both safe and consensual. Liberty University Theatre Arts chair Linda Cooper taught acting students how to analyze lyrics through the Chekhov method and how different pieces of a song can be internal, binary or for the entire audience. R. Cliff Thompson of Freed-Hardeman University hosted a discussion on “Theatrical Imagination in the Bible: Acting Before the Greeks,” and the ways in which the Old and New Testaments describe situations that resemble traditional forms of western theatre.
Ryan Long, assistant professor of theatre at MVNU, believes that “the SETC annual convention is a great place for networking and learning,” and is an opportunity to “try out new areas of theatre or to find new things that might not be available in your area.”
Freshman Daniel Carpenter said the conference “reinvigorated [his] passion for theatre and learning” and inspired him to reach out to a local community theatre. Junior Rachel Rinehart agreed that it reminded her of her love for acting and that she added skills to her tool belt that she will use to become a better actress. Long said that, “It was so exciting to get to take all the theatre majors this year and see what new things they discovered and new connections they made."