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Getting a Job in the Theatre Industry

By Imogen Sarre

At first glance, this lengthy post seems as intimidating as getting into the theatre industry itself. So that at least some people read what's at the bottom, please find a nice summary of the main points so you can merrily roll along to an appropriate section:

Theatre Internships Work experience

Introduction: why choose a career in theatre?

How to get a job in theatre: general tips


Understanding the variety of off-stage career options open to you:

Introduction: why choose a career in theatre?

From the outside, the theatre working world can feel an impenetrable one - obtuse, unfamiliar, and cliquey. So why should you choose to work in theatre?

1) The people. Everyone's shared love for theatre, the closeness of the industry, and the fact that all theatre is a fundamentally collaborative effort, generates a friendly and supportive working environment.

2) The variety: of people you come across; of work you do; of opportunities available; of productions you'll be involved with.

3) The industry's thriving - both artistically and commercially - in the UK. That's not to say that cuts to the arts aren't taking their toll, but attendance and interest are high, creative output is impressive, and the business is driven by enthusiasm and a surprisingly entrepreneurial spirit.

4) You like your job. Everyone always wants to hear about your job. Don't under-estimate the satisfaction derived from either.

How to get a job in theatre?

No one's going to hide it: it's tricky to get to get jobs in theatre. Employees are rigorous about needing specific experience and there's a lot of competition for every position. Work experience and internships are obviously the best way forward because they build up your CV and, if you make a positive impact on your employer, like the working environment, and are lucky enough for a job to turn up at the right sort of time, they're the best chance you have of getting yourself future work. But you stand a much better chance of hitting the ground running if you're proactive about meeting people and getting as much experience as possible:

  • Talk to everyone you can: try and meet people at events, stay in touch with anyone you like, and ask anyone and everyone for advice (don't be shy - people like sharing their words of wisdom).

  • See/read lots of plays: it indicates enthusiasm about theatre and people are bound to ask you what you've seen recently.

  • Work or volunteer Front of House: it's a great opportunity to meet others in the theatre industry, get some experience and find out about opportunities on the ground.

  • Try and get involved in any productions or events you can: volunteering opportunities are often advertised on the websites displayed in the 'Other useful theatre career related resources' section below.

Theatre Work Experience case study

Can you do Work Experience with ATG?

A resounding YES!
If you live in London...

Even if we say so ourselves, we offer superb "West End Work in Theatre" courses over the Easter Holidays and Summer Holidays. You'll get an insight into the behind-the-scenes work in a West End theatre, from box office, ushering and front of house, to lighting, stage door, stage management, theatre management and producing.

Theatre work placement

If you live further afield...

Most of our regional venues host work experience placements, with participants benefiting from exposure to various theatre departments (including areas such as ticketing, marketing and customer hospitality) as well as getting the opportunity to chat to and shadow theatre professionals. (NB: most of our venues don't have costume, make-up, production or stage management departments in house, so to get experience in these areas you'd need to contact a producing theatre).

To register your interest for Work Experience, visit the Work Experience page for your theatre through ATG's Creative Learning website. Many of our venues hold additional events to introduce young people to offstage careers, or visit local schools and give workshops and talks, so do also keep your eyes peeled for that.

How about internship schemes or apprenticeships?

ATG's 3 month paid office internship

Applications for ATG's 3 month paid office internship are next open mid-2016.

Having personally graduated from ATG's office internship scheme into a job at ATG, I hope that the enthusiasm with which I now shine forth its glories is taken as sincerely as it is given:

  • Payment: The fact it is paid does automatically set it apart from pretty much every other theatre internship programme in London, but payment doesn't only help you survive the daily Oyster-deduction on the tube, face down your parents' anxieties about the turbulence of the theatre industry, and provide those living outside London with the very real possibility of actually being able to make the move to the big smoke. It also instils a very real sense of your value to the organisation that has mutual benefits. It means you're given real tasks, treated as a real employee, and get real office experience.

  • Variety: from all the internship schemes I've looked at, hand on heart I have yet to find another one that gives you such a broad overview of the wide range of the roles that contribute to the commercial theatre industry. You spend 3 weeks getting an insight into Retail, Property, Health & Safety and Environmental concerns at ATG's venues, 3 weeks with the Ticketing, Revenue Management and Digital arms, and 7 weeks in the creative powerhouse, with Production, Programming, Casting, Marketing and Creative Learning.

  • Career-focused: Ultimately, you want a couple of things from an internship: tangible employer-friendly experience that's going to help out your CV, and a better understanding of the direction you should take next in your job hunt. ATG's internship exposes you to a vast number of people and possible jobs, as well as giving you CV-useful office experience. It is also accompanied by superb mentoring, career advice and the very real possibility of a job.

  • The next round of recruitment for our office internship will be advertised on the Careers section of our website.

    Other ATG internships

    Other opportunities across ATG include internships in our Accounts Head Office in Woking, with Sonia Friedman Productions, First Family Entertainment, and at our Glasgow, Brighton, Bromley, Richmond, York and Stoke venues, as well as a couple of others which run on a more ad hoc basis dependent on department requirements. Please keep checking the Careers section of our website for advertisements.


    Working in partnership with City Gateway, ATG offers year long apprenticeships in Revenue Management within the Ticketing arm of the company, and another one working in IT. Working with North Hertfordshire College, White Light Ltd and the Association of British Theatre Technicians ATG pilots a groundbreaking technical apprenticeship programme from September 2013 for a year. Four apprentice theatre technicians will be based at ATG's regional receiving houses, will benefit from training and work experience with partner organisations, and will gain the EDI Level 2 Certificate in Technical Theatre Support.

    Graduate Schemes

    ATG's groundbreaking pilot scheme will begin with two Graduates joining the company in September 2014. ATG seeks to nurture exceptional young leaders in theatre management and administration, equipping them for managerial positions across its departments, to create an excellent workforce from the roots up. The programme will last two years with a broad range of placements in the first year to develop a strong business foundation, followed by specialist placements in the second year.  There's lots more information about ATG's graduate scheme on this blog post, plus the chance to sign up to the mailing list and check out some FAQs here.

    Other useful theatre career related resources

    All the websites below are fantastic resources, but also check out A Younger Theatre's helpful compilation of alternative London theatre internship schemes for some ideas. Bear in mind that lots of theatres only publish openings on their own website, so it's worth regularly checking them.  Find ATG's recruitment opportunities here.

    Understanding the variety of off-stage career options open to you

    Crazy days: you can work in the theatre and NOT be an actor. Often, working backstage or in arts management seems to imply that you harbour secret fantasies of having your name up in big sparkly lights. Far from it, far from it: although an interest in theatre is pretty key, what you like about it and the skill set you need for it can be as varied as you like. Whether you like working with your hands or being up and about on your feet all day, are artistic or organised, enjoy people management or dealing with customers, thrive on variety or administration, or simply like the smell of a theatre and the magic of making a production happen, the job diversity out there - even in this very small sector - is heartening.

    Get Into Theatre outlines most of the possible theatre career routes you can take, with handy job-getting tips plus job explanations and specific advice from theatre experts. From the cast to the creatives, the people who work backstage to make the production actually happen every night to the arts management lot, just realising quite how many options there are out there is a pretty good start. Here's a selection of the jobs available to you, but don't forget about fundraising, ticketing, general management, arts education, HR, IT, or accounting roles:

    Theatre Career Routes

    Finding out about theatre options while you're still at school

    While you're still at school (or, frankly, even after you've left it), we can't recommend enough the importance of doing as much theatre-related stuff as possible. We have a big flowery bunch of Creative Learning schemes to help get you hooked on the wonder that is the theatre industry:

      To get involved in theatre production, we have:
    • Youth theatre groups
    • Classes
    • Amateur productions
    • Holiday workshops, with Stage Experience topping the list as a summer-fun programme that allows people to perform in, or work backstage on, productions led by professional creative teams.

    We also hold lots of special projects around the UK, and our Creative Learning officers offer career days and workshops...

    • e.g. at the end of February 2013, we're partnering The BRIT school in Croydon, South London, to lead a day of mock interviews and other such delights.


    Please don't be put off by the fact that theatre doesn't fit neatly into the classic job mould, or how overwhelming the first foray into the mire of options might feel. It's all too easy to let your dream job - that all-elusive one that is just waiting to fit perfectly into your skill set and interests - be the one that got away. And as much as it's about being in the right place at the right time, it's also about taking the right steps to make that luck happen.

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