Repertory companies employ actors for a season, during which they perform in a number of different plays, each running for two or three weeks.
Commercial theatre companies produce plays or musicals, often for long runs in London's West End, as well as tours.
Fringe theatre companies are small companies on tight budgets. They may specialise in a niche area of theatre or performance, or focus on work from a specific era or by a particular playwright. Some aim to take performances to people who might not normally have access to larger productions. They perform in a variety of places, including venues such as community centres, church halls and public gardens. Some are run as cooperatives.
Theatre in education (TiE) companies tour schools, using drama to educate children. Productions are linked to the national curriculum and include workshops that follow up the main learning points. Children’s theatre companies with a less educational aim also tour schools and other venues to entertain children. An up-to-date Disclosure and Barring Service check is likely to be very important for actors looking to work in this area and a teaching qualification and/or experience may be beneficial.
Youth theatres engage with young people in adult-led theatre activities, outside the formal education system.
Film, television and radio companies employ actors to work on particular productions. Contracts usually range from a day to several months. As few films are made in this country, this type of work is limited.
Actors may also be employed to appear in promotional or training videos or to participate in corporate training events, where they might facilitate role-play activities for staff.
The internet is a growth area for acting, either through 'viral' marketing videos or extra online content related to films and TV programmes. Some video games include acting opportunities using 'motion capture' technology.
Museums, heritage organisations and tour companies increasingly employ actors as living history interpreters, which may involve role-playing a character from history and talking to visitors.
It is essential to be proactive and establish a network of contacts, as few vacancies are advertised. Use directories such as the British Performing Arts Yearbook and Contacts to research relevant companies. You can also use Contacts to research agents and casting directors. For an emerging actor, performing at showcases and major festivals such as the Edinburgh Festival Fringe can be highly valuable, as directors and casting agents tend to visit these events.
The Production and Casting Report provides information on organisations that are about to start casting roles in theatre, television and film. Equity provides good information on finding work as an extra. Most professional actors have an entry in Spotlight , the UK's most popular casting directory.
It is worth noting that the format of an actor’s CV is different to that for more conventional jobs. As well as a list of the actor’s production credits and details of any special skills (such as languages, horse riding or stage combat skills), it also includes a 'headshot' - a head and shoulders picture, usually in black and white.
This website is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with CSS enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets if you are able to do so.