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Career Advice

Starting a Career in the Theatre

From acting, performing, directing, writing, devising or any number of separate artistic areas, there are many exciting paths to follow as a career in the theatre arts. Some areas require a specific talent or academic qualification but often hard work and enthusiasm are just as important to succeed in this dynamic, rewarding but extremely competitive environment.

Acting

Actors use expression, movement and speech to bring a character to life from the page. With diverse opportunities across film, television, theatre and radio, acting is the perfect outlet for those who want to use their creativity and talent. Actors need a good memory to be adaptable, versatile and acceptable to feedback and direction.

As high as 87% of professional actors have received some kind of formal training (The National Careers Service, 2012) and with this in mind a course at either an accredited drama school or university is extremely advised for those wishing to join the profession.

As a career, acting can be highly demanding but ultimately extremely rewarding. Working hours are often long and at theatre2unsociable times, with rehearsals and meetings taking place during the day. Performances can be based in a single venue, such as a London or regional theatre, or you can also be booked for a sometimes long exhaustive tour. This can either be in this country or abroad. Income from acting is notoriously sporadic, with up to 92% of the industry unemployed at any one time (The Guardian, 2009).

Directing

For those with imagination, and the ability to inspire others, directing, whether for theatre, film or television can, like acting, be an extremely rewarding career choice.

With overall responsibility for the look, tone and presentation of the performed work, directors must use their technical knowledge, organisational and leadership skills together with their creativity to ensure the smooth running of the entire production process. With this is mind, those thinking of contemplating a career as a director are strongly encouraged to embark on a formal training course, either in higher education, such as Richmond University, or at another recognised education centre.

With the job of director requiring you to lead a company of professionals with very differing skills and responsibilities, strong communication skills are an absolute necessity. Directors are also expected to be exemplary planners and organisers, be good at making tough decisions managing their time and keeping to an agreed budget.

Writing

Writers within the dramatic form, whether they be screenwriters or playwrights, are there to create ideas and bring exciting, writing lettercompelling stories to life. As a writer it’s possible you may be developing original ideas from scratch or at the behest of a producer. You may be adapting a book, someone’s compelling, real life story or finding inspiration in the news, current affairs or a historical event.

While there is no doubt there are alternative routes into the industry than education, and there are plenty of successful examples of this even at the highest levels, and that the most important tool a writer has is imagination, which obviously cannot be ‘taught’, aspiring dramatists can greatly benefit from learning theories in dramatic structure, either at university or at an approved drama school that offers a course of this nature.

 

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