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Saturday, September 24, 2022

Brittany Bennett has never auditioned for a panel of judges.

That experience is one the UF theatre performance sophomore is looking for, she said, as she continues to grow as a performer.

That’s why Bennett, 19, is participating in the 60th annual Florida Theatre Conference at Santa Fe College, which begins Wednesday and lasts until Saturday. She is one of 3,000 high schoolers, college students and theater professionals who will attend the largest theater conference in the Southeast, according to organizers.

"What’s really interesting to me is that there’s a lot of opportunity to get a lot of work and a lot of exposure," said Bennett, who said she is looking for work outside of UF and wants to be exposed to the producers of large-scale theater productions.

It’s the fifth consecutive year Santa Fe has hosted the event, which was chosen in part because of its location and the size of the Fine Arts Theater, said Alora Haynes, the chair of fine arts at Santa Fe.

"Because of our Northeastern Florida location, we knew we would be a location for this conference," Haynes said.

The conference is separated into workshops hosted by middle school, high school, youth, community, drama tour and professional theater divisions.

"People come here to present their work to others and that is open to the entire conference," said Terry Klenk, the secretary and treasurer of the Florida Theater Conference and a theater professor at the college.

High school and college transfer auditions are also held for more than 45 colleges and universities, Klenk said.

He said the event costs about $80,000 to host, but participants pay about $80. This type of event, he said, is important to the Santa Fe theater department.

"As the No. 1 college in the nation, we are committed to having and hosting these types of leadership conferences," Klenk said.

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