There is no one easy pathway into working in theatre, and there are many different ways into your dream job. Which is why we’ve put together some advice on getting your first theatre job.
Do your research
See as many shows as you can, from as many genres as possible.
And it doesn’t have to hit your bank balance too hard either, as lots of theatres have ticket offers for young people. Venues including the National Theatre, Young Vic, Sheffield Theatre and Manchester Royal Exchange all run ticket schemes for young people interested in seeing a show. So it’s worth doing your research and finding out if your local venue runs similar offers.
You can also sign up to the below website’s mailing lists, who regularly offer advice, guidance and discounts to young people who love the theatre.
This annual event is the UK’s biggest free theatre careers event. Aimed at young people who want an offstage career in the theatre, the day is full of workshops, Q&As and networking opportunities.
Mousetrap is a theatre education charity who help bring Theatreland into the lives of disadvantaged young people.
The in-house charity of the Theatre Royal Haymarket, they help young people aged 16 – 30 with a series of programmes and workshops. This includes hosting inspiring talks with leading industry figures, onstage workshops, careers advice sessions, creative opportunities and paid apprenticeships.
You should also do your research in terms of finding out the nitty gritty of theatre jobs, to figure out what role is suitable for you. Do you belong on the stage as a performer? Or would you be more suited to a creative offstage role?
Organisations like Creative & Cultural Skills and Get Into Theatre have job profiles and advice for every job in theatre to help you discover the right role for you.
If you already know that your theatre career is going to be offstage, the following organisations have great advice about training and apprenticeships for offstage roles:
- Stage Managers Association
- Society of British Theatre Designers
- Association of Lighting Designers
- Association of Sound Designers
- Association of Theatre Technicians
- Stage One for Producers
Work experience in theatre is highly competitive. In fact, some West End theatres don’t offer it to anyone under 18 due to health and safety reasons, while smaller theatres can book people in up to a year in advance.
In order to get your foot in the door, try contacting your local theatre and build a relationship with them. Ask about volunteering opportunities or front of house work, and talk to people about what their job involves.
You can get further advice and guidance by signing up to all your favourite theatre’s mailing lists to keep informed about their upcoming events and workshops.
Make work and network
Networking is key in getting into the theatre industry, so go to as many events as you can, offering support and help to people you meet. Give them your details, ideally on a business card, and social media networks can also be really helpful in these situations.
You can also meet theatre professionals at large careers fairs across the UK:
‘Backtage Careers’ is a stand that is hosted by many partners including National Theatre, Royal Opera House, TheatreCraft, Sadler’s Wells, Disney Theatricals and Whitelight. It is a chance to meet professionals from the industry to give you one to one advice of the right pathway for you.
Try to also meet like-minded people and create your own work! Ask a local venue for some space and arrange a sharing of your work, inviting people along for their feedback. This will not only help you meet people but will also help you to grow and develop your skillset.
The theatre industry needs a range of people in a variety of jobs, so immerse yourself in any way you can, don’t be afraid to reach out and find the opportunities on your doorstep.