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Theatre: What Can I Do With This Degree?

Performing

Employers

  • Community theatres
  • Regional theatres
  • Commercial theatres
  • Summer stock theatres
  • Dinner theatres
  • Children's theatres
  • University theatre groups
  • Touring companies
  • Industrial shows
  • Show groups
  • Amusement and theme parks
  • Television/Film studios
  • Radio stations

Information & Strategies

  • Participate in acting workshops, courses, and seminars to get advice and experience and to make contact with others in the field.
  • Join unions or actors guilds to stay abreast of opportunities and developments in the field.
  • Get as much acting experience as possible. Perform in school productions, community theatre, summer stock, etc. to hone acting skills.
  • Prepare a professional resume that lists your acting experience. Have your resume attached to or printed on the reverse side of an 8x10 photo of yourself.
  • Be prepared to make the rounds. Distribute your resume to numerous agencies and offices. Follow up with several personal visits.
  • Be aware that more opportunities exist in large cities such as New York and Los Angeles.
  • Learn about the entertainment industry as a whole. Take courses on entertainment law, business, management, etc. 
  • An extensive network of contacts is essential. Get to know people working in your field and related areas.

Directing

  • Direction
  • Technical direction
  • Casting
  • Stage management
  • Support staff

Employers

  • Theatres
  • Television/Film studios

Information & Strategies

  • Participate in the Director's Guild Training Program.
  • Develop leadership skills through participation in campus and community organizations.
  • Experience with fundraising is important. Volunteer to do this with local theatres and arts councils.
  • Learn what types of permits and insurance are needed to film or perform in certain areas.
  • Volunteer with directors in local theatres to become familiar with the environment. Serving as an assistant is a great way to get started in this area.
  • Gain directing experience by participating in college productions.

Behind the Scenes

  • Set design/construction
  • Property design
  • Lighting design
  • Sound design
  • Costume design
  • Camera operation
  • Hair and makeup
  • Special effects
  • Wardrobe
  • Prop management
  • Broadcast technology
  • Riggers
  • Electricians

Employers

  • Community theatres
  • Regional theatres
  • Commercial theatres
  • Summer stock theatres
  • Dinner theatres
  • Children's theatres
  • University theatre groups
  • Touring companies
  • Industrial shows
  • Show groups
  • Amusement and theme parks
  • Television/Film studios
  • Radio stations

Information & Strategies

  • Learn to work well in a team.
  • Develop a sense of artistry and creativity.
  • Become involved in the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). This organization can give you information about becoming an apprentice as well as help you make valuable contacts.
  • Get experience. Offer your services to school and local theatres.
  • Read industry magazines and books to learn about your area.
  • For sound design: Become familiar with computer technology as digital sound effects and electronic music replace traditional means of sound design.
  • For costume design: Supplement your program with courses in art history and fashion design.
  • Learn about different eras in history in order to recreate on stage. A basic knowledge of history and architecture is helpful.

Writing

  • Scriptwriting
  • Playwriting
  • Screenwriting
  • Journalism
  • Publicity (press agents)
  • Research

Employers

  • Theatres
  • Television/Film studios
  • Television stations
  • Magazines
  • Newspapers
  • Freelance

Information & Strategies

  • Review plays, movies, and TV shows for school or local newspaper.
  • Theatrical press agents publicize and promote theatrical productions. They write press releases, arrange press conferences, and other media events. Take courses in related areas such as public relations, advertising, and business.
  • Reporters spend time on the set absorbing everything. They interview actors as well as craftspeople.
  • Get as much writing experience as possible. Write for the college newspaper, enter playwriting contests, etc.
  • See many different productions and shows. Read a variety of scripts to see how scripts are developed.
  • Researchers gather information for movie writers. They may also track down photographs of historical documents to make the film more authentic.

Business

  • Producing
  • Management
  • Agents
  • Marketing
  • Fundraising and development
  • Coordination of volunteers
  • Administration of arts programs
  • Box office sales

Employers

  • Theatres
  • Arts councils
  • Television/Film studios

Information & Strategies

  • Secretarial/clerical positions in theatres and studios are often stepping stones to other positions and a good way to make contacts.
  • Take business courses to supplement your program.
  • Obtain a working knowledge of computers.
  • Gain a thorough understanding of theatre.
  • Develop skills in leadership, negotiation, budgeting, and fundraising.

Education

  • Teaching

Employers

  • Public and private schools
  • Colleges and universities
  • Performing arts centers

Information & Strategies

  • Obtain certification for the state in which you wish to teach. Obtain dual certification for more teaching opportunities.
  • Get experience in various areas of theatre, as well as working with young people.
  • Obtain a graduate degree to teach on the college level. Develop one or two areas of expertise within theatre arts.

General Strategies

  • Complete an internship or an apprenticeship with a local theatre. Participate in summer stock.
  • Network: Talk with people working in the field to find out about jobs and opportunities.
  • Read newspapers and periodicals related to the theatre to keep up with new developments. Read the "trades"– magazines and newspapers that report events in the entertainment industry. Read the "theatre" section of daily newspapers to find out about upcoming productions.
  • Get your foot in the door and get involved with productions in any way you can. Be prepared to do various tasks assigned by stage managers or producers.
  • Join professional groups as an opportunity to make contacts.
  • Volunteer with fundraising efforts for the arts.
  • Be aware of scams. Check out the legitimacy of agencies and companies before paying any fees.
  • Be prepared to move to a metropolitan area where more opportunities exist.
  • A career in the arts takes patience, dedication, and luck!
  • Have a backup plan. Be aware that the unemployment rate for actors hovers around 85%. Develop skills that qualify you for other jobs while you wait for opportunities in acting. Consider pairing theatre with another career interest or major to open up more job opportunities.
  • Theatre helps students develop verbal and written communication, public speaking, and teamwork skills. These transferable skills are valued by many types of employers.
  • There are many ways to be involved in the theatre while pursuing other career options.
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Next Steps

Learn about a concentration in theatre through North Park's communication arts program.

Opera Scenes at North Park University