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Careers In Culture

Live Performing Arts - What You Need to Do

Work Search Strategies

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Interested in performing? Tips to better auditions

Performers usually have to audition in order to get work. Producers and directors often want to try out many people before finding the one they think is right for their production. Auditions are never easy. No matter how confident they feel, most performers find auditioning stressful. However, you can learn attitudes and develop techniques that will help you hone your auditioning skills.

Tips to Better Auditions

Want to be a Performer?
Research the company Do some research into the type of company you are seeking work in and thee artistic direction, and design your performance with that in mind. Contact professional organizations for advice on auditioning.

Consider auditions as performances
Auditions require as much preparation and energy as actual performances. Don't skimp because it isn't the 'Teal thing.. Do the best that you can do.

Master your material
Whether you're going to perform a text, song, dance or acrobatic feat, make sure you have prepared your lines or movements. When ycu know that you have the material under control, you'll feel more confident, posed and positive.

Be ready physically and mentally
Auditions require your top performing and concentration skills. Beng tense and nervous may stop you from doing your best. Know how to prepare by using relaxation and warm-up techniques.

Be cool
If you flub a lyric or make a mistake, just keep gang. Chances are, if it's a minor mistake, nobody will notice. Even if its a major screw-up, stay cool. Your reaction to a mistake says as much about you as themistake itself.

Be yourself
You're not being judged solely on your perfamance. If you get the job, these people oil have to work with you. They want to know what kind of a person you are. So relax, and have some fun.

Be persistent and resilient
Audition often. The more you do it, the more comfortable you're going to be with the process. Another tip — do mock auditions in front of your fiends. Getting turned down for a job is often not a reflection of your auditioning ability. There can be other forces at work. Maybe it's an image thing. Maybe you're as good as the other actors or dancers that auditioned, but the director had her heart set on somebody with a multiple piercings. Dont worry, you'll have another chance.

Be realistic
You won't get most of the parts you try out for, but if you were well prepared and did your best, then consider your audition as another chance to perform, gain experience and become visible.

How to Audition and Find Audition Opportunities

Use your network to talk to experienced people. Ask directors and casting agents what they look for. Talk to other performers and try to learn from their experiences and techniques. Consider taking courses in auditioning if you feel you could use more guidance. The more practice you have, the more skilled you will be.

News about auditions is often spread by word of mouth. Canadian Actors' Equity Association (often just called “Equity”) posts general auditions on their website. Union des artistes (UDA) can help you find an audition coach. And you can find other great resources and information by researching some of the organizations listed on UDA’s website.

The best way to find out about audition opportunities is to get involved with people in your field of interest and build your personal connections. Join appropriate unions or professional associations, and take advantage of their professional development and networking opportunities. And don't forget to live up to your responsibilities as a member of these organizations.

What about agents?

Generally, agents are hard to find. They are looking for clients who work in a variety of media. Agents play a key role in the industry, but most are looking to represent well-established, multi-faceted performers. Nonetheless, agents do go to booking conferences, plays and other performances to scout talent, and may hope to find just the right new client: you!

If performing is your career path, and you want an agent, then you'll need to make yourself visible. Volunteer in student films, perform in live productions and make a demo of your best work. If you belong to a union, and are looking for extra experience by volunteering, check to make sure you are adhering to their performer regulations. When you do find an agent interested in representing you, make sure you talk to people in the industry to find out his/her reputation and if he/she would be the best agent to represent you.

The cover letter

If you’re a creator such as a choreographer, playwright or screenwriter, you will be developing original work to sell to live performing arts companies. Your original creation will be your “calling card” to getting work. But if you're a performer, behind-the-scenes worker or arts administrator/manager, a cover letter and résumé will be an important part of your work search package.

Sample Cover Letter

Make sure your letter supplies information so you can be reached easily.

Your name
Street address
City, province/territory Postal code
Telephone: (area code) phone number
E-mail: e-mail@address


Address your cover letter to the right person, spelled correctly, even if it means a phone call to the company. Employers are interested in candidates who show initiative.

Their name
Their job title
Their company name
Street address
City, province/territory, Postal code

Indicate the specific position you're applying for, or the type of contract work or assignment you're seeking.

Dear name,
I am pleased to apply for the position of ensemble player in repertory theatre company, as advertised in the Fairfax Courier on June 3, 2006.

Indicate the specific position you're applying for, or the type of contract work or assignment you're seeking.

I am familiar with the performing arts community through my volunteer and summer employment experiences and would enjoy working for an organization such as the Fairfax Repertory Theatre Company, well known for its excellent productions and great casts.

Explain your interest in the position/work and in the organization

As my attached résumé illustrates, I have many years experience working as an amateur actor, but have recently been landing professional roles. I would love to have an opportunity to work with your company. I would especially love the challenge of staging more than one production at a time.

Request an interview and say that you will follow up with a phone call.

I would be pleased to review my qualifications in more detail with you. If I haven't heard from you by June 12, I will call to follow up. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to call me.

Yours truly,

Your name

Cover Letter Tips

  • Have your name and address at the top.
  • Be brief—one page only.
  • Make sure there are no typos or spelling mistakes.
  • If writing is not your strong point, ask an editor or a friend to review your letter.

The performer's résumé

Under the Spotlight

People who hire performers are looking for experience and physical types to fit certain roles. Usually your résumé should be presented on your agent’s letterhead, with your agent’s name included as part of your contact information. Keep your résumé to one page, if possible, and include an 8" x 11" black-and-white photo of you taken by a professional photographer.

Indicate your physical type.

Your name
Height: 5'10"
Weight: 170 lbs.
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Brown

Be sure to include your agent's name (his or her contact information will be on the letterhead).

Contact: (your agent's name)

If you've had a lead or principal role, indicate that information rather than naming the character.

Film and Television Roles
The Crazy Troubadour
Jason/Underhill Film Works
Falling Stones
Sam/Underhill Film Works
That Summer
Ken/Statten Tagalong Films

State your role, the name of the movie or video and the production company.

Audio-visual Productions
Moving the Mail
Postal worker/Greenlight Productions Inc.
Tambourine Taco Commercial
Diner/Truesdale Advertising Agency

Indicate your education and training, including the names of your teachers.

On-camera workshop: Betty Dutton
Stage Combat: Phillip Morgan
Dance: Brenda Canton, Morley Karr, Patrick Lambert
Movement: Ted Weelde, Elaine Farley-Smith
Singing: Fran Triber, Marshall Stiele
B.A. Honours in English and Film Studies: University of British Columbia

Other interests: Pop singing, tennis, fencing, swimming

Résumé for a behind-the-scenes worker

A High-Exposure Résumé

Employers want to know what type of experience you've had, whether as a professional worker or a volunteer. Keep your résumé brief – one to two pages – and make sure it is neat, free of typos and well formatted.

Include information that can help an employer reach you.

Madeline Hamka
3269 York Avenue
Regina, Saskatchewan V2I 7K0
Telephone: (306) 555-2315

Let employers know the specific types of technical experience that you've had.

Work Experience
Sept. 2008 - Aug. 2009 Lighting Technician
VHRQ Television
Provided lighting for ON-AIR
July 2008 - June 2008 Shop and Lighting Technician
Samson Lights
Provided lighting for hotel conferences
December 2007 Lighting Technician
West End Community Theatre
Provided lighting for production of 'Twas
the Night Before Christmas
Sept. 2005 - May 2007 Lighting Designer / Technician
West End High School
Designed and provided lighting for six
concerts and three drama productions

Show other types of work you've done that relate to your career path.

Other experience
Automated lighting programming
Inventory stocking and cleaning of shop lighting equipment

Indicate your education and specialized training.

High school diploma. West End High School
Specialized workshops in photography
Specialized course in computer-aided theatrical lighting

Other interests
Guitar, basketball, hiking

References upon request

Résumé for an arts administrator

Right On Target

Highlight your career objective in arts administration/management and your related work or volunteer experience. Make sure that your résumé reflects your professionalism. Keep it short, neat and free of typos or spelling errors.

Include information that can help an employer reach you.

Lewis Wong
650 Markham Place
Etobicoke, Ontario M5G 2B8
Telephone: (416) 555-0127

Tell the employer about your career aspirations.

Career Objective
To combine my interest in theatre with my business skills to build a lifelong career in theatre arts administration.

Summarize your specific work experiences in your field of interest.

Theatre Work Experience
Etobicoke Summer Theatre Festival - administrative assistant to the Festival Director
Etobicoke Community Theatre - box office manager and assistant props handler
Sir Wilfrid Laurier High School Drama Society - president and fund-raiser. Also producer of annual school revue
Toronto Dinner Theatre - publicity assistant in co-op school placement

Show other types of work you've done

Other Work Experience
Retail salesperson, High Top Sporting Goods
House sitter for five regular clients

Indicate other specialized skills that would be useful in an arts administrative position.

2006 - Present
Arts administration program
Monroe University
2002 - 2006
High school diploma
Sir Wilfrid Laurier High School

Show other skills that you have that are relevant to the arts administration position.

Other Skills
Software expertise in word-processing, database and computer graphics programs
Internet and E-mail proficiency

Interests: Reading, going to theatre and films, skiing

References upon request