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Arts & Communications Pathway

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Performing Arts

What Theatre Performers Do

Theatre is a collaborative form of fine art that uses live performers to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place. The performers may communicate this experience to the audience through combinations of gesture, speech, song, music or dance. The technical aspects of theatrical production are described collectively as “stagecraft.” This includes, but is not limited to, the construction and rigging of scenery, the hanging and focusing of lighting, the design and procurement of costumes, make-up, sourcing of props, stage management, and recording and mixing of sound.

Work Environment

Work hours for theatre performers are long and irregular. Evening, weekend and holiday work is common. Few theatre performers work full time, and many have variable schedules. Those who work in theater may travel with a touring show across the country.

How to Become a Theatre Performer

Many actors enhance their skills through formal dramatic training. Especially in theater, many actors have a bachelor’s degree, although it is not required. Actors usually learn some of their skills on the job; therefore, long-term training is common.


The median hourly wage of actors was $17.44 in May 2010.

Job Outlook

Employment of actors is projected to grow 4 percent from 2010 to 2020, slower than the average for all occupations.

Quick Facts: Theatre Performers
2010 Median Pay $17.44 per hour
Entry-Level Education Some college, no degree
On-the-job Training Long-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2010 66,500
Job Outlook, 2010-20 4% growth rate

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