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Theatre - Design/Production

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Welcome to the Design/Production sequence at Illinois State University's School of Theatre and Dance! This is where your talent and skills turn into magic on stage. You will create exciting theatrical environments filled with costumes, scenery, lights and sound. We in the Design/Production sequence make it happen in our shops, in the rehearsal hall, and in the classroom. You will have hands-on opportunities to practice your chosen craft and experiment with others you never dreamed of mastering. Join in the fun at the School of Theatre and Dance, where we work boldly.

Why Study Theatre - Design/Production?

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. Participatein 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.
  • Followup with several personal visits.
  • Be aware that more opportunities exist in largecities such as New York and Los Angeles.
  • Learn about the entertainment industryas 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 skills through 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

Students must apply to Illinois State University prior to presenting a portfolio for review for acceptance into the Design/Production 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.

Students who seek entrance into the Design/Production sequence must present a portfolio of their work for review by members of the School of Theatre and Dance faculty. Portfolio materials vary greatly depending upon the applicant’s experience and intended area of interest. Students are encouraged to assemble evidence of their work on prior productions or related projects. Items that may be included are sketch books, paintings, evidence of organization and management, photographs, production programs, drafting, prompt books, and more. Please consider that the faculty is assessing your potential for success in the field as well as your passion for the art. We invite you to share your experience thus far in the admission interview using your portfolio as a guide in that journey. Your interview will also count as your interview for scholarship consideration.

Deadlines and Review Dates

Students are accepted into the Design/Production 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 portfolio review.

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

Portfolio Review and Interview Dates for Fall 2017

Saturday, November 5 
Saturday, January 21 (LookingGlass Theatre, Chicago)
Saturday, February 18
Friday, March 31 (not for scholarship consideration)

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

Preparing Your Portfolio Review

When you come for your portfolio review and interview, please bring:

  • a resume detailing your theatre production experience
  • a recent photo of yourself
  • a "portfolio" of your work, including
    • production photos
    • drawings
    • drafting
    • sketches
    • organizational forms
    • any other audio/visual materials that illustrate your skills.

Quality is more important than quantity. Be prepared to discuss your portfolio with the Design/Production faculty at your interview.

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 presenting a portfolio for review for acceptance into the Design/Production 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.

Students who seek entrance into the Design/Production sequence must present a portfolio of their work for review by members of the School of Theatre and Dance faculty. Portfolio materials vary greatly depending upon the applicant's experience and intended area of interest. Students are encouraged to assemble evidence of their work on prior productions or related projects. Items that may be included are sketch books, paintings, evidence of organization and management, photographs, production programs, drafting, prompt books, and more. Please consider that the faculty is assessing your potential for success in the field as well as your passion for the art. We invite you to share your experience thus far in the admission interview using your portfolio as a guide in that journey. Your interview will also count as your interview for scholarship consideration.

Preparing Your Portfolio Review

When you come for your portfolio review and interview, please bring:

  • a resume detailing your theatre production experience
  • a recent photo of yourself
  • a "portfolio" of your work, including
    • production photos
    • drawings
    • drafting
    • sketches
    • organizational forms
    • any other audio/visual materials that illustrate your skills.

Quality is more important than quantity. Be prepared to discuss your portfolio with the Design/Production faculty at your interview.

Deadlines and Review Dates

Students are accepted into the Design/Production 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 portfolio review.

Portfolio Review and Interview Dates for Fall 2017

Saturday, November 5 
Saturday, January 21 (LookingGlass Theatre, Chicago)
Saturday, February 18
Friday, March 31 (not for scholarship consideration)

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 portfolio review and interview.

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 a Portfolio Review/Interview.

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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