This is my Senior Paper. Ignore the weird formating. The blog messes it up.
The hopes and dreams of so many young persons are shattered when they emerge from college with a degree in theatre and they are unable to find any form of acting role. Little do these people know that there are many factors involved in grasping an acting job. A big one is luck, but another is experience. Experience can be gained in many ways, most of which don’t require the individual to do any acting at all. There are many careers in theatre besides acting that can help one get a leg up on the competition and gain the necessary experience to break into the theatre world.
Careers inside the theatre industry are immense. There is no need to struggle through life on a low income and job security that is as good as thin ice. Directors, Stage Managers, Sound and Light Technicians, Box Office Employees, and Set Designers are just a few of the exciting careers waiting in the theatre industry. These careers offer a safer foundation than an acting career. Looking into these careers is often a great decision.
In the world of theatre, there are hundreds of career options. These careers have job security, unlike acting. Young aspiring actors often find the need for a more stable job necessary. “In a month I had to get a real job, so I became a fragrance model at Macy’s.”(Langel, 12) Most do not know how to use a theatre degree once they realize acting is a hard life. Making use of a theatre degree is not as hard as it seems. It is as simple as picking a career in theatre that will give that person the ability to live an enjoyable life.
Management or office careers in theatre are often some of the most stable. With a background in things such as sales, business, and customer service an individual could find a job easily. Working in the Box Office could be a wonderful experience for any theatre lover. The Box Office consists mainly of two or three individuals, The Box Office Manager and Employee(s). The Box Office Manager has one primary objective, to oversee the sale of all tickets for all theatre events. A Box Office Manager is also accountable for maintaining good public relations with patrons, preparing tickets in advance to sell, and making all routine decisions for the Box Office itself. These decisions include; the over sale of tickets, possible cancellation of shows due to low revenue, dismissal of employees of the Box Office, and removal of unruly audience members(Box).
Co-working with the Box Office Manager would be one or two employees. Those who feel the role of a manager is over demanding and are more geared to follow than to lead will find working in the Box Office a very pleasant experience. Employees serve many purposes such as: assisting with the management of an efficient box office operation for all performances, exercising independent judgment and initiative, assisting the Box Office Manager with coordination of all box office activities including sales, and supervising students and temporary employees during the most busy time of year for the theatre. Like the Box office manager, the employees will be required to have a fair amount of people skills. The average actor would be able to perform such a task mainly due to the fact that they have natural speaking skills. Although working in the Box Office is not the only offer of an office style job(Job).
With a strong acting background the position of an Executive Director could be a perfect fit. Like the Box Office Manager, the Executive Director would find most of his time spent on office work and social calls. “The role of an Executive Director is to keep the theatre running. Without good finance, a theatre could go under in a heartbeat”(Johnson). Along with a knowledge of theatre, knowing how to finance and spend money properly, it could be easy becoming a successful Executive Director. An Executive Director is in charge of organizing theatre business, coordinating any fundraising, participating in selecting the plays that should be performed in the next season, and overseeing all theatre business.(Johnson) “Executive Directors make the decisions that affect the future of a theatre. If the Executive director fails to choose a decent season, or play, what will happen to the theatre the next time around?”(Johnson)
The socials aspects of an Executive Director are immense. “The Executive Director has to make nice with all sorts of people; actors, directors, businesses, and patrons”(Johnson). As Executive Directors, individuals are expected to have excellent speaking and conversation abilities. For this reason those with degrees in theatre have a special knack for such a job. They find it easy to converse with future partners and find raising money easy. “I personally feel as if my job as an Executive Director is making decisions that help the others around me make even better decisions.”(Johnson) Management jobs come in all shapes and sizes in theatre. Some are more office oriented while others are more “creative”.
“The Artistic Director of a theatre company is the individual with the ultimate artistic control of the theatre’s production choices, directorial choices, and overall artistic vision.” (Artistic) The more artistic and creative theatre person may find the career of the Artistic Director challenging and exciting. As actors, those who use their theatre degrees to advance to the position of Artistic Director find the change small. The creative aspect of the Artistic Directors job allows the former actor to enjoy theatre in the same creative way. Duties of the Artistic Director include: planning the artistic program of the theatre, reading scripts and selects which are to be played at the theatre, conducting and supervising research, keeping an up to date with what is happening in the arts, appointing designers, directors, actors, and technical staff for new productions, discussing the production with the director and production crew, taking part in discussions on lights, sound and design, helping plan budgets, helping plan how to market productions, and in cases directing and casting shows.(Artistic) The Artistic Director truly combines all aspects of theatre. Any theatre lover could find a healthy living with a job such as this.
A theatre producer decides what the production will be, arranges the finance for it, and assembles a creative team. This will include a director, a cast of performers, technicians and administrative staff. “I could not make it as an actor. I struggled for years. The day I turned 39 I quit acting professionally, instead I became the thing I hated most in life, a producer“(Langel, 76). If chosen, the career of a producer is a tough one. Actors and technicians alike often find producers the evil of the theatre world. The producer must make all final budget decisions for a show. If the show has a terrible producer the show will fail, not because it is bad, but because the producer is bad at budgeting. If an actor has any training in business or finance, producing is a smart choice as a career. Producers can find themselves supporting the production, liaising with everyone involved in the production, finding solutions to problems that occur along the way, controlling budget, and making sure that the company works well as a team(Prospects). Actors may also feel a great joy in becoming a producer. They are often turned away by producers for money reasons; now having this new sense of power, they hold the lives of all actors in their hands.
Designers and technicians of all kinds have found a great living designing for theatres around the world. Those who wish to enter the exciting world of tech theatre must also obtain a technical theatre degree. Receiving a side along degree in lighting or costuming with an acting degree is always a smart choice. The many different careers in technical theatre are numerous and jobs are always readily available.
Light design is a challenging career for anyone and everyone. If adventure lingers in the bones of any technical career-seeking individual, then this is the career for them. The lighting designer is responsible for the creation of the lighting design for a given production. Working in connection with the artistic staff and production personnel, the lighting designer becomes part of a collaborative team. This teams is led by the director and strives to create a unified production product. If the power of the “lime lights” is not written in the stars, then the allure of the greasepaint may be a perfect substitute.
With a desire to make the cast look good, makeup artist find that their role in a performance is a key element to a successful production. Make-up artists prepare hair and make-up for actors performing in front of a live audience. As a make-up artist, one would create anything from a natural look for a presenter, to complex period make-up and wigs or special effects make-up. Along with designing make-up, hair can be designated to the make-up artist or the hair designer.(Hair) Also make-up artists can choose the number of others they work around. They could work alone, or as an assistant to a more senior colleague or as part of a make-up design team.
Scenic design is another fantastic technical career that offers creativity and great stability. A theatrical scenic designer is much like a conventional architect. As the architect of scenery, the scenic designer often provides the conceptual foundation upon which all other designers will build. “The theatre allows designers to tweak reality into a more artistic and abstract environment”(Morgan). Throughout the build process, the designer will usually be available to the technicians and artisans creating the scenery in order to assist, troubleshoot potential design problems, and answer questions that may not be clear on paper(Architects). The importance of a set designer to a play or musical is paramount. From minimal productions, like grade school plays, to multimillion-dollar Broadway shows, the set is a silent supporting actor. Moods, meaning , and media are all affected by the set design. Good set designers have an artistic ability that can translate into many other professions including, painters, sculptors, carpenters, and florists. The skill needed to build entire worlds in a limited space come in handy if a set designer wished to pursue similar-but technically more demanding-careers as architects and even city planners. Being in the theatre profession, set designers can also make the transition to stage manager or director(Set). Scenic design is a theatrical career in high demand. The intense training that coincides pushes away many seekers. Those lucky enough to have the time and willpower will find scenic design fulfilling and fun.
What about those that dress the sets and give the actor the vase on stage? “Props is the area of theatre that I believe-more than any other-crosses over, or is affected by, the other areas of theatre”(Guy). Prop mastery is an art and those creative enough can flourish in this exciting career. “Set decoration can and should be really rich and detail-oriented. It can be a major contributor to the effect that the play has”(Guy). The property master is responsible for purchasing or acquiring all the props used during production. Once the show has opened, the props master will be responsible for staying in contact with the stage manager in order to maintain or fix props as needed. “Will the armoire fit through this door for the scene shift? Is the top of this coffee table to reflective? Does this have to be a battery-operated lamp on this desk? Does the sword goof up the hang of the coat? Is the gun to big or too heavy to put into a pocket? We go everyplace”(Guy). After the show has closed, the props master is required to be a strike in order to assist in the removal and storage of the props from the theatre. Once the props are properly stored, with the supervisor’s approval, the props master may leave strike.
The average actor earns $15,320 a year if that. With over 139,000 individuals belonging to AEA, Actors Equity Association, the probability of finding work in the United States is slim. Only nine percent of these actors carry a job at any giving time. Compared to the average income of the careers stated earlier of around $25,000 and up making the transition from acting to another theatre career seems well worth the effort(Actor).“ I was on my way to becoming an actress, then it was over. I failed more than once. I soon started wondering what I could do with my life. I had a degree in acting, I could do nothing else” (Langel,37). Most struggling actors would agree that obtaining a second degree in any field is often a smart decision. Those actors with a degree in some other field of theatre often make two to five times more than an actor who specializes just in performing.(Actor)
The careers in theatre are virtually endless. Getting out and finding a career that pays well and gives stability is not a hard thing. The percent of actors waiting to be discovered and those who have been so, are quite small. There are many options when choosing a theatre career; besides the allure of the lime light, try the allure of the person who make theatre happen.