Careers In Culture
Live Performing Arts - What You Need to Do
What Live Performing Arts People Do
Creating a live performance
Theatre, dance, opera, circus – if you work on a live performance you will be a part of a complex, exciting process involving the collaboration of many talented and skilled people. A big company usually divides the work up among many people. A smaller organization may use one person for several types of work.
Whether you have a desire to be “in the spotlight” or behind the scenes, the live performing arts offers many career opportunities, if you have the right mix of skill sets. For instance, you might want to work as a stage manager in any area of the live performing arts, but you also need to know how to read music in order to work in opera and dance. If you are an actor, you might want an agent or artist manager, whereas dancers sometimes rely on agents rather than artist managers.
The graphic below illustrates the general array of jobs that are available when you choose to work in the live performing arts field, and provides a brief and simple description for each position.
Creating a live performance
Playwright: Creates an original work for the stage.
Choreographer: Creates movement for performances including dance, opera and theatre.
Composer: Creates music for opera, musical theatre and ballet.
Librettist: Creates a story and words for opera, musical theatre and ballet.
Costume designer: Designs the costumes for a film or a theatre performance.
Set designer: Implements the production designer's requirements.
Lighting designer: Creates and oversees lighting effects.
Multi-media designer: Creates and oversees multi-media applications for performances.
Artistic director: Oversees the artistic direction of a performing company or theatre.
General manager: (also called Executive directory Oversees the operations of an arts organization.
Director: Interprets the creator's work and directs the performers and designers.
Dramaturg: Works with playwright or director to develop a script further.
Conductor: Prepares and directs an orchestra for performances.
On Stage Actor: Creates a character in a performance, based on a playwright's dialogue, director's notes, and his/her own interpretation of the role.
Comedian: Performs stand-up or other types of comedic methods, sometimes using his/her own material, or else interprets others' material, guided by extemal direction.
Dancer: Interprets choreographic works, and sometimes creates a character in keeping with a particular role and any director's notes or others' interpretation.
Circus artist: Performs acrobatic and other feats in circus performances and in other works, and sometimes creates a character in keeping with a particular role and any director's notes or others' interpretation.
Musician: Plays a musical instrument to accompany or form an integral part of a performance, based on a musical score, a conductor's direction, and his/her own interpretation of the music.
Vocalist: Sings to accompany or form an integral part of a performance, based on lyrics and a musical score, a conductor's direction, and his/her own interpretation of the music.
Specialty act performer: Performs a particular type of act — such as magician, clown or juggler — often using his/her own material.
Performance artist: Uses time, location, his/her own body, possibly other materials, and the relationship with an audience — perhaps an unwitting audience — to create a work of art, where the performer is the work.
Multi-disciplinary artist: Is able to perform a number of different roles on stage, such as the "triple threat" of acting, singing and dancing.
The following graphic illustrates additional jobs that are available when you choose to work in the live performing arts field, and provides a brief and simple description for each position.
Careers in live performance
Backstage Production manager: Ensures that the work of creative teams is on time and on budget.
Stage manager: Ensures the smooth running of preformances.
Technical director: Oversees set design, lighting and sound.
Set builder/carpenter/painter: Works under the supervision of the set designer to create sets.
Lighting technicians/assistant: Installs, operates and maintains set lighting.
Sound technician/assistant: Amplifies music and operates special sound effects.
Patternmaker/sewer: Creates costume patters and sews them to the costume designers specifications.
Head of wardrobe: Oversees maintenance of costumes during performances.
Dresser/Wardrobe attendant: Makes sum actors are in correct costume for each scene.
Make-up/hair artist: Provides appropriate hair and make-up for performers and maintains actors' hairstyles during performances.
Stagehand: Installs and moves scenery, furniture and props and operates the curtain.
Proper handler/builder/buyer: Places, builds or buys appropriate props for a set.
Warehouse manager: Handles supplies of company's equipment and products.
Front of house manager: Ensures audiences' comfort and safety and oversees ushers.
Box office manager: Monitors availability of seating and oversees ticket sellers.
Ticket sellers: Sells tickets at the box office.
Usher: Ensures that audience members are seated safely and quietly.
Agent: Markets the skills of creators and performers and books engagements.
Artist manager: Supports the career and overall development of individual artists.
Tour manager: Plans every detail for the touring of a particular performance.
Presenter: Brings live performances to his/her community.
Marketing & communications manager: Runs sales campaigns, develops spin-off products and oversees publicity staff.
Fund-raiser/subscription co-ordinator: Raises funds from individuals, foundations and corporate sponsors.
Publicist: Markets the production to the public.