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.
Photo: Sim Canetty Clarke
Get Into Theatre gives young people thousands of training, experience and funding opportunities from colleges, universities, drama schools, theatres and arts organisations all over the UK. These opportunities are for everyone no matter what gender you are, ethnicity, background or ability/disability.
Find training, experience and funding opportunities for those with disabilities here.
Access is a basic right and requirement that is constantly changing and improving the theatre industry and allows it to grow. Accessibility enables theatre practitioners (someone who creates theatre performances) and audiences to create, engage and enjoy. Find out more about Access to Work here. LINK
There are so many opportunities available, both on and offstage for people with disabilities, the problem is that young people don’t know where to find them. Not only that but they don’t know where/who you can turn to for support. We want to ensure that you have the knowledge and information that you need to pursue a career within the theatre industry so we have done the research for you. We have listed a number of amazing organisations that can help teach you, advise you and support you as you begin your dream career.
RNIB is one of the UK’s leading sight loss charities and the largest community of blind and partially sighted people. They offer help and support for blind and partially sighted people and this can be anything from practical and emotional support, campaigning for change and reading services.
This organisation aims to increase opportunities for blind and partially sighted people to experience and enjoy the arts and make them aware of the opportunities available to them.
See their opportunities here.
Action Hearing Loss is the largest charity for people with hearing loss in the UK. They support and help you from day-to-day care, to practical information, to campaigning for a fairer world for people with hearing loss, and funding research to find a cure.
This organisation supports and promotes BSL access to the arts in the UK.
Graeae is a theatre company who produce theatre productions and also deliver training programmes and opportunities for aspiring and already established Actors, Directors and Writers. Graeae also provide bespoke access solutions such as:
See Graeae’s opportunities here.
Mind the Gap is one of Europe’s leading learning disability theatre companies that creates work for the UK and international audiences. Their vision is to work in an arts sector where there is equal opportunity for performers with learning disabilities. They work in partnership with learning disabled artists to deliver a bold, cutting-edge and world-class artistic programme that makes an impact.
Mind the Gap offers several training courses for adults with a learning disability to kick-start their career in performing arts which you can find here. LINK
Disability Arts is an organisation led by disabled people and created to improve and support disability arts and culture. Disability Arts understand that being an artist can be difficult and even more so for disabled artists and this platform gives them a platform to blog, and share thoughts, images, projects and general daily things to be creative with other like-minded people. They also respond to email requests for information and advice.
National Disability Theatre employs professional theatre artists who create fully accessible, world-class theatre and storytelling; change social policy and the nation’s narrative about disability culture.
Unlimited is an arts commissioning programme - run by Shape Arts and Artsadmin - that enables new work by disabled artists to reach the UK and international audiences. They are the largest supporter of disabled artists worldwide.
Shape Arts is a disability-led arts organisation which works to improve access to culture for disabled people by:
They also provide access auditing and training services to arts organisations and delivering consultancy which works towards the improvement of cultural services for all disabled people.
Artsadmin is a producing and presenting organisation for contemporary artists working in theatre, dance, live art, visual arts and mixed media.
Access in London is an informative guide for disabled people such as wheelchair users and those with limited walking ability and for whom stairs may be a challenge. It was created from information collected by visits, and reflects the experiences of disabled people. The guide combines information about where to stay, how to get around and the easiest ways of accessing the main places of interest with maps which include artwork. You can download the guide from the link above.
Training, mentoring, lectures and workshops in acting and performance for those with dyslexia.
See their opportunities here.
Accentuate is a national programme which works in partnership with others to create groundbreaking projects which support and promote the talents of deaf and disabled people in the cultural sector.
Disability Rights UK are a Party Parliamentary Group for Disability. They are the leading charity of its kind in the UK and are run by and for people with lived experience of disability or health conditions. They work to influence national policy on independent living, benefits, education, employment, transport, human rights and other issues.
The Act for Change Project is a registered charity. They campaign for better representation across the live and recorded arts. They aim to strengthen diversity and let people from underrepresented audiences know that a future exists with them firmly featured in it.
BAPAM is a healthcare charity giving medical advice to people working and studying in the performing arts.
BECS is the UK’s only collective management organisation for audio visual performers.
CDMT provides quality assurance for the professional dance, drama and musical theatre industries. It is the first point of contact for those seeking information on education, training and assessment in the UK.
DCD is a registered charity and the only organisation of its kind in the UK to support Dancers to have a successful transition to alternative careers after retiring from professional performance.
See DCD opportunities here.
Equity are a union of Performers and creative practitioners who fight for fair terms and conditions in the workplace.
If you’re a professional Performer who wants to train for a new career, or who is facing financial difficulties, then ECT will help you.
FEU provides training, information, advice, guidance and skills development opportunities to support your freelance career in the creative industries.
One Dance UK is the sector support organisation leading the way for a stronger, more vibrant and diverse dance sector. They advocate for the increased profile and importance of dance in all its diverse forms and settings as well as enhancing Dancers’ health, well-being and performance and identifying gaps, providing opportunities and improve conditions for dance to be learnt, discussed and seen.
VLEC ensures the good order and practice of the variety and light entertainment industry, to ensure that the appropriate contract is used for every engagement and to resolve disputes, formally and informally.
Published: 3 January 2020
A Sound Designer in theatre is responsible for creating all sound and audio for a production. Depending on the requirements of the show, this can include sound effects, music, building atmosphere and how the performers are heard.
The Sound Designer will initially work with the Director and the creative team to ensure that sound supports and enhances the production’s storytelling. The sound design may represent everything from specific noises created by actions on stage, sounds that convey the show’s setting and time, and music and soundscapes that build atmosphere, mood and the characters’ emotions. They will also consider the quality and clarity of speech and singing through performers’ microphones and audio levels.
Search for opportunities using The Stage Jobs here.
There are some courses, qualifications and degrees that specialise in sound design for theatre, and more that focus on sound more generally, including audio production music technology.
Sound Designers are often self employed and work on short-term contracts for each production, but some Sound Designers can be employed by specific theatres.
Networking and building good relationships is important, as that may lead to future work.
Find out about being a freelancer in theatre here.
Salaries and fees can vary depending on the scale of the production and/or size of the theatre. An entry level Sound Designer salary is around £18,000 per year. A Sound Designer with more than five years’ experience may earn an average of £23,000. Experienced Sound Designers could make between £30,000 and £41,000.
Find all careers advice here.
Published: 24 February 2022
Do you want to find out more about offstage jobs? Are you looking for your first or next step in your theatre career? With the huge number of offstage job roles available, it can be difficult to know where to start. Luckily, TheatreCraft is here to help!
TheatreCraft is the UK’s largest free theatre careers event. The event is open to anyone aged 16 to 30 with an interest in offstage theatre jobs. Attendees can take part in sessions on producing, writing, directing, marketing, technical theatre, armoury, scenic art, costume and more. Plus, attend a marketplace where you can chat with a host of leading theatre organisations… all for free.
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Photo: James Boyer Smith
Make sure you sign up to TheatreCraft’s monthly newsletter, containing offstage theatre opportunities, training open days and exclusive ticket offers.
TheatreCraft also have a News and Opportunities section on their website, where you can read about past events and get an insight into organisations such as the Royal Opera House and Opera Holland Park.
Photo: Liza Heinrichs
If you’re interested in learning more about offstage theatre careers, check out these blog posts on Get Into Theatre:
Blog header photo: James Boyer Smith
Published: 15 November 2021
Maybe you’ve had a look at a range of different roles on a theatre production team, and you’ve got your sights set on one - but how do you land a job on a theatre production team?
If you’re unsure what type of role you’d enjoy, check out the Production Team section of Get Into Theatre’s Complete list of jobs in the theatre industry! Company Manager Antonia Collins advises that even if you have your sights set on a particular role, "don’t be afraid to try other roles". For example, taking on a Followspot Operator role even if you aspire to be a Deputy Stage Manager will help hone your transferable skills and build your network and relationship with the team you end up working with at the venue.
The first place to start is to look for current opportunities and vacancies in the industry. Like any other industry, there are a couple of key places to check out, where employers (often Producers, Production Managers or Company Managers) will share roles they’re looking to fill on a production team. These include association and union job boards (including Equity UK, the Stage Management Association (SMA), the Association for British Theatre Technicians (ABTT), and more - check out AAPTLE), or websites like Mandy. However, many of these job boards are behind paywalls (meaning you’ll need to be a member of the union/association in order to access it), which may not be particularly accessible if you’re just starting out.
Other free places to look include:
Antonia stresses the importance of networking, particularly in expanding your own personal reach and getting to know professionals currently working in the industry and projects in production. This can be as simple as saying hello to someone by shooting them an email for a coffee or popping along to a social event hosted by an association. A lot of people working in theatre are extremely friendly and are willing to give up a bit of their time to chat to someone starting out.
The next step after setting your sights on a job is to go ahead and apply! Most opportunities will request a CV (or ‘curriculum vitae’), a cover letter, and sometimes a portfolio. Portfolios tend to be requested when putting yourself forward for design-based roles - check out Get Into Theatre’s tips for lighting, set, and costume portfolios.
If the employer likes the look of your CV and cover letter, you might be invited to meet for an interview. You might be asked questions about your past experience and why you’re interested in this particular role, project and company. Always do a bit of preparation and research in advance; Antonia recommends having some answers prepared based on the nature of the role. For example, if you’re interviewing to be an Assistant Stage Manager, you’re likely to be asked about props.
Company Stage Manager Ali Wade notes that interviews really depend on the role you’re applying for. For example, if you’re looking for a role as an Automation Technician, the person interviewing you might be less worried about your people skills than your capability to fix complex broken things. However, “a sense of humour never goes amiss”, and it’s important that you’re positive and enthusiastic.
Don’t be disheartened if a rejection lands in your inbox - you just might not have been the right fit for the team or company! Ali’s main advice is “don’t try to run before you can walk. Don’t be disappointed if you get rejected for a position on a big, commercial musical - the idea is to start smaller, build skills and confidence and work your way up to the bigger productions - you will probably be a better Stage Manager for it.”
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.
Company Manager Antonia Collins
Company Stage Manager Ali Wade
Published: 6 October 2021
Blog photo: Alex Brenner
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.
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?
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
An Assistant Director position gives you the opportunity to both learn about the production process generally and the work of the overall Director. This means after a while of assisting a Director, you could eventually work towards becoming the Director.
While you do not need a degree for this role, here are some useful subjects and courses that you can study to gain knowledge and experience.
These are the desirable skills to have to be a candidate for an Assistant Director role:
There’s not a one-way path to become an Assistant Director, however having previous experience of producing, directing and creating new work is ideal.
Pay for an Artistic Director can range between £12k - £30k depending on the theatre and your personal experience.
Published: 02 July 2021
Adam Penford is the Director of the Royal Derngate production of Holes. Find out what it takes to be a Director and how to get there in the theatre industry.
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Interviewer: Hello, I'm Oscar I'm a Royal & Derngate Arts Leader and I'm with Adam, who is the Director of Holes here at Royal & Derngate theatre. So first question that I've got for you is can you explain your job in one sentence?
Adam: That's really hard in one sentence. A Director's job is to pull together all the different elements as a production and make them cohesive.
Interviewer: What is your favourite part about being a Director?
Adam: Bossing people around. Not really, Oscar. I like producing exciting theatre that I think an audience are going to find funny and entertaining and thought-provoking.
Interviewer: What's the hardest part about being a Director?
Adam: The hardest point part is sometimes you have to say no to people. So if you're auditioning Actors you have to say no more than you get say yes and that's the same with Designers and Lighting Designers and Composers and all other creative team members.
Interviewer: What advice would you give a young person that wants to get into this industry that direct theatre?
Adam: I think expose yourself to theatre as much as you possibly can. So, read plays and watch plays, join a youth theatre. Just get stuck in, because the more experience you have, the more you're going to learn.
Interviewer: How did you become a Director?
Adam: So, I actually started as an Actor, which is what quite a lot of theatre Directors do. Decided I was rubbish at it and I didn't like people looking at me. That was a bit awkward. So then I thought what else I could do and I started directing and I worked my way up from being an Assistant Director and I became an Associate Director, a Resident Director, a Revival Director and then I became the Director Director.
Interviewer: So did you have any kind of specific training or did you just kind of get in with different companies and then work there?
Adam: So, when I was starting out there weren't really Directors training courses, although there are some now. So you sort of got into it a bit more by training as an Actor and then you start to understand the kind of techniques of acting and then you'd put that into play as a Director. The best way to learn at that time was by being an Assistant Director, watching how other people do it and then you pick the best bits of what they did, left out the
rubbish bits and then formed your own way of working.
Interviewer: Why theatre? Why not TV or film or radio? Why theatre?
Adam: Well it's not for the money because you get paid more directing TV or film. I think there's just something a bit more exciting about it being live. The idea you sit there in the audience and you get a live response from the audience and if something's working then you get laughter or tears or massive applause. If something's not working you get yawns and the seats flipping up as people exit. So you know immediately whether you're doing your job well and then it sets a challenge as to how you can improve the show the following night.
Published: 27 March 2020
Image: Alex Brenner
Take a tour backstage at the Royal & Derngate theatre and see how they create the set and what goes on behind the scenes of a theatre production.
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Hello, I'm Oscar. I'm a Royal & Derngate Arts Leader. Today I'll be taking you around Royal & Derngate Theatre and the Northampton Filmhouse on a quick behind-the-scenes tour. I have to be a bit quiet because they're currently doing a tech rehearsal for Holes, which is in here now.
So, this is the Circle level and then you also have the Gods upstairs and then the Stalls which is downstairs. Originally, there was two boxes on either side of the Circle. They're actually probably seen to be the worst seats in the house but the rich people would want to sit there because they could be seen by everyone.
This is currently the Wings for Holes. I'll just take you through. It's quite noisy in here so I'll have to be a bit louder. So, this is workshop for the Royal Auditorium. This is where we make all of our Made In Northampton shows. They're currently building the set for Alone In Berlin, that's going to go into the Royal in a couple of weeks. I'll walk us through and then I'll take us to the paint shop. If you want to follow me.
So, this is the paint room for the Royal. So this is where they paint all of the sets that have just been built from downstairs. It's quite a large room because they need enough room to build all of the tall sets, then get it back down into the Royal ready for the shows.
Published: 27 March 2020
Image: Alex Brenner
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Interviewers: Hi, I'm Martin and I'm Megan and we're here with...
Kat: Kat, I'm the DSM Deputy Stage Manager on Holes. The production in the Royal & Derngate.
Interviewer: So would you describe your job in one sentence for me Kat?
Kat: It's quite a long sentence. So during rehearsals I document everything that's happening and where everything is and where everybody is meant to be on and offstage. I remind the Actors of their lines and then during shows I tell the light, sound, flies, stage crew, anybody else when to do their cues.
Interviewer: What path did you take to working in stage management?
Kat: So I was really interested in theatre growing up and joined youth theatres and things. Then I went to university and studied performance studies and then I ended up working here at the Royal & Derngate while I was at university in front of house and on box office and I heard they needed someone to chaperone children on shows. So I said 'okay I'll give that a go' and I was interested in backstage stuff a little bit but I didn't know a huge amount of it and I'd actually never heard of stage management. So while I was doing that I spoke to the Stage Manager and she kind of said 'what are you interested in?' and I said 'I'm not really sure', she said 'do some work experience with us' and I did and I loved it. So then I went to the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and did an MA master's in stage management.
Interviewer: Is there a best thing or a favourite thing that you love or a favourite aspect of your job?
Kat: I guess the variety. There's no two productions that are the same, no two groups of people the same. Even within the show, no two days are the same and so I really love that. Because I work freelance so I work all over the country. I really like that variety and also just constantly learning new things and about new things, yeah the variety.
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So, this is my prompt copy which is the show's Bible, which is a script of the show. Then it has all cues in it, which at the moment because we're in technical rehearsals and they will move they're all on post-it notes, so that I can move them around. We also write down the blocking, so write down what everyone's doing at every point in the show.
So I will wear a headset in the show so I can speak to everybody, but also sometimes use cue lights. So for this, I have one for the Flies in case their headsets go down. So I would do that to tell them to stand by and then that to tell them to do their cue. I've got a microphone here to do announcements to back of house or to tell Actors to come to the stage or what we're up to.
Then up here I have a couple of screens because I can't always from where I'm sitting see everything that I need to do to cue. So I've got the monitor to get more of a front on view. Then this one is infrared. So if we go to blackout and I need to for instance wait for the Actors to be clear to bring the lights back up again. I can see when that is because I can see them on the infrared.
On this show, I'm actually operating the sound. This is my go button. So when I want a sound cue to start I press the Go button. This is the list of the sound cues. So that will be a list so I can see which sound cues are coming up so I can make sure I'm ready for the right one.
Published: 27 March 2020
Image: Alex Brenner