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Theatre - Acting

  • Overview
  • Careers
  • New Freshmen
  • New Transfer
  • Illinois State Students

Welcome to the Acting sequence at Illinois State University! This is where your amazing journey to become a professional actor begins. Under the hands-on mentoring and rigorous demands of the professional acting faculty you will be challenged to become citizens of the world and courageous theatre artists. Opportunities to hone your craft on the stage are numerous, and we pride ourselves on providing training to prepare you for a life in the theatre or wherever your life leads. Join in the excitement of the Acting program in the School of Theatre and Dance, where we play boldly.

Why Study Theatre - Acting?

Theatre is performed everywhere – on Broadway in New York City, in shows that travel around the country, in professional regional theaters in large cities, in community theaters in small towns, in school or even in the streets. People who have trained in theatre may also have the opportunity to work in movies and on television. There are additional professional jobs beyond being an actor; usually a theatre or movie production consists of a few actors and many backstage production personnel. A theatre major provides the background for all such jobs.

Related Majors

Being Successful in the Field

  • Network: Talk with people working in the field to find out about jobs and opportunities.
  • Read newspapers and periodicals related to the theater to keep up with new developments. Read the "trades," magazines and newspapers that report events in the entertainment industry. Read the "Theater" section of daily newspapers to find out about upcoming productions.
  • Get your foot in the door and get involved with productions in any way you can. Be prepared to do various tasks assigned by stage managers or producers.
  • Be prepared to move to a metropolitan area where more opportunities exist.
  • Theater helps students develop verbal and written communication, public speaking, and teamwork skills. These transferable skills are valued by many types of employers.
  • Volunteer with fundraising efforts for the arts.
  • Complete an internship or an apprenticeship with a local theater. Participate in summer stock.
  • Be aware of scams. Check out the legitimacy of agencies and companies before paying any fees.
  • Join professional groups as an opportunity to make contacts.
  • A career in the arts takes patience, dedication, and luck! Have a back-up plan.
  • Be aware that the unemployment rate for actors hovers around 85%. Develop skills that qualify you for other jobs while you wait for opportunities in acting. Consider pairing theater with another career interest or major to open up more job opportunities.
  • There are many ways to be involved in the theater while pursuing other career options.

Related Fields

Performing

Employers

  • Community theaters
  • Regional theaters
  • Commercial theaters
  • Summer stock theaters
  • Dinner theaters
  • Children's theaters
  • University theater groups
  • Touring companies
  • Industrial shows
  • Show groups
  • Amusement and theme parks
  • Television/film studios
  • Radio stations

Strategies

  • Participate in acting workshops, courses, and seminars to get advice and experience and to make contacts with others in the field.
  • Join unions or actors' guilds to stay abreast of opportunities and developments in the field. Get as much acting experience as possible.
  • Perform in school productions, community theater, summer stock, etc. to hone acting skills.
  • Prepare a professional resume that lists your acting experience.
  • Have your resume attached to or printed on the reverse side of an 8" x 10" photograph of yourself.
  • Be prepared to make the rounds.
  • Distribute your resume to numerous agencies and offices.
  • Follow up with several personal visits.
  • Be aware that more opportunities exist in large cities such as New York and Los Angeles.
  • Learn about the entertainment industry as a whole: Take courses on entertainment law, business, management, etc.
  • An extensive network of contacts is essential.
  • Get to know people working in your field and related areas.

Directing

  • Direction
  • Technical Direction
  • Casting
  • Stage Management
  • Support Staff

Employers

  • Theaters
  • Television/film studios

Strategies

  • Participate in the Director's Guild Training Program.
  • Develop leadership skillsthrough participation in campus and community organizations.
  • Experience with fund-raising is important.
  • Volunteer to do this with local theaters and arts councils.
  • Learn what types of permits and insurance are needed to film or perform in certain areas.
  • Volunteer with directors in local theaters to become familiar with the environment.
  • Serving as an assistant is a great way to get started in this area.
  • Gain directing experience by participating in college productions.

Behind the Scenes

  • Set Design/Construction
  • Property Design
  • Lighting Design
  • Sound Design
  • Costume Design
  • Camera Operation
  • Hair/Make-up
  • Special Effects
  • Wardrobe
  • Prop Management
  • Broadcast Technology
  • Riggers
  • Electricians

Employers

  • Community theaters
  • Regional theaters
  • Commercial theaters
  • Summer stock theaters
  • Dinner theaters
  • Children's theaters
  • University theater groups
  • Touring companies
  • Industrial shows
  • Show groups
  • Amusement and theme parks
  • Television/film studios
  • Radio stations

Strategies

  • Learn to work well in a team.
  • Develop a sense of artistry and creativity.
  • Become involved in the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE).
  • This organization can give you information about becoming an apprentice as well as help you make valuable contacts.
  • Get experience. Offer your services to school and local theaters.
  • Read industry magazines and books to learn about your area.
  • For sound design: Become familiar with computer technology as digital sound effects and electronic music replace traditional means of sound design.
  • For costume design: Supplement your program with courses in art history and fashion design.
  • Learn about different eras in history in order to recreate on stage.
  • A basic knowledge of history and architecture is helpful.

Writing

  • Playwriting
  • Screenwriting
  • Journalism
  • Publicity (Press Agents)
  • Research

Employers

  • Theaters
  • Television/film studios
  • Television stations
  • Magazines
  • Newspapers
  • Freelance

Strategies

  • Review plays, movies, and TV shows for school or local newspaper.
  • Theatrical press agents publicize and promote theatrical productions.
  • They write press releases, arrange press conferences, and other media events.
  • Take courses in related areas such as public relations, advertising, and business.
  • Reporters spend time on the set absorbing everything.
  • They interview actors as well as craftspeople.
  • Get as much writing experience as possible: Write for the college newspaper, enter play writing contests, etc.
  • See many different productions and shows.
  • Read variety of scripts to see how scripts are developed.
  • Researchers gather information for movie writers.
  • They may also track down photographs or historical documents to make the film more authentic.

Business

  • Producing
  • Management
  • Agents
  • Marketing
  • Fundraising and Development
  • Coordination of Volunteers
  • Administration of Arts Programs
  • Box Office Sales

Employers

  • Theaters
  • Arts councils
  • Television/film studios

Strategies

  • Secretarial/clerical positions in theaters and studios are often stepping-stones to other positions and a good way to make contacts.
  • Take business courses to supplement your program.
  • Obtain a working knowledge of computers.
  • Gain a thorough understanding of theater.
  • Develop skills in leadership, negotiation, budgeting, and fundraising.

Education

  • Teaching

Employers

  • Public and private schools
  • Colleges and universities
  • Performing arts centers

Strategies

  • Obtain certification for the state in which you wish to teach.
  • Obtain dual certification for more teaching opportunities.
  • Get experience in various areas of theater, as well as working with young people.
  • Obtain a graduate degree to teach on the college level.
  • Develop one or two areas of expertise within theater arts.

Other Professions

  • Actor/Actress
  • Advertising/Marketing Manager
  • Booking Agent-Resort Industries
  • Campaign Director
  • Children’s Theatre Director
  • Community Affairs Liaison
  • Convention Director
  • Costume Designer
  • Costume Shop Supervisor
  • Development Officer
  • Director, Tourism
  • Events Coordinator
  • Fashion Merchandiser
  • Fund Raiser
  • Journalist
  • Lighting Designer
  • Minister/Clergy
  • Museum Manager
  • Non-Profit Arts Manager
  • Professor/Theatre
  • Props Designer
  • Puppeteer
  • Recreational Supervisor
  • Sales Rep-Theatre Industry
  • Scriptwriter
  • Set Designer
  • Set Designer Specialist
  • Sound Designer
  • Stage Manager
  • Stunt Performer
  • Teacher (HS/College)
  • Technical Theatre Manager
  • Theatre Company Manager
  • Theatre Educator
  • Theatre Manager
  • Travel Guide
  • Voiceover Artist
  • Universal Information Specialist

Career Advising

Name Office Email Phone
Mark Fauble  110 Student Services Building  mbfaubl@ilstu.edu  (309) 438-5825 

Internship Coordinator

Name Office Email Phone
Cyndee Brown  Centenial West 201 H  clbrown3@ilstu.edu  (309) 438-5692 

Applying to Illinois State

Illinois State's preferred filing period for freshman students for the fall semester is September 1-November 15. Applying early is encouraged, as the University must limit enrollment due to space at the University and in specific majors/programs. Visit the Office of Admissions to apply today!

Program Requirements

Prepare two contrasting monologues. Total time for both monologues combined should be approximately two minutes (you will not be timed).

  • Each audition piece should consist of a single character speaking. Auditions must be memorized.
  • There will be a chair for you to use if you choose.
  • At the beginning of the audition, state your name, the title of your pieces, and the characters you are playing.
  • Do not explain the plot unless instructed to do so by the interviewer.
  • Bring a current resume and a headshot (or a recent photo that shows "who you are") to your audition.

Audition Tips

Choice of Material

  • Choose something you like.
  • Choose age-appropriate material.
  • Avoid self-written monologues.
  • Make sure the character is in conflict!
  • Cut material to fit easily into the two-minute time limit (including transitions between monologues).
  • Examples of contrasting monologues are: dramatic/comic, contemporary/classic, sophisticated/unsophisticated, urban/rural, manic/depressed, etc.
  • A classical piece is not required.
  • Know the character you are playing. For example Laura in The Glass Menagerie is NOT extroverted; Oscar in The Odd Couple IS a slob.

Avoid

  • Yelling
  • Screaming
  • Using dialects
  • Phone call monologues
  • Climax of the play
  • Sexually explicit or extremely offensive material

Appearance

  • Dress comfortably, but strive to make a good impression.
  • Keep hair away from your face.
  • Wear sensible shoes. No flip flops or extremely high heels!
  • Avoid jewelry that is distracting, such as clanging earrings or bracelets.

Performing Your Monologues

  • Remember that your audition begins with your entrance.
  • Use the introduction to let us get to know you—speak clearly and take command of the room!
  • Place your imaginary scene partner directly downstage from you, over our heads.
  • Don't speak to a chair—it will cause you to focus on the floor.
  • Don't rush the audition transitions. Allow yourself time to transition—after the introduction, between the pieces, and before you say "Thank you."
  • Concentrate on pursuing what you want from your imaginary scene partner.             
  • Finally, do not try to make an impression or give us what you think we want. Be yourself!

Deadlines and Review Dates

Students are accepted into the Acting major within the School of Theatre and Dance on a rolling basis, contingent on admission by Illinois State University. Normally students are notified within two weeks whether or not they have passed their audition.

Audition Dates for Fall 2017

Saturday, November 5 (Illinois State University)
Friday/Saturday, November 18/19 (North Texas Drama Auditions)
Friday, January 6 (Illinois High School Theatre Festival)
Saturday, January 21 (Looking Glass Theatre, Chicago)
Saturday, February 18 (Illinois State University)
Friday, March 31 (Illinois State University)
*School of Theatre and Dance scholarship awards are announced after March 1. You will automatically be considered for a scholarship at all auditions except for the final audition date on March 31. 

School of Theatre and Dance scholarship awards are announced after March 1.

Plan of Study

This information is based on requirements for the academic year(s) indicated. Students should consult the catalog year they were admitted under for their academic requirements.

Applying to Illinois State

Program Requirements

Students must apply to Illinois State University prior to auditioning for the Acting major within the School of Theatre and Dance.

The School of Theatre and Dance applies the same academic standards as those required for admission to Illinois State University. There is no separate ACT or Grade Point Average requirement for admission to the School of Theatre and Dance.

All applicants to the Acting major must audition. Your audition also counts as your School of Theatre and Dance scholarship interview.

  • Prepare two contrasting monologues. Total time for both monologues combined should be approximately two minutes (you will not be timed).
  • Each audition piece should consist of a single character speaking. Auditions must be memorized.
  • There will be a chair for you to use if you choose.
  • At the beginning of the audition, state your name, the title of your pieces, and the characters you are playing.
  • Do not explain the plot unless instructed to do so by the interviewer.
  • Bring a current resume and a headshot (or a recent photo that shows "who you are") to your audition.

Audition Tips

Choice of Material

  • Choose something you like.
  • Choose age-appropriate material.
  • Avoid self-written monologues.
  • Make sure the character is in conflict!
  • Cut material to fit easily into the two-minute time limit (including transitions between monologues).
  • Examples of contrasting monologues are: dramatic/comic, contemporary/classic, sophisticated/unsophisticated, urban/rural, manic/depressed, etc.
  • A classical piece is not required.
  • Know the character you are playing. For example Laura in The Glass Menagerie is NOT extroverted; Oscar in The Odd Couple IS a slob.

Avoid

  • Yelling
  • Screaming
  • Using dialects
  • Phone call monologues
  • Climax of the play
  • Sexually explicit or extremely offensive material

Appearance

  • Dress comfortably, but strive to make a good impression.
  • Keep hair away from your face.
  • Wear sensible shoes. No flip flops or extremely high heels!
  • Avoid jewelry that is distracting, such as clanging earrings or bracelets.

Performing Your Monologues

  • Remember that your audition begins with your entrance.
  • Use the introduction to let us get to know you—speak clearly and take command of the room!
  • Place your imaginary scene partner directly downstage from you, over our heads.
  • Don't speak to a chair—it will cause you to focus on the floor.
  • Don't rush the audition transitions. Allow yourself time to transition—after the introduction, between the pieces, and before you say "Thank you."
  • Concentrate on pursuing what you want from your imaginary scene partner.             
  • Finally, do not try to make an impression or give us what you think we want. Be yourself!

Deadlines and Review Dates

Students are accepted into the Acting major within the School of Theatre and Dance on a rolling basis, contingent on admission by Illinois State University. Normally students are notified within two weeks whether or not they have passed their audition.

Audition Dates for Fall 2017

Saturday, November 5 (Illinois State University)
Friday/Saturday, November 18/19 (North Texas Drama Auditions)
Friday, January 6 (Illinois High School Theatre Festival)
Saturday, January 21 (Looking Glass Theatre, Chicago)
Saturday, February 18 (Illinois State University)
Friday, March 31 (Illinois State University)
*School of Theatre and Dance scholarship awards are announced after March 1. You will automatically be considered for a scholarship at all auditions except for the final audition date on March 31. 

School of Theatre and Dance scholarship awards are announced after March 1.

Minimum GPA

2.00

Middle 50% GPA

2.53 - 3.32

Required Courses

None

Recommended Courses

None

Additional Information

Sequence requires an audition.

Plan of Study

This information is based on requirements for the academic year(s) indicated. Students should consult the catalog year they were admitted under for their academic requirements.

Academic Advising

Name Office Email Phone
Cristen Monson  Centennial West 203  cbmonso@ilstu.edu  (309) 438-3936 

Middle 50% GPA

2.53 - 3.32

Plan of Study

This information is based on requirements for the academic year(s) indicated. Students should consult the catalog year they were admitted under for their academic requirements.

Application Period

Applications are always accepted.

Application Information

Current students can use the Apply to Your Program tool on My.IllinoisState.edu.

Major Requirements

Sequence requires an audition.

Academic Advising

Name Office Email Phone
Cristen Monson  Centennial West 203  cbmonso@ilstu.edu  (309) 438-3936 
2016-08-03T11:23:40.188-05:00 2016
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