As with any job, it is important that you have an idea and knowledge about the industry you are about to enter. For some reason, however, theatre and the arts can have a strange mystifying curtain around it. Is it the freelance nature of this industry? There is a certain every-man-for-himself feeling when it comes to jobs. Help in learning your craft can be hard to come by.
But don’t worry about it just yet… this article should help you on your way to learning about our industry. Helping you to understand the importance of brushing up on your theatre facts.
Because this is such a huge topic I’m going to split this article into two sections. Why you should know as much as you can & how to go about learning it.
As I said before you wouldn’t do any other interviews without knowing what you’re going into. Unfortunately, in our world, you need to be more in depth.
If you go into an audition and know your lines – perfect. But should that be all you do? Hell no. With a bit more research you can turn a good audition into a great one.
This isn’t related to the play, you should have studied that cover-to-cover anyway! Find out about Director. What have they done before? Who have they worked with? Do they have a style? That way, you are already looking more favourable than other people going into the audition because you care.
Remember there is a line that you shouldn’t cross to all that. In school, they taught me to show how interested I was in the job by reeling off facts at them. Don’t do that. No one wants to be sat isolated in a room with their stalker.
You might do all this research and never even mention it. But prepare yourself for an opportunity. The conversation could lead to an opportunity to talk about the play you saw which they directed. People want to work with you if you are truly interested. If you know what you’re talking about it, you look like you give a damn.
Of course, needing to know your way around a topic doesn’t end there. The more you know, the more work you’ll soon get. Keep your ear to the ground. You’ll notice opportunities that you wouldn’t if you were waiting for something to ‘jump out at you’.
When you find these, give your agent a nudge; if you have one. Your agent wants you to be working, they will be delighted for the heads up. If you don’t have an agent, find a way to get yourself in the room. Find the emails for the right people and politely introduce yourself.
For all you writers, keep an awareness of current themes. You may just find that play you’ve been hiding away in the bottom drawer has just fallen into vogue…
Having said all the above about why it is important to expand your knowledge, you might be thinking… but how? Well, do your research!
Here is a list of sources that have served me well over the years. Now, this is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a start.
A fantastic place to start. A magazine dedicated to the Theatre industry, what more do you need.
Now, if you’re like me and don’t have loads of money to afford the subscription, don’t worry. You can subscribe to their emails and read up to 5 articles a month for free. You also get access to the jobs page and can have a view of them all and see if any fit your casting. They also have all social media pages and post all sorts of news.
How To Do Theatre
As I write this there is a gun pointed firmly in my back…
I’m kidding, of course, this site is great! A bunch of young theatre-makers wanting to share their opinions and advice on how to get going. I wish I had this when I was starting out.
BBC Writers Room
A great one for writers. They list plenty of job opportunities for writers. For all the non-writers it’s also worth noting that if something is being written there is a good chance they will need Actors. They also release a lot of scripts – perfect if you’re searching for a monologue/duologue from television.
Today Tix is an app offering tons of discounted theatre tickets. It features loads of plays that are currently on in the West End for discounted prices and some articles about the industry. I use this to keep an eye on what is going on in London. Quick, easy and cheap tickets… great!
There are so many books about drama, ranging from classical to modern day. It’s hard to tell you where to start but a good idea would be to check out the major Drama Publishers. Nick Hern Books & Oberon Books are great examples of this, to name but a few. They have a section full of great books to help you approach all kinds of different subjects.
Follow all the Theatres, Directors, Actors, and pretty much anyone else you can think of. You will soon know what they are doing and who they are working with.
I hope this will helps you approach the terrifying prospect of forging your own career. It’s a consistent process and once you start to dig a little, it will start to get so much easier. I promise.
John is a graduate of the YEP Actors and Writers courses and is currently studying Acting at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. He continues to write his own plays in his own time. He is also an avid football fan and is trying to make his debut into the Liverpool first eleven. Acting was always the plan B.