In a guest post for YPIA, blogger Sarah Wells writes about the breadth of roles available in the theatre industry
When people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them ‘I work in the theatre.’ 99% of the time I get the response ‘are you an actress?’
No, I am not a failed actress, I’m not working here between acting jobs and no, I don’t aspire to be an actress. I am very happy to say that I love my job and I am here by choice but people forget that there is much more to theatre than being a performer.
Since working in a Box Office, I have been introduced to so many elements of putting on a show - some that I never would have even thought about. This has helped me massively with finding a path to take in my own career. So, what jobs are available that aren’t acting?
Box Office, front of house and theatre management
Without staff at the theatre, there wouldn’t be a show. You need the Box Office staff to sell tickets, issue tickets, answer telephone and email queries and manage the website so you can buy tickets online. Front of house staff need to usher you to your seat and serve you at the bar. Then there are the theatre managers - they make sure the bar is stocked, the staff are in place, the theatre is clean and tidy and, in general, manage the goings on in the theatre.
Carpenters, electricians and building maintenance
Just like you might need one of these trades for your house, theatres also need these roles to continue to run smoothly. Sets need to be built and maintained, so carpentry can be applied to a theatre setting. Same with electricians, not only does the stage need to be lit but also there are hundreds of lights (as well as other appliances) in the building that need to be checked and maintained. There is also a building maintenance manager, which includes things like managing the health and safety standards of the building, making sure things that are broken are replaced and making sure the building is in tip top shape.
Who opens the building in the morning and closes it at night? Who makes sure that security cameras are on and keeps a register of everyone in the building? Stage door! It’s a vital role but often forgotten.
Of course, we all need to be paid just like any other business. Plus, we need to pay the people who do things for us.
So, what about the show? Yes, there are actors and the back stage crew, but who manages them? They will have a company manager who takes care of their wellbeing, organises their schedule and rehearsals and in some cases also helps with casting. There are also the production assistants who assist the producers and ensure that events are organised, schedules are managed and guests of the show have tickets. There is also marketing and PR to consider when thinking of careers in the theatre. They will work with the producers on advertising, prices and special offers for the show.
Where do I start?
I’ve covered just a small handful of jobs available within the theatre industry but there are so many more. So, if you don’t want to be a performer and you are rubbish at rigging lights, there are plenty of other options out there. No sure where to start? Well below is a list of websites to get started. Loads of companies offer experience days, internships, apprenticeships, courses, workshops and careers. Plus check out the full list of career options available provided by the website Get into Theatre.
This website is more aimed towards young adults and people just leaving drama school or college. They provide details of courses as well as advise for people looking to find a career.
Master class offer day workshops in all kinds of fields from acting to production which are FREE! They are held at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in central London so you also get chance to visit a West End venue. Plus, they do some great ticket offers if you are a member.
This is an all-day free careers fair, with workshops, talks and Q&A sessions all focussed around career options in the arts. There is an opportunity to talk to people working in the industry and get some great advice on your next steps. Its aimed at ages 16 – 30.
This is a theatre company that mainly focuses on new writers work, but they also offer day work shops in theatre managements and other off-stage jobs.
This is a one stop shop with a list of arts jobs available all over the UK, just like Indeed or Total Jobs.
Follow Sarah Wells’ blog Thrifty Theatre for tips on enjoying the theatre on a small budget