Getting into the world of theatre

Firstly, we should say that working in theatre encompasses a very, very wide range of skills. The list of job types in the industry is extremely long... costume designers, music directors, prop makers, scenic artists, fundraisers, stage managers, box office assistants, ushers, sound designers, lighting designers, set builders, riggers... and many more. So to offer general guidelines for getting into the industry is virtually impossible.

In some instances those who have learned their craft in another medium (e.g. film and television) will make the sideway step into theatre. Some skilled professionals (e.g. costume designers, prop makers, lighting designers etc.) work happily across different media. In the main, however, people tend to specialise in theatre, and theatre does require specific skills.

Technicians (lighting and sound) will usually have received formal training and possess an academic qualification in their particular specialist field.

Job Descriptions

Below we have linked to our job definitions for some of the popular theatre jobs.

Costume Designer

Lighting Technician

Makeup Artist

Prop Maker

Sound Engineer

Stage Manager

(For more job descriptions please click here.)

Accredited courses

Each year, The National Council for Drama Training gives accreditation to those courses it thinks best serve the student. Because of the prestige of these courses entry is very competitive.

NCDT accredited courses

Get Into Theatre

A great resource for those looking to find out more about the theatre world, career options, case studies and work experience.

(Click here to visit the site.)

Local theatre companies

A great way to get your foot on the ladder is to approach local theatre companies. They may be able to give you an insight into the industry and what the different roles involve - a real, direct window onto the world of theatre.

(Click here to visit amateur theatre companies.)

Useful Organisations

There are many organisations for those working in different sectors of theatre. These include the Association of British Theatre Technicians (ABTT), the Stage Management Association (SMA), the Professional Lighting and Sound Association (PLASA), the Association of Lighting Designers, the Institution of Lighting Engineers, the Costume Society...

((Click here for a list of organisations.)

Rates of Pay

Like many sectors of the Arts, pay tends to be relatively low and the working hours often long. If you're hoping to make your millions in theatre then you might want to rethink your career. Even some of the relatively senior roles such as Stage Manager may pay poorly in comparison to many other professions which require similar levels of experience and responsibility. People tend to gravitate towards the theatre industry because of genuine passion rather than financial reward. Before embarking on your career it is worth considering this.

(Click here for Equity's guide to recommended rates of pay.)

A Younger Theatre

Here is a great blog about Theatre about getting into theatre and working in the industry as a young person.

Click here to read it.

Check out Get Into Theatre's guide to Getting Into Theatre With No Qualifications here.

Mandy Actors

You can use Mandy to find work in the theatre sector. Following this to find UK theatre jobs near you.