Theatrical directing and production refer to key professional competencies in live theater. Keep reading to get an overview of this career field. Learn more about degrees in this field, what they entail and how they prepare you for employment. Find out what the career prospects are for theatrical directing and production jobs.
Theatrical directing and production runs the gamut of activities necessary to plan and execute a live performance in a theater. Theatrical directing is primarily concerned with the creative aspects of a performance, such as adapting a script for the stage and helping actors embody their characters. Production involves the financial and business aspects of performances, which can entail choosing scripts, finding directors and managing schedules, budgets and advertisements. To work in this field, you'll need creative vision combined with practical management skills.
Large metropolitan areas offer the most diverse career opportunities in theatrical directing and production. Theaters, opera houses and other performing arts facilities that put on live shows commonly hire theater directors and producers. You could also work with drama companies and nonprofit organizations that take shows on tour, or you may direct and produce Broadway shows, though these high-paying jobs may be more competitive. You could work as a theater production manager or talent director, or you may pursue a career as a drama teacher for a public or private school, studio or professional theater group. Related careers can also be found in the areas of drama therapy and arts management.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects jobs for producers and directors to grow at a slower than average rate of 3% between 2012 and 2022 (www.bls.gov). According to the BLS, theater employment in large cities should provide the best prospects, due to more stable funding. The BLS also reports that the median annual salary for producers and directors as of May 2013 was $69,480.
While there is no single path into theatrical directing and production, formal training and relevant work experience are often needed to establish a career in this competitive field. Many schools offer bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in theatrical directing and production. The most common degrees include the Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts. Some schools offer more specialized degrees as well, such as in musical theater directing or theater technology. The National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST) is the accrediting authority of undergraduate and graduate degree programs in this field. Entry into a theatrical directing and production program may require a portfolio and resume that highlight your skills, interests and abilities in the field, such as previous work in photography, sculpting and photos of previously completed work on the stage.
Theatrical directing and production programs assimilate knowledge in theater history, narrative theory, acting techniques and use of space. Major courses often include production technology, advanced stagecraft, costume design, lighting and sound, set design and stage management, with internship opportunities also available in most programs. Bachelor's and master's degree programs are primarily technical and hands-on, whereby you'll likely complete several creative projects such as set, sound and lighting design, stage readings and even full-length productions. Doctoral programs are designed to prepare students to become scholars and directors and are more research-oriented; they culminate in a dissertation project and a 3-year residency.