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What job opportunities other than acting and teaching are avaliable for people who major in theater?

I am a high school junior who is deeply interested in musical theater. Due to the difficulty in maintaining a steady job within the acting field, i'd like to know about other alternative jobs that are still directly related to theater. #college #jobs #major #acting #actor #theater #opportunities

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David H.’s Answer

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Dear bgenesis,

This is an excellent question and one that my parents asked me as I approached gradation with a degree in Theater Arts. The jobs in theater that are not specifically acting are many and varied, interesting and exciting. First you might consider all the jobs that are directly related to producing theater starting with directing and assisting the director, stage managing, assistant stage managing. You might want to consider designing for the stage: costumes, scenery, lighting, properties and special effects. Then there are the practical crafts of theater production: stagecraft, building and painting scenery and backdrops, costume fabrication, shopping for costumes, building properties and furniture, jobs in lighting and electrics. Every actor uses make-up for the stage. You might want to check this out. You could consider operating the various equipment during the run of a show: operating the sound and light board,the spot lights, being a member of the running crew, shifting scenery, loading scenery onto the stage and striking it after the run of the show. In short, producing theater is a complicated business. In high school you can explore some of these jobs in your own high school productions and begin to discover how all the pieces of production fit together.

Training in the theater arts can continue at any institution of higher learning that has a theater department. If your interest is musical theater, study voice and dance. Vocal coaches and choreographers and dance captains are an important part of every musical. Learn to play a musical instrument. Every musical uses the services of a rehearsal pianist and all music must be transcribed. You can also consider jobs that use the same set of skills as a theater artist who can build, sew, paint, organize, electrify, modify, codify and mollify. Take care of the fys and you're pretty much set. Here is a short list of jobs I have had between acting gigs: bookkeeper, house painter, carpenter, substitute teacher, set designer, lighting designer, stage electrician, copy writer, book store clerk, gas station attendant, drudge in a saw mill, architectural model maker, school teacher, technical director, puppeteer, production manager and theater tour manager. I have never waited tables. My advice to you is to learn as much about theater production as possible and then do it.

Here are some places to work as a theater artist outside of high schools, colleges and universities: community theaters, regional theaters, summer outdoor theaters, summer festival theaters, cruise ships, industrials (where the introduction or promotion of a commercial product is the focus of the production), state fairs and amusement parks, busking (performing on the street or in the town square). The list is almost endless. However, if your goal is to become a musical theater performer, I suggest you focus like a laser on the skills necessary for this craft and art and become the best musical theater performer that you can possibly be so that you will not have to rely on other jobs to keep body and soul together.

Good luck