A Practical Guide to Working in Theatre (Backstage)


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Some skills allow you to work as a freelance, others can be used in a scenic workshop. Training: Most skills are variations on those used in other industries. A design college or a general construction course would be a good basis. RADA runs specialist courses in construction and scene painting. Video and automated scenery are new areas of employment. Video can include the preparing of content and operation in performance. Automation operators are only the norm for West End musicals, but the job involves a working knowledge of the automation equipment.

There is also work for electronic engineers with manufacturers creating the hardware, software and control systems for shows and permanent installations, such as powered flying. Training: Few drama schools provide training: some video technicians come from film schools and Guildhall has just established a video in performance course. Automation operators have often been stage managers or worked backstage.

Manufacturers such as Stage Technologies are often willing to train such people. A production manager is responsible for putting the whole production together, working with the creative team and the construction and technical departments. A technical manager is likely to be based in a theatre, leading the technical departments and responsible for the building and equipment.

Training: Get as much working experience of all aspects of production as you can. Could an apprenticeship start you off on a theatre career? They also tend to instigate projects. The writer has overall responsibility for the narrative of the play. A theatre may commission a play based on an idea pitched by the writer or, occasionally, a writer will be commissioned to write a script based on a format from a producer. A writer may also work collaboratively on a project instigated by a director. Writers may also receive rehearsal attendance fees and royalties. The director has the overall vision for the production, and is responsible usually in collaboration with a producer or artistic director for bringing together the cast and creative team.

They lead the rehearsal process up to opening night, and return regularly to give notes on long runs they will often have an assistant or associate working alongside them. Directors also get a royalty for commercial productions.

Glossary of Technical Theatre Terms – Stage Management – elaxuromov.cf

It is not essential to have any formal qualification, and most directors learn by being an assistant, but an MA creates a bridge into assisting. The Regional Theatre Young Directors Scheme runs placements across the country and has an excellent website detailing the various schemes: rtyds. A production designer is responsible for the overall look of a production, and is usually responsible for set and costumes.

A designer creates a scale model of the set and detailed sketches of costumes for the production team to create. On fringe productions the designer may be expected to help build the design. Training: Several art schools offer degrees in theatre design — notably Central Saint Martins and Wimbledon now both part of University of the Arts London.

Lighting designers ensure the action can be seen, while creating atmosphere and helping to locate scenes. The job is both creative and technical. A good lighting designer needs to be able to talk about the look and feel of a play, and dissect and analyse a script, as well as understanding the technicalities of a lighting rig. Training: Most lighting designers come through a degree in technical theatre, specialising in lighting design from a drama school, or occasionally a university. Many lighting designers begin their careers as theatre technicians, often taking on fringe design work on the side, and assisting established lighting designers.

Sound designers work with the designer and the lighting designer to create the world of the play — responsible for sound effects, but also creating atmosphere, helping to locate a scene, and composing soundscapes. Thanks to advances in technology, sound design has recently become much more ambitious as programmes such as QLab allow for much more control and flexibility.

On musicals the sound designer is responsible for mixing the production, finding the right balance between band and singer. They work closely with music directors and composers. Training: There are a number of good technical theatre courses, but very few places to study the creative art of sound design. Choreographers play a key role in musicals, in which they are responsible for the staging of the musical numbers and work closely with the director.

Choreographers or movement directors will also be used on many straight plays, and the role will vary enormously depending on the production, from being essentially a co-director, to coming in for a couple of sessions to choreograph a piece of period dance. Choreographers on musicals earn considerably more — a fee closer to that of a director — and royalties on commercial productions. Training: Most but not all choreographers start as dancers, and train on a dance or musical theatre course.

A composer for a musical will share responsibility for the overall narrative, and may also take on lyric writing duties. Pay: A composer for a musical will share a commission with a writer — usually split A composer of a musical would receive a royalty. Training: Most composers come through music college. A talent for composition and an understanding of text is far more important than a qualification.

A producer instigates a production, raises the money, and oversees the marketing. At other times a producer may be a general manager. A producer should not be confused with an investor, although sometimes especially in New York investors are given producer credits. Pay: Anything from bankruptcy to becoming a millionaire. Casting directors know every actor out there. When a production is being cast they work alongside the director, producers and the writer to find the actors — they make suggestions, introduce the director to actors and they organise the whole casting process.

Training: There are no set routes into casting, nor any specific qualifications. Many casting directors come from other departments, and there is some crossover between agents and casting directors. Sometimes known as a literary associate or a dramaturg, this role focuses on writing.

This is particularly true for theatres with a strong ethos of producing new work, though a literary manager may also be hunting out forgotten classics or new translations. He or she works with an artistic director to programme productions at the theatre. Training: A degree in English or theatre studies would help. Artistic directors are almost always theatre directors, but they can be producers, and every so often they are actors or actors-turned-directors. An artistic director is in charge of the creative life of the company, often working with the executive director.


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Usually also performing the role of chief executive or the joint chief executive, he or she holds an enormous responsibility: ensuring the books balance and looking after the welfare of the staff and visiting professionals. Training: Most artistic directors start as freelance directors. Work can also be found in specialist sectors such as voice-overs, corporate role play or theatre in education. The different roles an actor can play, from lead and character parts to supporting roles and walk-ons, may vary considerably at different stages of their career and has a direct effect on pay levels.

Although a relatively small number of high-profile actors get the bulk of publicity and press coverage, the reality is that many actors struggle — regardless of talent or experience — to earn a sustainable income from acting alone. Many supplement their income with other jobs, ranging from table waiting and call centre work to temping or teaching. Finding paid work is significantly harder than getting unpaid work. Full-time training is expensive and entry for the top drama schools is highly competitive, so part-time training is a route taken by many. Relevant subjects include performance studies, contemporary theatre and performance and musical theatre.

Singers in the charts or headlining West End musicals represent the tip of the iceberg in terms of the profession as a whole. In addition to the many singers performing solo in venues from opera houses to cruise ships, those employed most regularly are often backing vocalists and session singers. An experienced vocalist playing functions or corporate events can earn significantly more for one booking — although the responsibility of sourcing and paying the musicians is often part of that fee. Training: Proper vocal and performance training is important, from a health point of view as much as from an employability perspective.

Singers who wish to specialise in a particular field, such as musical theatre or opera, can pursue a formal qualification at a drama or music school. Private vocal coaching is also an ongoing training option and one that even experienced singers sometimes return to, either as a refresher or in preparation for specific auditions and roles.

For singers whose ambitions include musical theatre, additional dance and acting training is also advisable. Due to its physical nature, there is often a limit on how long a dancer can sustain a performing career. While not every professional dancer started as a child, it is probably the hardest career to get into if you have not been practising from an early age, particularly in disciplines such as ballet.


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  • Although many dancers specialise in a particular style, versatility, teamwork, reliability and being a fast learner are the key skills needed to attract regular employment. As their career develops, many dancers branch out into related fields such as choreography and teaching and continue in these roles once they hang up their dancing shoes. Although many dancers are freelance, there are some opportunities for full-time work with companies.

    Training: Most dancers take classes from childhood, often taking graded exams from awarding bodies such as the British Ballet Organisation or the Royal Academy of Dance, before moving on to vocational training at a dedicated dance college or on a musical theatre course.

    Ultimate beginners’ guide to theatre jobs 2016

    The training route into the commercial dance industry can be less formal but regular classes and ongoing training are a key part of all successful dance careers. There have been many great self-taught musicians, but in order to make a living in theatre, most will need to be able to read music as well as to play with other musicians in an orchestra or band in a variety of different styles.

    Unlike in the music industry, the role of a musician in theatre is often an invisible one, whether playing in a West End orchestra pit, in a resident band on a cruiseliner or as part of the studio orchestra for recordings and broadcasts. Training: Formal training and qualifications are available in a variety of musical styles and in specific instruments. Given the increased role of technology in music production, many professional musicians advise students to undertake training in technology and business along with more traditional music studies. Very few last the course.

    Although stand-up is the most common comedy format, improvisation and sketch groups are flourishing, many of which include trained actors, and regular comedy circuit performances can include everything from ventriloquism and magic to poetry. Access to the lucrative corporate, stadium or theatre circuits usually requires TV exposure via promotion from specialist agencies with a track record in this area.

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    There are many other ways in which people with a wide range of talents can be professionally involved. The agent should be in the theatre to support his or her clients at the opening of their shows although the agency office is, obviously, elsewhere. A literary agent does a similar job for playwrights. Pay: Depends entirely on the list of actors and their earning capacity. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies. Dispatched from the UK in 2 business days When will my order arrive? Janus Vinther. Elizabeth Friendship.

    Writing Music for the Stage

    Kit Spencer. Rob Swain. Victoria Deiorio. Peter Maccoy. Nick Moran. Gill Foreman. Helen E. Francis Reid. Helen Manfull. Matthew White. Rafael Jaen. Dani Rene. Home Contact us Help Free delivery worldwide. Free delivery worldwide. Bestselling Series. Harry Potter. Popular Features. New Releases. Description Collaboration is the most important facet of any theatrical company. From the performers on stage to the choreographers, designers and technicians working behind the scenes, this book considers all departments working on a production and instructs them on how to unify their individual skills towards a shared goal.

    About A Practical Guide to Working in Theatre

    From Vaudeville to classical opera, this book establishes the skills that each specialist brings to the production process before demonstrating how each individual contribution can be utilized in tandem with all other creative teams. With particular focus on enhancing interdepartmental communication, Collaborating Backstage examines all the challenges that may befall artistic companies and projects made up of many different parts.

    This book explains how to understand technical jargon within teams that speak a variety of languages and come from different cultural backgrounds; how to recognise and follow the 'unwritten rules' of theatre; and how best to achieve the ultimate creative potential of a team working completely in sync. Underpinned by incisive theories on performance, communication and creativity, Collaborating Backstage is full of helpful illustrations and innovative methods to achieve effective working relationships in the theatre. Product details Format Paperback pages Dimensions x x

    A Practical Guide to Working in Theatre (Backstage) A Practical Guide to Working in Theatre (Backstage)
    A Practical Guide to Working in Theatre (Backstage) A Practical Guide to Working in Theatre (Backstage)
    A Practical Guide to Working in Theatre (Backstage) A Practical Guide to Working in Theatre (Backstage)
    A Practical Guide to Working in Theatre (Backstage) A Practical Guide to Working in Theatre (Backstage)
    A Practical Guide to Working in Theatre (Backstage) A Practical Guide to Working in Theatre (Backstage)
    A Practical Guide to Working in Theatre (Backstage) A Practical Guide to Working in Theatre (Backstage)
    A Practical Guide to Working in Theatre (Backstage) A Practical Guide to Working in Theatre (Backstage)

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