The theater industry requires having great presentation skills, perseverance/resilience, punctuality, and being highly organized. If you’re trying to be an actor, get involved with your school productions, community and small regional theater, attend as many productions and events as possible and keep auditioning! If you want to work behind the scenes, volunteer or intern on as many productions as you can. Network! Network! Network! Chicago provides opportunities from smaller storefront theaters to larger regional theater. Chicago also offers extensive opportunities of comedy and Improv beyond that of second city. Pick up the reader, newcity, and every possible weekly produced in print and online detailing all the theatre that happens in this city on a weekly basis and get out there. These are the first steps that will get you closer to thinking about the multiple casting and representation agencies that have offices here in Chicago.
What it Takes
- Your job search arsenal includes resume, headshots (actors), the ability to write a concise and articulate cover letter, and production stills, as well as, video of your work in your portfolio/website.
- Interview and auditioning skills. You’ll find these opportunities in your curriculum and beyond. Attend workshops and seminars that attend to the interviewing and auditioning process.
- Time management. There are many tips and strategies and ultimately different things work for different people, but to manage your career as a theatre profession you’ll need to be able to manage your time.
- Save everything. If you’re on stage or behind the scenes, you need to document your work. Use Talent Pool to source photographers or videographers if you are unable to capture it yourself. Make sure the focus is on you or your work so it is not a dot in the image or video.
- Experience is crucial. Prove yourself by volunteering or interning for a theater company. This also pays off in many networking opportunities. It is opportunity for you to know people, but they also need to know you and your capability.
- Volunteer when possible at the theatres you are most interested in. Whether it's in the box office or as an usher, it’s a great way to meet people that work in that theater, as well as the patrons.
Sample Job TitlesPerformance Based:
Voice Over Artist
Box Office Manager
Costume Shop Manager
Company ManagerProduction Cont'd:
Key Theatres and Companies in Chicago
Chicago Area Resources
Acting Studio Chicago - Info and Education Info Page
Acting Meetup Group - Meetup Group for Chicago Film Actors
Illinois Theatre - State wide directory of auditions, info, and news
League of Chicago Theatres – Production Listings, Chicago Theatre news, Job Postings, and more
Chicago Shakespeare Theater - Chicago Shakespeare Theater News and Listings
Chicago Artist Resource Theatre Page - Event Listings, Job Postings, and more
Backstage - News, Articles, and Job Postings
Theatre Mania - Database of current productions in the US
Theatre Communications Group - Events, Publications, Grants, Job Postings, etc
Actors Fund - Services and Programs for Performing Artists
New Dramatists - Professional Organization for Playwrights
National Performance Network - Funding Organizations and Services for the performing artists
Sag-Aftra Union - Actor’s Union
Actor’s Equity (AEA) - Actor’s Union
Director’s Guild of America - Film & Television Director’s Guild
Writer’s Guild (WGA) -Film & Television Writer’s Guild
Live Design - Theatre Tech Resource with Industry Articles and Event Information
Playbill - News, Production, and Job Listings
Bonnie Gillespie – Blog focused on self-management for actors
• Site for posting your head shots, resumes, and bios used internationally by casting directors
• Site for posting your head shots, resumes, and bios. It also posts casting calls.
• National listing of auditions and casting calls
• Event Listings, Job Postings, and more
• Casting Calls for Chicago Theatre
• Casting Calls for Chicago Theatre
• Job Postings for Chicago Theatres
• Chicago Artist Resource Job Postings for Theatre in Chicago
• Technical Theatre, Management, and Production Job Postings
• News, Production, and Job Listings
• Casting Calls
Acting for the Camera – Tony Barr Book, aimed at Theatre actors looking to explore acting in film and television
Acting Professionally: Raw Facts about Careers in Acting – Robert Cohen and James Calleri, A guide discussing career positioning, agents, auditioning, and decision making
How to Run a Theater – Jim Volz, A great read for anyone interested in the management side of Theater.
Self Management for Actors (Bonnie Gillespie)