Do you have a passion for the stage and a love of directing, producing or acting? If so, a performing arts degree could be the right choice for you. Students of the performing arts explore all aspects of theatre production, such as stagecraft, prop construction, acting, playwriting and costume design, just to name a few. There are exciting job opportunities available for theatre majors to pursue. However, it’s also worth noting that this degree instills transferrable skills that are desirable in virtually every industry including communication, critical thinking and collaboration.
Many performing arts students dream of becoming a professional actor. Successful performers are patient and persistent, with a strong work ethic and high level of training. There are a few different types of acting positions, including stage acting. While you’re trying to land a role in a theatre production, you might consider these other possibilities:
Commonly referred to as an “extra,” background actors often do not have lines in movies or TV shows. The easiest way to land a role as an extra is to contact and sign up with an extra casting agency. Two notable actors who started out as extras include Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Sean Penn and Sylvester Stallone.
These actors fill roles in TV commercials, where the goal is to sell products or services. When a commercial becomes a hit, there’s potential for an actor to become a star in their own right. One example of this is the ubiquitous, insurance-toting character Flo. Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio are well-known actors who started out with commercials.
If you have a strong command of your voice, consider pursuing a career as a voice actor. These professionals provide the voices for animated characters. Some voice actors also provide the narration for audiobooks, documentaries and even video games.
One perk of earning a performing arts degree is that you don’t have to limit yourself to just one type of production. Even if your main interest is theatre, you might also find acting jobs in TV, movies, video games or online content.
Theatre directors hold one of the most important jobs on a theatrical production. They are responsible for the creative interpretation of a play. In other words, they bring the playwright’s vision to life by working with the actors to create the best possible performances. Directors collaborate with other professionals regarding costumes, set design and lighting.
Playwrights are highly creative individuals who develop the concept of a new play and write it. While writing a play, it’s essential to be mindful of how it will be performed. Playwrights must keep in mind the traditions and exciting challenges of live performance when writing.
Usually, playwrights are freelancers. They may send copies of their play to theatre companies in hopes that one will decide to perform it. As they begin to make a name for themselves, playwrights may then be hired on a contract basis by the theatre company to write new plays.
Other jobs for theatre majors include the stage manager. Next to the director, the stage manager holds one of the busiest jobs in a theatrical production. Stage managers are responsible for overseeing the daily operations of the production. For example, they may do any of the following:
- Schedule and plan rehearsals
- Arrange costume fittings
- Oversee the budget
- Update the script
- Maintain props
- Call cues during the show
In short, stage managers need to know about all aspects of a theatrical production in order to be successful at their job.
If you have a love of fashion as well as the performing arts, consider pursuing a career as a costume designer. Costume designers work on movies and TV shows as well as theatrical productions, commercials, online content, festivals and cruise ships. Their job often requires research, as they must consider the fashions of the time period in which the production takes place.
Typically, costume designers begin by producing rough sketches of the clothing, jewelry, hats and footwear, taking into consideration both style and fabric. Once the initial designs are approved, the designers produce full color versions, which are sent to costume makers. Designers are also responsible for creating a “costume plot,” which is a document that specifies each item of clothing a particular character will wear in each scene.
A dramaturg serves as a researcher and consultant. Theatrical companies hire dramaturgs to analyze the story of a play and research its historical context. Dramaturgs will also consider how past theatrical productions envisioned the play. The insights provided by a dramaturg enable the director and actors to bring the production to life in a way that is faithful to the playwright’s intentions and the historical context of the play.
You can pursue your love of drama and theatre by earning your performing arts degree at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. The College of Fine Arts and Production is pleased to offer the Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Drama for students wishing to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. Click the Request Info button on this page to explore how you can join our dynamic learning community.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.