Although most people think immediately of Acting or Performing in one respect or another, there are numerous other positions involved in the theatre as a career choice.
PRODUCER – All forms of theatre have someone who functions as producer: responsible
for the entire production.
- Play selection
- Opening and closing dates
- Hires and fires all artistic and management personnel
- Raises all funds necessary: production expenses, salaries, etc.
- Advertising and ticket sales and promotions are under the producer’s supervision
- Responsible only to the producer
- Responsible for all artistic aspects of a production
- Works with artistic staff in designing a production concept
- Guides and instructs performers from casting through the entire run
GENERAL MANAGER – Hired by the producer
- Prepares budget
- Arranges costume rentals, set construction expenses
- Negotiates for theatre rental
COMPANY MANAGER – Hired by the General Manager
- Manages Box Office
- Handles payroll
- Secures housing if playing “on the road”
HOUSE MANAGER – Employed by the theatre owner
- Responsible for maintaining the theatre building
- Manages payroll for ushers, cleaners, stagehands, etc.
- Oversees maintenance of dressing rooms, lobby, restrooms, etc.
- Handles security and all problems such as lost tickets, sudden illness of audience member, emergency calls for patrons, etc.
PROMOTERS – act as liaisons between the theatre and the outside world.
- Generate understanding, interest, and excitement in the theatre or production
- Attract audiences and financial backing
- If not a separate position as PRESS AGENT, the promoter will handle all press releases and publicity.
TECHNICAL STAFF – Technical positions are somewhat self-explanatory but are as vital as any to the creation of the theatrical experience. Some of these are:
- Scene Designer
- Technical Director
- Costume Designer
- Lighting Designer
- Props Master
- Stage Manager
- Stagehands, etc.
ACTING – Most people concentrate on the concept of becoming an actor when they think of studying theatre as a career. The “typical actor” will rapidly discover that though he feels he fits the role perfectly: “6 feet tall, average build, brown hair, blue eyes…etc.”, he is amazed to discover that upon arriving at a casting office he’ll open the door and find fifty or more people answering the same description. Thus in attempting to include advantages and disadvantages, it might be best to begin with the disadvantages.
- The greatest disadvantage is the chronic and acute shortage of jobs for the growing number of actors.
- Credit is difficult to establish due to job uncertainty.
- Getting employment other than acting is viewed skeptically by potential employers who previously have been suddenly without workers because an acting job came up.
- Income is varied and unpredictable when you are working as an actor.
- There is always “a chance” that an actor will “make it” — acting is one of the few opportunities you might have to make large sums of money with little capital investment at the start.
- Acknowledgment in one accomplishment may bring several other job offerings.
- An actor has the freedom from routine — no 9:00 to 5:00 job every day — some days many hours of work, some days short working hours.
- Opportunities for travel
- Opportunities for increasing your own skills and capabilities are exciting
- You can gain a varied education through work and associates.
Where do actors work? Broadway, Regional Theatre, Dinner Theatres, Off-Broadway, Off-Off Broadway, Summer Stock, Industrial Shows, Film, Television, Radio……
“I have seen many talented actors not get hired simply because of a poor audition. It happens all too frequently in the theatre and in films, too.” – Bob Fosse
“An actor is forever trying to get a part; an actor is forever getting rejected, never knowing why, simply not wanted. An actor’s life is not to be envied. It consists mostly of losing out, of being turned down. Unendurable, such a life, for most of us. I will never know how actors manage to persist.” – Michael Shurtleff, Audition
Before an actor gets to act, the actor must first traverse the rickety swinging bridge over the mind-numbingly deep chasm that is the audition. The audition is the theatrical job interview, replete with all the requisite stress which that implies. In the world of theatre, actors will generally encounter three types of audition situations: memorized monologue, reading, and musical theatre. Here at PSC we do readings, but theatre majors at PSC need to be familiar with all three types.
Memorized monologues – These are especially important in order to achieve professional employment. At the Southeastern Theatre Conference’s two annual auditions, for instance, an actor gets 60 seconds worth of stage time to audition, 90 seconds if they want to act and sing. If the actor gets a callback, the first question asked is often, “Do you have another piece you can do for us?” For that reason, all actors should have two contrasting monologues ready to go at any time.
Contrasting monologues: Contrast can be accomplished in many ways. You can have classic comedy or classic tragedy, such as plays from the Ancient Greeks, Shakespeare, the Restoration, Spanish Golden Age, etc. You can also have contemporary serious or comedic monologues, from plays written in the last 20-50 years. These should be no longer than two minutes in length, with the actor able to do a 60-second or 120-second version at an auditor’s request. Two contrasting monologues are the minimum. An actor truly hungry for a job should have four contrasting monologues ready to go at the drop of a hat: one classic comedy, one classic tragedy, one modern comedy, one modern serious drama. These four should be sufficient to show an auditioning actor’s full range.
Readings – A cold reading is where the actor has no idea about the script and gets the pages only a few minutes, sometimes seconds, before being called onto the stage. That can happen at PSC, but we usually offer warm readings, in that scripts are available for perusal in the main Music and Theatre office before auditions take place. Cold or warm, a reading is exactly what it sounds like: you get pages from the script, you go onstage either alone or with other actors, and you read. There are some important considerations when reading for an audition.
- Be seen and heard. Make sure you are in the light and not blocked from view by other actors. Speak loudly, clearly and appropriately.
- Give a full experience of who you are and what you can do. In a reading situation, auditors do not expect a complete and accurate, fully drawn character. Auditors want to see what you look like and sound like on the stage. Be you in whatever situation the characters find themselves.
- Remember it is a reading and not a performance – welcome the script instead of trying to get rid of it.
- Dress appropriately – not a costume, but something from your wardrobe analogous to the character you wish the auditor to see you as. If you don’t have a particular role in mind, wear something unobtrusive so that they see you rather than what you are wearing.
- Stage directions should be ignored in almost all cold readings. You cannot stomp around the stage and read at the same time. Stage directions can be a trap and get you into trouble. Obey them only when they are useful to you.
Musicals – Most musicals have a three-part audition process. First, you must sing, then dance, then read or perform a monologue. At PSC we offer an accompanist, so auditioners should bring either sheet music or recorded music and be prepared to sing. Bring movement clothes in case a dance audition is called for as well.
“The most important element in singing at auditions is not the forming of sound but the creation of a relationship…Most singers don’t, which is why they are dull and lifeless, concerned as they are with making notes and pear-shaped vowel sounds.” – Michael Shurtleff, Audition –
Don’t forget, just because you are singing doesn’t mean you are no longer acting. A song is basically the same thing as a memorized monologue. Can you act and sing at the same time? Yes and the auditors need to see that. Identify the emotions in your song and communicate those feelings. Practical considerations:
- Show up early. If auditions begin at 7:00 and you show up at 7:00, you are late.
- Bring pen or pencil, as there are forms to fill out.
- Bring schedule with you so that you can correctly identify any rehearsal/performance conflicts.
- All performers in PSC productions must register for a 1-hour credit course. There are no exceptions. Financial aid may be available to those unable to pay this fee.
- Do a vocal and physical warm-up before auditions begin so that you can show the auditors the best performance possible. Don’t give yourself any more obstacles than absolutely necessary; help yourself achieve success.
- Not getting a part does not mean you are no good. It just means you weren’t right for the part this time. Next time it may be a completely different story.
|THE 2000||Theatre Appreciation||Designed to instill in the student a curiosity and interest in all areas of the theatre by inspiring him or her to look at this collaborative art form from the point of view of those who create it. This is not an acting class.|
|THE 2300||Dramatic Literature||Explores dramatic literature and develops the student’s knowledge and appreciation of the elements of literature through the study of selected scripts, playwrights and dramatic theories. Among these elements are the history of dramatic literature, genre study and the theory and practice of dramatic analysis, and criticism.|
|DAA 1100||Beginning Modern Dance||Introduces the student to the principles of modern dance technique. Emphasis on correct placement and body alignment, strength and flexibility, movement vocabulary, rhythmic and creative skills.|
|DAA 1200||Fundamentals of Ballet||Beginning level ballet technique class with focus on fundamentals of classical ballet and designed to strengthen and develop technique at a beginning level through Barre and Centre practice. Emphasis is on correct body placement and alignment, strength and flexibility, vocabulary, musicality, and movement quality.|
|THE 2925||Theatre Colloquiums||Special sessions centering on a specific topic designed to enhance specific professional skills. Topics will be drawn from the areas of acting, technical theatre, and dance/stage movement. In acting, the focus will be upon improvisational acting skills. In technical theatre, the focus will be on the focus will be on Old Age and basic Theatrical Make-up. In dance/stage movement, the focus will be on a variety of physical skills and movement exercises; safety conscious warm-up techniques; basic stage combat techniques will be introduced.|
|TPA 2200||Introduction to Technical Theatre||Basic design practice as applied to stage settings, practical exercises in construction, painting, mounting, and lighting a stage production. The student enrolled in this course will not be permitted to enroll in Stagecraft Workshop during the same semester.|
|TPA 2290C||Technical Laboratory||Technical Laboratory|
|TPP 1110||Acting I||A practical study of beginning acting. Basic skills will be practiced in pantomime, improvisations, and selected scenes. Participation in current Pensacola State College production is encouraged, as well as studying other actors in performance in area theaters: Pensacola Little Theatre, University of West Florida, and local secondary schools.|
|TPP 1111||Acting II||A study of acting styles with practical application of acting skills in classroom exercises and extra-curricular activities. A study of the advantages and disadvantages of theatre as a vocation and/or an avocation.|
|TPP 2190||Rehearsal and Performance (3 times)||This credit hour is restricted to the students who are cast in performing roles in the dramatic productions of the semester. This credit may be earned three times. Hours to be arranged.|
|TPP 2300||Directing I||Introduces the student to the fundamental principles and techniques of play direction to include script selection and analysis, casting, blocking, composition, picturization, interpretation, and staging of plays.|
|DAN 2100||Dance Appreciation||Introduces the student to the history and culture of dance as an art form. Explores various dance elements, forms, and styles from ancient and world dance to ballet, modern, jazz, theatre, and social dance including lectures, video presentations, demonstrations, and discussion.|
Work skills are a MUST in the field of acting — to subsist between jobs. Office work, waiting tables, telephone answering and solicitations, etc., will often help you get by.
Never consider going to New York or Hollywood without enough money to keep you going for six months or more. There are expenses often overlooked by the inexperienced: telephone answering service, pictures, resumes, lessons, and probably one of the published performer’s directories. Costs of clothes, agents, living expenses in general, and transportation can mount rapidly.
An agent does not get jobs — he submits you for them, arranges appointments or interviews, negotiates for your salary and working conditions — then, when you are successful at getting a job, he gets his 10% commission. Some people disagree as to whether an actor needs an agent or not. An actor can often get an interview on his own, but the actor sent by an agent has already secured an interview appointment. In some locations, you cannot pass the security station without an appointment — not even to see the receptionist to get an appointment. But be careful in selecting an agent. Reputable ones are available and are best selected through referrals.
A Manager is usually an agent who has exclusive rights to your career. You can only work through your manager, as opposed to being able to accept appointments through other agents. At the end of your contract term, if you are not satisfied with your manager, you can seek assistance elsewhere.
You don’t have to go to New York or Hollywood to find work. Even local radio and television stations occasionally need new talent. This experience can be invaluable because not only can you gain experience locally, but you can live economically “at home” and save for a future move.
Learning should never stop! Therefore, the more accomplished a performer you are before “turning pro”, the better your chances for work. But even with training in your background, remember that every master carpenter sharpens his tools between jobs, and so should the actor. Reviewing classes in acting skills will keep you on your toes. Expand your studies and experiences in other areas of the theatre to become a more marketable theatre person.
Above all, the desire to perform must be ever constant – not for the money or the glory, but for the aesthetic expression and self-fulfillment you yourself can gain. Without these internal desires, your chances in a highly competitive field may be somewhat dim. The reality of the good and bad, and your personal drive are the things to keep in mind.
Students sometimes ask, “Do you think I have what it takes to make it?” You are the only one who can answer that question. Our advice is this: life is about chasing your dreams. So chase your dreams, and make your life a great one. Live a life full of adventure and love for what you do, and not one of regret and wonderings of “What if…?”
The following is a list of plays Theatre majors should read during their career at PSC in order to prepare them with an adequate vocabulary and knowledge of accepted masterworks in professional and academic theatre programs around the country.
- Antigone – Sophocles
- Medea – Euripedes
- Pseudolus – Plautus
- Everyman – Anonymous
- Doctor Faustus – Christopher Marlowe
- King Lear – Shakespeare
- As You Like It – Shakespeare
- Volpone – Ben Jonson
- Life is a Dream – Calderon
- Phedre – Jean Racine
- Tartuffe – Moliere
- The Way of the World – William Congreve
- The Man of Mode – Sir George Etherege
- Hedda Gabler – Ibsen
- Uncle Vanya – Anton Chekhov
- Uncle Vanya – Anton Chekhov
- Miss Julie – August Strindberg
- Man and Superman – George Bernard Shaw
- Trifles – Susan Glaspell
- Six Characters in Search of an Author – Luigi Pirandello
- Long Day’s Journey Into Night – Eugene O’Neill
- The Caucasian Chalk Circle – Bertolt Brecht
- Waiting for Godot – Samuel Beckett
- The Bald Soprano – Eugene Ionesco
- Streetcar Named Desire – Tennessee Williams
- Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? – Edward Albee
- Curse of the Starving Class – Sam Shepard
- American Buffalo- David Mamet
- The Heidi Chronicles – Wendy Wasserstein
- Fences – August Wilson
- How I Learned to Drive – Paula Vogel