Contagious creativity, excitement and drama will infect Santa Fe College’s Northwest Campus when almost 3000 people of all ages gather Wednesday-Saturday, Nov. 2-5, 2016, for the annual Florida Theatre Conference Festival. Participants—who range in age from middle school to mature thespians, high school students to college faculty, and college students to theatre professionals—will attend a variety of workshops, performances, auditions, a college fair and a vendor fair.
Interested area residents can also attend with inexpensive day passes that may be purchased during the festival at the registration desk in the lobby of the Fine Arts Hall. The passes provide admission to workshops and to the opening and closing ceremonies.
“This is the largest theatre conference in the Southeast and it’s growing every year,” explained SF Theatre Professor Terry Klenk, who also serves as secretary-treasurer of the Florida Theatre Conference Festival organization. “We have over 65 workshops. For the college fair, 49 different colleges are sending representatives to meet with and audition students. The vendor fair showcases many products available to theatre companies and we’re delighted that a local business, ThemeWorks—a full service custom fabrication firm in High Springs—is participating in this year’s fair.”
The conference’s opening ceremony on Nov. 3 features a performance of “Hamlet” by the Asolo Repertory Theatre’s touring company from Sarasota. That event includes a discussion with the audience about the play as well as what to expect as a member of a professional touring company. Doors to the Fine Arts Hall Theatre open at 7:30 p.m. for the 8 p.m. performance.
The closing ceremony on Nov. 5 features “Smokey Joe’s Café,” with songs by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, performed by students from Eastern Florida State College (formerly Brevard Community College). The awards ceremony will include an award to the SF College Police Department for keeping everyone safe during the 3-1/2-day festival. Doors to the Fine Arts Hall Theatre open at 7:15 p.m. for the 7:30 p.m. curtain.
The festival has seven divisions: community theatre; DraMature (for older thespians); middle school; high school; college faculty; college students; and theatre for youth. Students may attend workshops in singing, acting, pantomime, dance, stage combat, directing, playwriting, and all technical areas of stage production including lighting and sound.
“We’ve never been booked this solid—this is quite an active festival!” Klenk exclaimed. “For every time slot, there are five different workshops. Santa Fe College students will produce, direct and act in a showcase piece that is part of a 10-Minute Play Festival. College transfer students may audition for upper division schools. Upper division college students can meet theatre professionals and audition for 50 spots in the Southeastern Theatre Conference Festival. Students in middle school and the theatre for youth division can have older people critique their work. People of all ages can find out how they compare to their peers. The festival isn’t a competition, but there is a competitive element to some of the workshops and events.”
Klenk expressed gratitude to the Gainesville community and to the college for their support of this arts-related event that has a positive economic impact on local businesses.
The Florida Theatre Conference (FTC) is a nonprofit educational theatre organization founded in 1956 to provide programs and services to individuals and theatre groups. Goals are to celebrate the diversity of Florida theatre, to nurture communications among theatre groups, to advance high standards and to encourage public appreciation.
The festival is organized by FTC and Santa Fe College and sponsored in part by Publix Super Markets, Inc., and by SF College and the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture and Visit Gainesville, a Tourist Development Tax Grant from the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners in conjunction with the Alachua County Tourist Development Council.
For more information about the festival, call Terry Klenk at 352-395-5092.
For more information about the Fine Arts programs at SF College, call Alora Haynes at 352-395-5296.