A Career in Performing Arts

Many young people dream about a career in performing arts; however it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to achieve this goal.

Most people who enjoy success in the performing arts industry started to work towards their dream at a very young age and if you, or your child, are interested in pursuing a career in the performing arts, then you may want to consider the following bits of advice.

Skills Required for the Performing Arts

Those who wish to be involved in the performing arts (with particular emphasis on performance) will be required to show acting talent and creativity. Creativity will allow an actor to inject their own unique ideas into a character or a performance, even if that character has already been portrayed by hundreds of different actors in the past.

A good actor must be able to communicate with others in their team and they should be prepared to take direction from others. Actors should be humble enough to understand that the success of a performance also hinges on those who do not appear directly on the stage. It is important that they are able to learn and remember their lines and cues quickly. They should be able to adapt quickly if the playwright or director chooses to change parts of the performance. They must also be able to display discipline, resilience, determination and persistence.

Most actors will experience rejection and harsh criticism at some point during their career. Being resilient will enable them to keep trying, even though they may feel like giving up. Actors who work in small performances or smaller theatre companies must also be flexible enough to take on roles which are not normally associated with actors, such as marketing, publicity and set design.

Dance/Drama Clubs

There are a lot of dance and drama societies in Britain which are specifically designed to cater for young people. These clubs and societies are geared towards helping youngsters to develop their all-round performance skills. Participants are taught how to improve their skills and then given opportunities to take part in performances. These societies also help to give children important social interactions.

English Language and Literature

Although no formal qualifications are required for those who wish to become an actor or actress, it is a good idea for them to study English Language and Literature.

Studying English Language and Literature can help performers to develop a proper understanding of the source material that they are being asked to study. Being able to identify the narrative themes and the key messages that the author is trying to portray will help an actor to perfect their portrayal of the characters. As part of an English Literature course, students will normally have the opportunity to study a variety of different plays, from Shakespeare through to contemporary playwrights such as Arthur Miller.

University or Drama School

Many people pursue a career in the performing arts without formal training or a university degree; however there are plenty of drama courses and university degrees available in Britain. Whilst drama school courses largely focus on developing practical skills for the performing arts, university degrees often include a theoretical element as well. Theoretical studies help students to understand key concepts which are used in performing arts.

Doing a degree or a drama course at an acclaimed establishment can also help a performer to build their connections and help them to find like-minded people to collaborate with on future projects. Some universities and drama courses also help students to put on showcase performances as part of their final year project. These performances may be attended by industry experts and talent agents.

Amateur Dramatics

Gain further experience of real performances by taking part in local amateur dramatics performances. Most amateur dramatics performances still require regular rehearsals and dedication from performers, so they help performers to gain additional experience. Amateur dramatics performances are also a good way for an actor to increase their portfolio and acting resume.

Work Experience in a Theatre

It is a great idea for prospective actors to try to get work experience in a theatre or a performance space. Developing an understanding of the way that a theatre operates can help prospective performers in their future career. It will also allow prospective actors to network with industry professionals. People who are working in a theatre or performance environment are also likely to hear about opportunities which have opened up elsewhere in the theatre.

Industry Magazines and Websites

Those who want to make it in the industry should regularly read trade magazines and look at industry specific websites. These types of media are great resources for those who are hoping to find out about the latest casting opportunities. Casting calls for most small parts are advertised in local and national trade magazine or on trade websites, because casting directors wish to get a wide breadth of talent applying for each role.

Trade magazines also discuss exciting developments that are occurring elsewhere in the industry. Knowing what is occurring across the industry can help new actors to develop their styles so that they can remain competitive in the industry.

Find an Agent

Most casting calls for major productions are not raised on the “open market”. For larger productions, actors are normally only invited to audition if they have been recommended by an agent. Getting an agent can help an actor to open up more opportunities for themselves. However, an agent will subsequently take a cut of any earnings that the actor makes from an opportunity which the agent has provided them with.

Join a Union

Equity is Britains main trade union for actors and other professional performers. Joining a union can help performers to mark themselves as a more legitimate option. Equity also sets a minimum rate of pay for performers, depending on what they are taking part in. Non-unionised actors may be paid at a lower rate and they will not be able to get the support of the union in any pay or employment disputes.