UTK Department of Theatre

College of Arts & Sciences

Bachelor of Arts in Theatre

Department of Theatre Undergraduate Student Handbook

What is Theatre?

Theatre is a living art. Theatre is storytelling at its most magical. Theatre is reality. Theatre is fantasy. Theatre is the expression of the human condition in its myriad forms throughout history. Theatre is experimentation. Theatre is problem-solving, and Theatre is fun. Theatrical presentations are events involving a collaborative process between playwrights, actors, directors, scenic designers, costume designers, lighting designers, sound designers, technicians, dramaturgs, historians and audiences. The theatrical event can be entertaining, evocative, provocative and/or educational. But whatever its form or substance, theatre is always a living, dynamic collaboration between artists and audiences.

Career Opportunities in Theatre

The theatre world is an ever changing playground of ideas and art in motion. Careers in this field, though challenging at times, are never dull. The typical image of a career in theatre is one in which the actor moves to New York and embarks on a Broadway stage career, but this is only one option for one aspect of theatre.

There are many positions in Theatre: Actor, Director, Set Designer, Costume Designer, Lighting Designer, Sound Designer, Technical Director, Producer, Choreographer, Dancer, Singer, Musical Director, Dialect Coach, Fight Choreographer, Stage Manager, General Manager, Playwright, Dramaturg, Artistic Director, Managing Director, Production Manager, Special Effects Designer, Makeup and Hair Designer, Technician/Artisan (sets, lights, costumes, sound, and props), Marketing Director, Development Director, Company Manager, Box Office, Patron Services, Casting Agent, and many others.

There are many cultural centers of traditional Theatre: Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis, Seattle, Atlanta, and Louisville to name a few. Non-traditional outlets for Theatre are found in the more encompassing arena of film, television, theme parks, industrial/trade shows, computer animation, themed entertainment, and education. This is a large and growing industry that can be found in every city. From Las Vegas to Buffalo, Portland Maine to Portland Oregon, there are excellent opportunities in theatre-related fields.

Many companies across the United States have internship and apprentice programs for the beginning theatre artist. Placement in the field for designers, technicians, artisans, and managers is almost 100 percent. There is in fact currently a shortage of trained people to fill these positions. The placement numbers for performers is less than that of most of the other areas. Many actors do not find “steady work” in their chosen field. Many actors may work in theatre management or production and perform when opportunities arise. However a motivated actor will almost always find a way to create a career in the business. Whether on stage or behind the scenes, a career in Theatre brings an exciting life of problem solving, exploration and creativity.

High School Preparation

The best preparation for the beginning theatre artist is a broad base of knowledge and understanding in many areas including all the arts, literature, history, culture, sciences and communication. Add a dash of passion and you’re on your way!

Contribute to a big idea. Give to the Department of Theatre.


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Knoxville, Tennessee 37996 | 865-974-1000
The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System