"If you were good enough you wouldn’t need a day job."

That’s the message I received over and over again growing up – I wanted to work in theatre, and everyone knew that an aspiring theatremaker would wait tables or pull pints for a while before getting the Big Break and never looking back. It all sounded so straightforward – you work hard, eventually, someone notices your talent, and you get the career you deserve. If you didn’t, it’s because you either weren’t good enough or didn’t work hard enough.

Of course, I didn’t know anyone who actually worked in theatre. My perception was shaped by films, TV shows, and interviews – fictional and heavily edited narratives. Drama school reinforced the idea that hard work and talent were what it took and that anything but uncomplicated success was a personal failure.

Once I was out of drama school, however, a different picture began to form. I saw brilliant actors work themselves so hard they burned out and quit. I knew how hard I was working and I wasn’t getting anywhere, so did that mean I wasn’t good enough? I was looking for directing jobs and couldn’t get hired, so I took on more work at my day job to earn enough money to stage my own work. That’s a surefire way to get noticed, right?

Except that’s not what happened. I made my own work, it took a long time to add up to being offered paid work, and I still needed a day job. I won a prestigious award and still needed a day job. Over the past year, I’ve had my first opera performed, I’ve been on international residencies, my first book got published, and I directed a popular Fringe show which is currently booking tour dates in the US and Canada. People look at my CV and website and tell me I have an enviable and successful career, and I agree. But I still teach acting classes. That’s still my money job. I just no longer think it has anything to do with how good I am. It has everything to do with theatre being an industry that doesn’t pay well and where work is sporadic.

Day rates often make it sound like theatre is well-paid – and sure, if you were getting that day rate every working day for 48-50 weeks a year, it would be. But remember that it’s covering you for all the days you don’t get paid for – the days when you’re doing applications/self-tapes, going to auditions/interviews, learning new skills, prepping for rehearsals. The number of days you spend putting in work and the number of days you get paid for are not the same thing.

I’m not telling you this to put you off. I love what I do and I regret nothing. I’m lucky enough to really like my money job, too – nurturing new actors is one of my favourite things to do. I’m telling you all of this because if you’re someone who needs a money job while you find your feet in the industry, it’s good to put some thought into what that will be. You want something that will pay your bills but leave you with enough energy to put into your art. Ideally, you want something that connects to your art rather than taking you away from it, like teaching or ushering or script reading, where you might also meet future collaborators who are also walking the longer path and experiencing the same self-doubt as you. Have faith in each other, and in yourself, and trust that the quality of your work will get you to where you need to be – and that needing a money job is no reflection of anything except many years of the arts being undersupported.

Written by Jen McGregor (any pronouns), director/playwright/dramaturg. Working in theatre since 2011 – making a living at it since 2018!

There are a lot of stereotypes about people who work in theatre. You have to have a loud and in-your-face personality, and you have to enjoy being the centre of attention, but like all stereotypes, they're not actually true. When I was younger I used to have panic attacks if I had to speak in front of people. The fear of being asked to read aloud in school was paralysing. But I found other ways to make myself seen and heard.

Moving my body in dance classes gave me a new language, a way of saying all the things I wasn't confident enough to say with my voice. With choreography to concentrate on, I could step out onstage and forget the audience existed. And when I eventually started acting, I could immerse myself in different characters and become someone else, someone who could say and do things I didn't feel brave enough to.

Obviously, not everyone shares this experience. Maybe you're perfectly happy hiding out backstage among the costumes or sound equipment. There are a million ways to be creative and countless different careers in the arts where your skills, and your voice, will be important. I now run my own theatre company, managing projects from behind the scenes. I write, direct and produce plays that give other people the chance to see themselves reflected onstage. Creativity can come in the form of finding new ways to fundraise or reach audiences, workshop activities that help people whose brains learn differently to thrive, or designing the eye-catching poster that draws someone to a show that will change their life. Creative industries are as limitless as the people who shape them, and all the best art comes from breaking the mould – even quietly.

During the casting process for shows I direct, I'm often drawn to the quiet actors, the gentle ones, who listen more than they talk. Even from the other side of the audition panel, theatre spaces seem full of impossibly confident people, but when you remember that pretending is part of the job, suddenly it becomes clear we're all just as nervous and eager to prove ourselves as one another. Trust that there are people out there who will appreciate your ability to watch, listen, absorb, empathise, understand and choose your words (or whatever form your expression takes) with intention. Because that is what gives art its power. It's about what we say, not how loud we say it.

There are times when you will have to push yourself, embrace the fear of jumping in head first in group auditions, be proud in showing that interview panel why your project deserves support, and make yourself heard when your ideas could help create something spectacular. It may take time to find your way of saying the things you need to say, maybe even longer to find places and people who make you feel brave enough to act on your passion. But trust me, it will be worth it.

Written by CJ Turner-McMullan (they/them) Creative Director of Apricity Theatre, freelance Actor, Director and Writer, PhD Researcher and Associate Lecturer at Bath Spa University.

November marks our ‘Misconception Series’, where we’ll explore the misconceptions of theatre careers and the types of people who do them - written by those working in the industry.

Blog One: Theatre isn’t a ‘real job’

Growing up, I was applauded by my bravery for pursuing a job in theatre. It was as if I was taking a risk that I may regret when ‘adulting’ needs to kick in, or that I needed to be prepared to take a lifetime of questioning and rejection. The perception of theatre careers is mixed and can change depending on who you talk to. Often, opinions can be contradictory. Some take the view that it’s a non-academic lazy option where you spend your time running around a rehearsal room, whilst some see it as a brutal and exhausting endeavour. While the latter can sometimes be true (but is becoming increasingly better) the first is definitely not; with those in the industry being some of the smartest, most intuitive, creatively brilliant and hardest working people I know. 

The need to tell stories and be creative are some of the most real things about human beings. So, why is there this misconception that theatre isn’t a ‘real job’?

Perhaps this comes from people (sometimes with the best intentions) that do not see the value in creative empowerment, non-hierarchical collaboration and creation, versus sales targets, KPIs and clear progression lines. 

It could also be that theatre work is very largely freelance, which can be viewed as financially unstable. However, so is plumbing and I never hear this profession described in the same way! If freelance work does worry you, there are numerous salaried jobs within the industry, my own included. Many of them are part of the production process or are more venue-based (see our full list of job roles in the industry). 

It could also be that people still think you need to work for free for a large portion of your early career. Get Into Theatre proves that this isn’t the case, and often there's funding or apprenticeships to explore your way through finding yourself in the theatre world, before you set a financial value for yourself (either freelance or salaried). I, myself, spent a large portion of my early career working Front of House at my local theatre and assisting youth theatre workshops - meaning I got paid to watch theatre and work with numerous directors and practitioners to develop my own craft. This was something that I found invaluable moving forward.

Whatever your (or someone that cares about you) reasoning for thinking theatre isn’t a ‘real job’, ask them and yourself:

What really makes a job a job? 

A job can often be described as something you just do for money, whereas a career is something you give your time, energy and drive to. There are many jobs within theatre, but many people are talking about a career when they want to break into the industry. A career gives breathing time to find your tribe, explore different disciplines and drive forward with what feels right at that time. What really makes a career and career? The person! If you want to do it, go for it!

What if I want to change careers later down the line? Am I limiting myself? 

The skills learned within the theatre industry are some of the most versatile and transferable. Plus, cross-sector working is becoming increasingly common within the industry, enabling you to gather even more skills. Don’t feel as though you are limiting yourself by choosing this path now, if anything you are expanding your options!

When I look to the future, what’s the most important thing to me? 

This is a very personal question and one I can’t answer for you. But, for me, it’s to be happy, empowered, creatively challenged, part of a like-minded tribe and make a difference to something that is so important to me. 

Whatever your reasoning for wanting a career in theatre, please know that those also in the industry value your contribution and absolutely know that what you’re doing is a ‘real job’, no matter what stage you’re at. 

Written by Alex Duarte-Davies (She/her) Director of Get Into Theatre, former Head of Community and Outreach at Theatre Royal Bath, freelance Producer, Director and Practitioner. Working in theatre and officially ‘adulting’. 

What Does a Theatre Swing Do?

Ever wondered what being a Theatre Swing entails and how it can help you pave your way into the industry? Then keep reading! This blog explores what it means to be a Theatre Swing, the difference between a Cast Swing and a Technical Swing, as well as how it can help widen your skill set.  

What is a Theatre Swing? 

Theatre Swings are an important part of the theatre world and how it operates. 

The role of a Cast Swing is to act as an understudy for numerous parts - both ensemble and principle. They will learn various roles and step in if a member of the cast is absent. 

A Technical Theatre Swing or ‘Tech Swing’ is someone who is a technical and production all-rounder. They will learn all aspects of the show within the lighting, sound, automation and stage management departments, rotating around each department to step in when a member of the crew is absent. 

Large casts and crews on long show runs will be given days off, so the Swing will be on hand to fill those gaps on rotation. 

What skills will a Theatre Swing have?

Whilst being a Swing allows you to gain industry knowledge first-hand, it can be beneficial to have certain skills:

Why be a Theatre Swing? Where can it lead you?

Being a Swing can open many doors within the industry and can allow you to:

What Roles Require Swings?

A common misconception is that Swings are just those acting within a show, when in reality, there are many roles within the industry that you can be a swing for, such as being a Technical Swing. Other departments also include: 

Looking for Experience? 

If you want to get into the industry by being a Theatre Swing or you want to take a look at the career options that being a Swing can lead to, check out our opportunities on Get Into Theatre.

One key thing to know about the theatre industry is that you don’t need a degree or professional qualification to pursue a performing arts career! 

If college and university isn’t an option you’d like to take, there are various ways for you to learn new skills and find the creative career path right for you; from backstage to costume, admin to acting!

In this blog, we’re going to highlight a handful of performing arts careers as well as a brief overview of what each role is.

Wardrobe and Costume

The wardrobe and costume departments are key parts of any production. Below are just two of the performing arts careers within this department that don’t require degrees

A costume designer will be responsible for designing all the costumes for a production, ensuring they are from the correct time period and more. They will work closely with the director to ensure the director's vision is shown through the costumes. This role requires a lot of research and a creative mind, as well as knowledge of period fashion and what outfits work well on stage.

Useful skills for a costume designer:

A dresser will assist with the maintenance of costumes and ensure quick changes happen with ease. Dresser responsibilities may also include storing costumes and returning hired items, ensuring items fit performers and ensuring costumes are where they need to be at the correct times. Shows across the country rely on Dressers to ensure things go smoothly and without them, shows with multiple costume changes or large ensembles, wouldn’t go ahead.

This role does not require a degree, however, having experience in the following will help:

To find costume and wardrobe opportunities, click here.

Stage Manager and Deputy Stage Manager

These two performing arts careers are crucial to the smooth running of any theatre production. A stage manager will:

A deputy stage manager (also known as a DSM) will often be required to assist the stage manager. They will ensure technical cues are correct, that props and set are where they need to be and they will also make note of any changes made to the script during rehearsals.

Neither of these roles requires a degree but it is useful to have these skills:

This role is particularly important on tech-heavy shows like Wicked where not only is sound and lighting involved but there are multiple special effects cues.

If you would like to discover stage management and deputy stage management opportunities, click here!

Graphic Designer

A performing arts career many may not consider is a graphic designer. From branding, logos, poster design and print ads, graphic designers play a vital part in ensuring a show's marketing looks good and attracts audience members. 

To follow a theatre graphic design career path, you don’t need to have a degree, however, having these skills will help you: 

Arts Admin

If you are looking to be involved within the theatre industry but don’t want to pursue such a creative path, then this career could be for you! Arts admin is a very varied role and includes responsibilities such as:

For this performing arts career, you don’t need a degree but it is helpful to have good communication and teamwork skills, as well as knowledge, interest, passion and experience in the performing arts industry. 

Click here to read our blog with more information on art admin careers.

Other training options for performing arts careers

Many theatre companies and theatres offer internship schemes. The Young Vic Theatre runs a work experience and internship programme every August, allowing young people interested in wardrobe, stage management, sound and lighting to gain high-quality placement experience.

Check out some opportunities on our website here and if you don’t see anything listed from your local theatre, get in contact with them via their contact page on their website!

Another great way to gain experience is by participating in workshops. The Get Into Theatre website has a range of free and paid workshop opportunities from all over the country for many roles within the industry, including writing workshops in Cardiff, make-up workshops in Leeds and dance workshops in London.

Want to do a degree? 

Despite the performing arts careers mentioned in this blog not requiring a degree, there is always an option to get a qualification in your chosen area to boost your skills and knowledge. On our website, we have a  wide range of courses from performing arts schools and universities across the country. Whether you’re looking for a foundation degree, BTEC, Ba or MA, you can see all of the courses listed here. Want to find out more about the training routes you can follow, check out our blog for more information!

Theatre training for all areas of the industry is more available than you may think. It can, however, be hard to know where to look, so if you’re having trouble finding opportunities, we’re here to help!

We've put together a list of ways you can find theatre training across the UK and ways you can discover the amazing opportunities available on our Get Into Theatre website.

What type of training course is right for you?

Before you can start searching, it is important that you know which type of course, institution and training you’re looking for. Knowing the difference between a short course, conservatoire or university course will allow you to narrow down your choices. If you need more information on the types of courses and their accreditations, click here!

Signing up for newsletters

One of the best ways to stay up to date with the latest training programmes, courses and free opportunities offered by organisations is to sign up to receive newsletters. These can be weekly, fortnightly or sometimes monthly and usually contain a round-up of workshops and more. 

Our Get Into Theatre newsletter is sent to our users who have opted to receive information from us and arrived in your inbox on a Friday. Plus they contain further information on ticket offers and other opportunities available.

Stay up to date with social media 

Do you use social media? If so, following arts organisations and theatres is a great way to be kept in the loop about news and opportunities. Turning notifications on can be extremely helpful and will allow you to get updates on training as soon as they are shared.

Here at Get Into Theatre, we regularly post opportunities on our TwitterFacebook and Instagram, along with other theatre and arts careers advice.

Asking directly

If you can’t find the courses or training you’re looking for then don’t panic! Many organisations have a ‘Contact Us’ page on their website providing contact details or a contact form.  Reaching out to a training provider directly allows you to ask any questions you may have. They can point you in the right direction and let you know about workshops or training that they may be able to offer.

Opportunities on Get Into Theatre

This Get Into Theatre website brings together a wide range of theatre training opportunities available for young people across the UK. Our handy search bar and categories can help you determine exactly what you’re looking for. 

Click the links below to be directed to the type of training you’re most interested in.

Theatre Training updates from Get Into Theatre

Be sure to check out our website for the full selection of courses and training available to you. Also, follow us on our social media platforms and sign up to our newsletter for all the latest updates on the best theatre training opportunities available for young people.

Want to share a theatre training course?

Do you manage or work for an institution, organisation or theatre? Perhaps you operate a theatre company creating opportunities for young people? We would love to hear from you, so please get in touch with Get Into Theatre today to list your training on our website for thousands of young people across the nation to discover.

There are many different types of jobs in theatre and knowing where to start in your theatre career search can be difficult. Whether you want to be an actor, work within backstage & technical theatre or in one of the many supporting roles our list is a great starting point to learn what role in theatre would best suit you.

This complete list of careers in theatre is based on large-scale theatres in the UK. For smaller theatres or productions some roles in this list will not be applicable or the roles may be merged together.

Creative team:

Find job descriptions and more theatre careers advice here

Production team:

Find theatre jobs with The Stage Jobs here

Customer service roles:

Search opportunities here

Administration team:

Find theatre vacancies with The Stage Jobs here

Photo: Sim Canetty Clarke

Published: 04 March 2019

Training for a career in theatre is often a really exciting experience - but it can also be daunting, particularly when figuring out how you’re going to pay for it all. Taking into consideration accommodation, materials, travel, and other living expenses, a three-year drama school course can be expensive. So where do you start looking for funding to help train towards a career in theatre and what types of funding are available?

A good place to start looking would be to check out Get Into Theatre’s Funding Opportunities. On this page, you can find a wide range of bursaries, awards, and scholarships for training across on and offstage roles - you can even filter them for targeted opportunities if you’re from a Black, Asian or ethnically diverse background, from a low-income household or identify as D/deaf and/or disabled.

 

Types of training

One of the things to consider is what type of training is best for you. This might be a three-year bachelor’s degree, or a shorter diploma or master’s programme at either a university or a specialist drama school. Other approaches include (but are definitely not limited to) apprenticeships and short-term or part-time programmes, courses, or qualifications. The type of training available might depend on what role you see yourself in - for example, there are technical theatre and stage management apprenticeships, but these are less common for Performers. You can find some of these training opportunities on Get Into Theatre here.

Unsure what area of theatre you’d enjoy? Check out this ‘complete list of jobs in the theatre industry’ for some ideas.

 

Governmental funding and awards

If you’re looking to train here in the UK, the government offers several loan schemes and awards to support training for a career in theatre. For most of these schemes, you must be a UK national (but eligibility may differ if you’re a student from Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Jersey, Guernsey, or the Isle of Man).

Non-governmental funding and awards

Besides government programmes, there are also a number of organisations and charities around the UK offering financial support for theatre training. Here are some examples:

There are regularly new schemes and funding opportunities being created, and you might come across other organisations offering financial support - keep an eye out at your local arts venues and on social media, as organisations will often announce new programmes through these platforms.

 

Personal fundraising

Besides applying for funding from established organisations, you could also consider personal fundraising. This might include working part-time to save some money up or organising crowdfunding on a platform like GoFundMe. In the same vein, you could consider reaching out to friends and family to ask if they would consider pitching in to support your training endeavour.

The best thing you can do is to start thinking about funding as early as possible, once you decide where and how you want to train. Although securing funding for theatre training might be a daunting process, it’ll take one thing off your shoulders once you begin training and allow you to focus on getting the most out of your programme.

 

 

Written by Misha Mah 

Misha Mah is an early-career Production Manager and Producer, with an interest in immersive work and live events. She is a graduate of the University of Birmingham’s BA Drama and Theatre Arts course, and will be commencing on the MA Stage & Production Management programme at the Guildford School of Acting this fall. She is currently the Social Media Manager for The SM NEST, the network for early-career stage managers.

 

Blog image: Shutterstock

Published: 1 December 2021

Creativity and performance skills aren’t vital

When most people think of the professions they can pursue in theatre, jobs such as acting, directing and playwriting come to mind. Advice you can share with your child is that there are many careers in the theatre industry. They themselves don’t need to be a Performer or Creative. Just like in any other sector, there are individuals who work in operational roles like Administrators and Accountants. If your child wants a career that’s closer to the stage, there are many options in theatre production.

Additionally, if your child wants to have a career as a Creative within theatre, you may want to consider encouraging them to have a second, non-creative job. Don’t think of it as a backup plan for failure, but a way of financing a main goal. For instance, I work as a Freelance Administrator in order to pay for my first love, which is playwriting.

See our complete list of jobs in the theatre industry

Support, support, support!

Arts careers are sometimes viewed as less “respectable”. Therefore, the knowledge that your child wants to work in theatre may generate negativity. It’s important to remember that arts jobs require skills, just like corporate jobs do. Speaking as someone whose mother tried to steer her away from a career in the arts, I felt a lot more happy, free and confident once I started exploring playwriting opportunities.

When putting themselves forward for career opportunities in theatre, your child may face rejection. The presence of a person who supports them can make selection processes less stressful. What better cheerleader could a child have than their parent or guardian?

Read the best 10 tips on how to start a career in the theatre industry

Try not to worry about money

Theatre careers may require spending money, especially when it comes to drama school. Fortunately, some institutions offer scholarships and bursaries. Moreover, public bodies like Arts Council England give out funding to Theatremakers who want to develop their skills. Even better, some training opportunities are completely free.

When it comes to careers like playwriting, qualifications aren’t essential. I was lucky enough to be selected for VAULT Festival’s New Writers Programme. I attended sessions geared toward writing a full-length play draft, watched plays and gained excellent experiences for a tiny amount of money.

For technical areas of theatre, your child can gain a qualification through an apprenticeship. Experiences can be collected through paid placements too. Thanks to Get Into Theatre, loads of opportunities are just a click away!

Written by Faye Acheampong 

Faye Acheampong (she/her) is a playwright from London, who took part in VAULT Festival’s New Writers Programme 2021. Her writing explores Black British womanhood in a fantasy-like manner.

 

Published: 21 September 2021

Blog photo: Shutterstock

With many drama schools now into their second year of holding auditions online due to the pandemic, we check in with students from Trinity Laban’s Foundation Course, to talk about top tips for online drama school auditions, self-tapes and online interviews.

Neve Clarke, Amy Mash and Sarah Dickson tell us about what happens during the online audition process, the best techniques for online auditions and what they wish they had done differently to prepare.

 

What was good about your online auditions?

“I felt self-tapes were helpful in being able to see exactly what the panel would see… This helped my confidence in what I was producing.”

“I liked how I could watch my tapes back to analyse how I was acting in my songs, monologues and dance pieces. I found this helpful as I could correct myself.”

Read our tips on how to tackle nerves and anxiety before an audition here

 

What do you wish you had done differently to prepare for your audition?

“Something that I think would be very beneficial is to do a mock online Zoom audition.”

“I felt I could have looked for more Shakespeare monologues so I could have a choice for each school instead of only using the same material for every school.”

“I wish I had done more on live interviews over Zoom. Being in a room I can give off my personality, however it was a lot harder through a computer.”

Find out how to prepare for a drama school audition here

 

Were there any surprises during the audition process?

“Some schools took an extremely long time to get back to me. I waited 10 weeks from one school.”

“I could have connected the computer to a speaker so I could hear the music more clearly in dance auditions.”

Read our blog post about the best advice on getting into drama school for musical theatre training here

 

Do you think there will continue to be online auditions in the future?

“I feel like some schools might have first-round auditions online because it means people do not have to spend money travelling to the schools for auditions. I do however feel it would be better for schools to at least have their second rounds in person.”

What is the best advice for getting into drama school as an Actor? Find out more here

 

What are your top tips for online auditions?

“I would definitely make sure you set up your camera correctly. I would make sure that you use natural lighting when filming. But mostly I would say if you have an interview, you have to show so much more personality and enthusiasm because it is harder to convey through a camera.”

“Do not try and get the perfect take on your self-tape - you will drive yourself insane. Just keep trying your best. Watch your tapes back and decide what parts you need to focus on.”

Read our top 10 tips on how to self-tape and audition online here

 

Photo: Shutterstock

Published: 06 May 2021

 

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