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 numerous centers of traditional theatre: Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis, Seattle, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Louisville, to name a few. And live theatre closely relates to a much larger arena that includes film, television, theme parks, industrial/trade shows, computer animation, themed entertainment, and education. This is a large and growing arts industry that can be found in every city. From New York to Los Angeles, Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon, there are many opportunities in theatre and related professions.

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 a shortage of trained people to fill these positions. Placement for performers is, predictably, much more challenging. Many actors do not find “steady work” as performers. However, motivated actors often find other ways to create a career in the business. Whether on stage or behind the scenes, a career in theatre can offer a rewarding life.

High School Preparation

The best preparation for the beginning theatre artist is a broad base of experience and knowledge, of 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.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Big Orange. Big Ideas.

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