Selecting a career in the theatre world can be an exciting and sometimes daunting task. There are so many ways that the world can benefit from your love of drama! And that’s exactly why we’ve put together a comprehensive theatre careers list for your convenience.
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An actor or an actress portrays a character in any given performance. They often double or triple as singers and dancers as well, hence the terms double or triple threat.
Background dancers bring life and energy to a performance through physical motion and dance. They often dance alongside or behind the lead performers of any given musical.
The theatrical carpenter builds stage sets and elements under the supervision of or cooperation with the technical director and/or set designer. This position requires extensive knowledge of woodworking, welding, and general construction skills.
The charge artist interprets the set designer’s illustrations and replicates the textures of the real world through paint. This artist works closely together with the designer to decide on an action plan for materials, labor, and moving forward with the project.
The choreographer (or literally “dance writer” from the original Greek) designs the movement of bodies during dance numbers. This career is perfect for mature dancers who are looking for creative freedom, or those who don’t necessarily thrive in the limelight.
Composers often work alone or in a partnership to create the music for musicals, while the lyricist writes the lyrics to accompany the score. Sometimes musicians will work as both composers and lyricists, while other times they might write either the music or the lyrics for a particular show. They usually play the piano and sometimes additional instruments.
The conductor or musical director leads the musical ensemble, analyzes the musical score, and shapes the phrasing of the music. This is done through careful communication with the musicians, singers, and/or orchestra.
Costume designers design and sometimes create the costumes for any given show. This position requires a close collaboration with the director and designers.
The director artistically creates, oversees, and directs the entirety of the performance. This role requires a heavy collaboration with the designers, actors, and at times, the playwright. Interpersonal skills are a must.
The drama teacher is responsible for teaching various theatrical subjects and bringing out the best in students. Many schools have their own drama department and hire long-term teachers to fill this position.
The drama therapist makes use of theatrical exercises and techniques to help in the promotion of mental health. This type of therapy can take place in schools, homes, hospitals, businesses, and prisons.
Dramaturgs are responsible for the researching and interpretation of scripts. Further responsibilities include looking at the social context in which each play is being performed and creating workbooks to help the cast form a better understanding of the play. The exact responsibilities of the dramaturg often vary depending on the theatre.
The dresser helps the cast members to get in and out of costumes during later rehearsals and performances. They are responsible for keeping an eye on all garments and accessories to ensure they are in perfect condition at all times.
The theatre electrician or technical manager oversees the electrical work, lighting, and special theatrical effects. They are responsible for the extremely technical aspects of the stage and theatre.
Front of House/House Manager
The house manager has a range of responsibilities. They can be in charge of anything from ticket sales and concessions, to making sure the house is in tip-top shape. A passion for outstanding customer service is a must.
As a theatre journalist, you can be anything you want to be! You could work for a theatrical blog or news source. You could even start your own theatrical journalism endeavor from scratch. The world is your oyster!
The theatrical lighting designer is responsible for creating a lighting plan directly in response to the play’s script and director’s vision. This position requires strong communication skills and focused work when it comes to studying up on the script and implementing the design.
The literary manager reads scripts and selects the ones that are most fitting for production at a particular theatre or event. They often work directly with playwrights to help develop new works.
The makeup artist is in charge of executing the plans of the makeup designer. The two work closely together to successfully realize each character’s look through the application of makeup and cosmetics.
The performance coach is there to help performers reach their full potential when it comes to acting, singing, and dancing. There are both physical performance coaches and digital performance coaches, along with those who specialize in specific types of texts, playwrights, and dramatic periods.
Simply put, the playwright writes plays. The playwright may choose to produce their own work, or they may choose to release the rights to outside theatres and companies. Similarly, a librettist or a book writer is the one who writes or adjusts the text for musicals or operas.
The theatre producer is responsible for all aspects of a theatre production. This often includes overseeing the financial, managerial, and personnel-related aspects of any given show.
Drama professors have an integral role in the theatre community. Not only are they responsible for imparting knowledge to students, they are responsible for inspiring and “lighting the fire” within them.
The props master (or property master) generally selects, purchases, and creates of all of the props used in a theatrical production. In this role, it is necessary to collaborate with other key players, such as the director and designers.
The Production Manager is responsible for the financial aspects of putting on a show. They wear many hats and handle areas such as budget creation, fund allocation, and staffing coordination.
The scenic artist is in charge of the hands-on artistry that goes into the literal creation of the artistic elements in the set. They generally work under the supervision of the set designer. For this position, fine art skills are a must!
The set designer is responsible for more of the abstract thinking and planning involved with designing a set. Artistic skills are necessary in order to be able to properly convey ideas to the director and other designers.
The sound designer works with all things related to technically-produced sound, music, and/or sound effects. A technical skill-set is required, and a musical inclination is a huge plus. The sound designer is also often responsible for training the soundboard operator.
The stage manager is the juggler of all theatrical balls, often in charge of rehearsal planning, the documentation of blocking, building cast relationships, and all things organizational. The stage manager is basically responsible for a smooth-sailing production.
Stagehands are the primary workforce of behind-the-scenes magic. The responsibilities differ from performance to performance. They are quite literally the extra hands needed for anything from setting up scenery to pulling off believable special effects.
The technical director supervises and oversees the execution of all technical elements of a show. They are also often in charge of establishing budgets and working together with the prop master, master electrician, and other crew leads.
Administrative jobs in the theatre vary greatly and include positions such as director of special events, marketing, public relations, audience services, and director of development.
The theatre critic holds a position of power and controversy. They are responsible for accurately and fairly commenting on each performance, while providing a critical analysis of the show’s elements. The critic is an essential mediator between the public and the stage.
This is one of the more easygoing theatre careers, and it’s especially suited for those looking to get access to free plays. Ushers are responsible for greeting guests and getting them to their seats. They also often provide the program or Playbill, depending on the performance.
The wardrobe supervisor takes over as head of the department once the work of the costume designer is done. Responsibilities include supervising costume repairs/maintenance, hiring staff, creating schedules, and managing dressers.
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Are you pursuing any of these theatre careers?
Or are you maybe pursuing multiple theatre careers? Did you choose to go through formal education to get to where you are now? We’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!
Author: Stacy Karyn
Stacy Karyn is the founder of Theatre Trip, author of The Thespian’s Bucket List, and creator of The Cast Album List. She holds a BA in theatre, a TESOL drama certificate, and has worked and interned with Broadway and Off-Broadway theaters.