Centre professor will head Southeastern theater group


Anthony R. Haigh wraps up a year's worth of work for the Southeastern Theatre Conference this weekend with the 55th annual convention that he has been planning.

He begins another year with the organization this weekend, this time as president.

The Centre College professor of dramatic arts, as president-elect, has been planning the largest theater conference in America, which runs today through Sunday in Chattanooga, Tenn.

"It brings together all aspects of theater - professional, amateur, community and high school," Haigh said.

"The convention has upwards of 4,000 people attending, at a different site in the south each year. Theater companies from all over America come to take part."

The convention has four standing theater festivals - for high schools, community theaters, 10-minute plays and a "theater for youth invitational."


This year, Haigh has organized a new event, a "fringe festival" that he said is "bringing together an eclectic range of unusual types of theater."

Throughout the convention, attendees can participate in undergraduate or graduate school auditions, and professional auditions.

About 120 to 150 companies show up for SETC to recruit actors, management personnel and technicians as well as interns and other full-time employees.

Additionally, about 400 workshops can be attended, ranging from how to make Balinese masks to how to make it in New York.

One of the workshops this year is titled "Presenting Issue-Oriented Theatre in High School" and is being led by Joan Haigh, Jane Dewey and Jeff Meyer, all of Danville.

The workshop's subject matter focuses on "The Laramie Project," which was performed at Danville High School last year.

Haigh and assistant professor of dramatic arts Matthew Hallock are workshop presenters during the convention.

About 27 Centre students are attending

About 27 Centre students are attending. Keynote speakers include Eric Booth, who has just written a book focusing on the role of artists in the 21st century, Haigh said; Mimi Kennedy, actress and mom of Jenna Elfman of "Dharma and Greg" fame; and playwright Christopher Durang.

Haigh will keep a busy schedule over the next year. Not only will he serve as president of SETC and commute to the office in Greensboro, N.C., he will maintain his class load at Centre and serve as division chairman for the department.

As president for SETC, Haigh will run the "daily process of the organization." A number of issues are on his plate, primarily whether to expand SETC or not.

"Several states want to join SETC because it's the largest theater conference," Haigh explains. "Some states, particularly Louisiana, have been most vociferous in their desire to join SETC."

The 10 states in SETC are Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia and Mississippi.

Haigh also is "keen on looking at the services the organization gives to K-12 teachers."

The organization has worked with high schools and dramatic arts, he said, but he wants SETC to "look more at classroom drama and drama curriculum."

"Lots of teachers use the conference for continuing education credit," Haigh said. "I'd like to formalize (that opportunity)."

Haigh has been involved with SETC since he came to Kentucky in 1991.

"Gradually, over the years, I've increased the involvement of Centre College," he said. "It's been one signature feature of the drama program.

"The students go to a lot of workshops and interview jobs. We place them in real jobs after graduation."

Attendance at events such as the SETC convention enable Centre students to better compete with conservatory-educated students for jobs, he adds.

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