April 22, 2013
Contact: Mary Moates, Communications Assistant
Last month, Maryville College junior Rachel Jarnagin ’14 had the opportunity to work on the “Dream Team” at the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC) convention in Louisville, Ky. The nation’s largest theatre convention, SETC annually welcomes more than 4,000 actors, professional company representatives, design and technical professionals, theatre educators and students for auditions, workshops, interviews and performances.
Only 10 college students were selected for SETC’s competitive technical theater internship and a spot on the “Dream Team.”
At the College, Jarnagin, who is double majoring in theatre studies and sociology, has stage-managed a variety of plays for the theater department, including “Xanadu,” “The Sniper’s Nest” and the upcoming production of Lisa Soland’s “Waiting.” She has also acted as technical director, assistant stage manager and house manager for other shows at the College.
“The skills she has developed at our school, such as her ability to manage people, time and pressure, made Rachel perfect for the stressful environment that the Dream Team works under,” said Dr. Heather McMahon, associate professor of theater at the College. “It made her competitive for this position, and Rachel’s internship on the Dream Team will impress potential employers, since she had to be one of the ‘best of the best’ to get appointed to that group.”
According to Jarnagin, she plans to pursue professional stage-management after graduation from MC. She said that, during her time at SETC, she was surrounded by those accomplished in the field.
“I even made a contact with a professor who was in charge of a stage management graduate program, and she gave me tips on how to break out into the professional world of stage management,” Jarnagin said.
During her internship, Jarnagin’s duties alternated from running the gear booth and selling SETC merchandise, working at the registration desk, participating in miscellaneous workshop and cleaning duties and managing the stopwatch for graduate school auditions when students’ monologues went overtime.
“My instructions were to time each audition and, if the person auditioning went over two and a half minutes, I had to stop them by saying, ‘Thank you,’” Jarnagin said. “Thankfully, if they went overtime, that did not disqualify them. It put me at ease to know that I wasn’t crushing someone’s dreams, because most of the auditions were amazing.”
Jarnagin said that her favorite part of the conference was meeting new people.
“While I was in there, I met a lot of amazing new friends who help run SETC, but I also had the pleasure of meeting Frankie Day, the national president of Alpha Psi Omega Theatre Honors Society,” Jarnagin said. “She hugged me after I told her I was the vice president of our chapter at MC.”
Jennifer Luck, technical director for the Maryville College Theatre Department, said that the contacts Jarnagin made through her involvement at the conference would prove invaluable for her future.
“As opposed to just meeting Rachel at the conference’s job fair, the companies recruiting for their summer staff, internships and graduate schools at SETC have all seen her in action,” Luck said. “Effectively, her involvement throughout the conference was a six-day interview process. She has made numerous friends in her fellow Dream Team members, as well as contacts with people who can help her achieve her career goals.”
In addition to making contacts, Jarnagin said that, through the variety of duties she completed during her Dream Team internship, she learned what kind of atmosphere she would experience working within professional theater.
“I went from being surrounded by those who took their job incredibly seriously and, other days, I would be around those who enjoyed their jobs and had fun,” Jarnagin said. “An important part of stage management is finding a way to be able to work with people without stepping on toes. This definitely helped me learn about that.”
Jarnagin said that she was proud to represent MC during her time at the conference.
“There was this automatic sense of respect for who I was because I was a member of the Dream Team,” Jarnagin said. “Someone who wasn’t familiar with Maryville College told me: ‘That school must be putting out some pretty good students for you to make it on the Dream Team.’”
McMahon said the skills Jarnagin exercised during her time at SETC were not new, but that internships like the Dream Team help students build the confidence necessary to pursue a field, like theater, that can be intimidating.
“Most importantly at SETC, Rachel realized that she can compete with students from other college theater programs,” McMahon said.
Not only has she has already been in contact with several professional theater workers whom she met during her time at SETC in Louisville, Jarnagin said that she plans to re-apply to be a member of the Dream Team for the 2014 conference, which will take place in Mobile, Ala.
“There is so much you learn as a Dream Team member that you wouldn’t learn any other way,” Jarnagin said.
Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state‘s third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for its academic rigor and its focus on the liberal arts, Maryville is where students come to stretch their minds, stretch themselves and learn how to make a difference in the world. Total enrollment for the fall 2013 semester was 1,168.