Careers in the Performing Arts Industry

Those who choose to do a performing arts degree are not limited to being an actual performer. The performing arts industry is full of creative and talented people who never actually appear in front of the audience themselves. There are many other roles within the industry which are just as important to the creation of an artistic piece. So let’s look at just a few of the different career choices within the performing arts industry:


A scriptwriter should understand how to use language to tell a story to the audience. Most scripts will include running themes or ideas which can be developed throughout the performance. A good script should be able to convey things in both subtle and overt ways. Most successful scriptwriters study English language and literature so that they can gain a better understanding of narrative development and how dramatic structure can shape a story.

The writer will need creativity and imagination to devise a script which will hold the attention of the audience. A good scriptwriter should be able to accept criticism and rejection of their work, as well as being prepared to adapt their script to meet the needs of the director and performers.

Prop and Set Designer

A great set designer will have an eye for detail, as they must control every detail of the inanimate objects that will appear on the stage. Those who work on film productions must be able to consider every single item that could appear in a shot. Many set designers and prop specialists are constantly on the look-out for interesting objects and artefacts which can be used in future set designs.

A set designer must understand that their choices will be interpreted by the audience as part of the audience’s understandings of the performance. Set designers should have excellent communication skills, because they will need to take instructions from the director whilst also being able to explain the choices that they have made. The set that they design will act as a form of non-verbal communication with the audience. Most set designers are practical people who are able to draw, change and make designs, in order to create the perfect set for each individual piece.


The director has overall responsibility for the interpretation of a script, score or story. They are required to communicate with almost everyone else who is involved with the production, to help to bring all aspects of the performance together in a coherent way. A director should also be able to understand non-verbal forms of communication, as they must consider how best to convey their visions to the audience.

Theatre directors must be able to understand and analyse themes and ideas which are portrayed in a script. They are normally required to hold auditions and interviews for performers and members of their creative team. A director should have excellent time management and project management skills. They may also hold responsibility for the budget of the play.

Dance and Drama Teacher

A dance/drama teacher is responsible for helping performers to improve their skills. Teachers can run classes for children, teenagers or adults of any ability. If you wish to teach drama at a school, you may need to obtain a teaching qualification. Some schools may also require drama teachers to teach other subjects, such as English Language or English Literature. Classes may cover a broad range of subject matter or they may focus on narrower and more specific goals, such as silent performance or accent coaching.

A teacher should be able to communicate with their pupils effectively. They also need to know that pupils learn in a variety of different ways. They should be able to inspire their pupils to develop their own creativity.


Technicians are responsible for a lot of the mechanical and technical aspects of a performance. Lighting specialists are also considered to be under the umbrella term of technician. Technicians must understand health and safety standards, to ensure that they, the audience and the performers are all kept safe during a production.

Technicians are required to have practical, numerical and technical skills to do their job well. They must be able to follow design instructions properly, and work with the set designers and directors to help them to achieve their vision. Technicians are also required to be precise. For example, lighting technicians need to be able to follow precise cues from the stage manager during a performance.

Make-Up Artist

Make-up artists are responsible for styling the performers for plays, dance shows, films and television. A make-up artist may be forced to work well under pressure, because they must keep to tight deadlines so that performers will be ready in time. They may also need to touch up hair and make-up quickly in between scenes. A make-up artist may have to use their problem solving skills to help to create styles which meet the vision of the director. They must also be able to adapt their style to suit the medium that they are working with. For example, stage make-up may have to be more pronounced so that it can be seen properly by the audience.

Stage Manager

A stage manager is responsible for everything that happens on the stage before, during and after a performance. They are responsible for organising rehearsals, preparing the stage for a performance, directing scene changes, giving cues for performers, light and sound effects, liaising with front-of-house staff, and clearing up the stage after a performance.

A stage manager must be able to think quickly if a problem arises. They must stay calm and be able to communicate well with a variety of other people. It is important that a stage manager is able to make snap decisions without having to consult with other people. They should be able to demonstrate strong planning, organisational and leadership skills to ensure that every performance runs smoothly. A good stage manager should have a high level of attention to detail, as they need to be able to spot the first signs of trouble if something starts to go wrong during a performance.