College theater programs do a wonderful job of training young artists in acting, playwriting, directing, design, and technical theater, but many talented artists are unaware of how their theater skills apply to the professional world.
Whether you’re thinking of transitioning into arts administration, need help translating your niche theater skills to another industry, or starting your own theater company and don’t really think of yourself as a “business person,” here are five skills you’ve probably already learned from your theater training.
Articulating a Vision and Bringing it to Life
As an artist, you know how to conceive of an idea in your mind, and translate it into the real world.
For example, a playwright must be able to “show not tell” in their writing, so that actors and directors are able to accurately interpret their words and a director must be able to describe their vision for a production so it makes sense to designers, actors, and technical staff to create a cohesive production.
This can be a huge asset in the workplace because you know how to share your ideas, and you know how to follow through with them.
Working on a Tight Budget
If you’ve worked in the theater, you’ve likely put on a production with a few dollars and some imagination, and that makes you a huge asset to any company.
Every organization, no matter how large or small, is looking to save money, and use what they have in the most efficient way.
Whether a nonprofit stretching every donated dollar, or a private company looking to maximize profit margins, you can tout your theatrical training as a case study in cost-effectiveness.
And don’t forget to mention if you’ve ever managed a budget for a production!
Creative Problem Solving
The combination of tight budgets and high creativity, theater-makers are natural problem-solvers.
How can we animate a savannah of animals on a shoestring budget? What would hip-hop sound like in 1776? How can we set the stage aflame without lighting a match?
Theater creators make the impossible possible and live on stage eight shows a week. Being able to think outside the box, and solve complex problems with elegant solutions will serve you in any role, on or off stage.
Theater is one of the most collaborative artforms, and everyone has a role to play.
To create a production, every artist must pull their own weight but still work collaboratively to create a cohesive final project.
If the costume designer doesn’t source the costumes, the actors have nothing to wear, but if the actors don’t learn their lines, there’s no play to perform anyway.
It’s an interconnected web that is equal parts solitary and interdependent work, and that’s what makes a theater artist an invaluable member of any team.
Time Management and Deadlines
On most projects, it’s easy to get delayed, but in the theater, that is simply not an option.
There’s a reason the oldest saying in theater is “the show must go on,” because when it’s happening live, there’s no stopping.
Opening night is set before the first rehearsal or production meeting, and it’s a deadline that can’t be moved.
Knowing how to work within the confines of a tight deadline, work under pressure, and deliver high-quality work is a skill that can be translated into any project.
At In The Lights, we help artists tell their stories, including how to articulate talents. We hope this guide helps you confidently own and tell your story and share your valuable theatrical skills in any setting.