This resource is to help students who are thinking about taking a Vocational Performing Arts course by
giving them a closer look at what the course covers.
It offers a deeper insight into life on a vocational Performing Arts course and the possibilities open to them
once they have completed the course. In order to make this experience as realistic as possible there are
interviews with students and professionals in the Performing Arts business.
The document is divided into 3 sections: The first focuses on information for students considering
embarking on a Performing Arts course; this will tackle frequently asked questions about the vocational
Performing Arts courses. The second gives an insight into what it is like on the course and how to survive.
The third section deals with opportunities that could be available to students once they have completed the
1. Thinking of studying a vocational Performing Arts course?
What it is like to study a Vocational Performing Arts course in post-16 education
FAQ‟s Frequently asked questions about vocational courses in Performing Arts
Interviews with students from The Brit School (Croydon) and Groby Community College
2. What happens on the course?
Examples of projects and how they relate to the Units of Work
Projects that would appeal to the non performer
Staging a Major Production Students Guide
Surviving the course
3. What are my options after the Course?
Careers in the Performing Arts
Preparing for Interview
Interviews with people in the industry
Do‟s and Don‟ts of Interviews
1. Thinking of studying a vocational Performing Arts course?
What is it like to study a Vocational Performing Arts course in post-16 Education?
There are a number of different Vocational Performing Arts courses on offer in schools and colleges. The
course structure and content will vary slightly depending on the school or college you decide to attend but
the basic principles of the courses are very similar.
The courses are designed to provide a broad education within your chosen subject areas as a foundation both
for further training leading to employment, and for progression to further and higher education.
The course you follow will be made up of a number of units or modules that focus on developing skills and
knowledge in different areas of the Performing Arts Industry ranging from units based on how the Industry
operates through to performance based units often focusing on specific skills such as Choreography, Voice
and Speech or Physical Theatre. The precise nature of the units offered will depend on the course you
decide to follow: this is a question you should ask when visiting colleges prior to enrolling on the course.
Frequently asked questions regarding vocational course in the Performing Arts
In order to get a closer insight to the course we interviewed two students from the Brit School in Performing
Arts to discuss the benefits of studying vocational qualifications. They have both studied the GNVQ
Intermediate in Performing Arts and have gone on to study the National Diploma in Acting.
Interview with Sophia Koureas aged 17- Year 12 student doing vocational training in
Performing Arts at the BRIT school. Who had previously studied GNVQ Intermediate
performing arts at the Brit school.
Tell us about some of the things you did during your two year course.
I have done a range of different pieces including At Joe‟s Table. I have also studied people, which helped
me to learn about understanding a character and made me feel a lot more comfortable on stage.
How you were assessed over those two years?
We were assessed in every lesson which made you work very hard. The assessments were split into
sections and you were assessed gradually over the two years rather than having the pressure of a final exam.
This helped you develop as an actor it was an ongoing method of assessment. We also had two 45 mins
exams. These were written exams about marketing and venues. So you were also assessed on different
aspects of theatre.
Why do you think its useful to learn about backstage, marketing etc?
I think it is important for you to know what goes on behind the scenes. To learn how everyone works
together as a team. It helps you understand how it all works and appreciate the work of others on the team.
When you learn about marketing your show, you learn to understand about what range of audience will
come to see it and what age group you are aiming at.
Are you studying any other, more academic subjects alongside the vocational performing arts subject?
I am studying English literature which I thought would help me with drama by helping me to understand
language i.e Shakespeare. It also helps me to get my head around novels and their characters.
What sort of student do you think would succeed on the courses that you have taken?
You have to be someone who is very level headed and accept that you are not the only talented person. You
are surrounded by other very talented people. You have to be focused. You should take advantage of the
facilities and opportunities but still work as a team and accept others and not be selfish about how you work.
What real skills do you think you have learnt on this vocational course rather than what you may have got
from a traditional A level course?
I think that all the different sections i.e voice and bigger picture, have helped me to develop a great deal.
Voice has helped me to stretch my voice across a room without shouting. It has helped me to develop my
voice as an actor. Bigger Picture has helped me to understand things more i.e why a play was written, what
was happening around it at that time. Scriptwriting helps to show you how a play becomes real and helps me
as an actor to learn how to write something as well as say something.
What are your career aspirations and how has your vocational training helped to shape those ideas?
Although I am still interested in acting a great deal, as I have learnt different aspects of theatre I have found
directing and producing a lot more interesting than the acting side. Have found creating a piece a lot more
of a goal, an achievement.
Where do think you may be going onto after you leave here?
I would most like to go to university although I am not quite sure which one as yet. I would like to study
directing at university.
Interview with Sarah Tooke - Year 12 student doing vocational training in Performing Arts
at the BRIT school
You did GNVQ in Performing Arts at The BRIT School. What do you think you learnt on that course?
I learnt that Theatre is taken very seriously at the school and we are given much more time to work on our
When you did GNVQ in Performing Arts you were continually assessed. What did you think about the
process of continual assessment?
I thought this was the best way to assess us. It showed us the best way to improve throughout the course.
This is shown even more so on the BTEC qualification.
What non performance skills did you learn during your GNVQ in Performing Arts?
We looked at marketing during „At Joe‟s Table‟. We also took on a marketing role. It was good to look at
that aspect and the budgeting as well as the performance side.
You have gone on to study a BTEC National Diploma in Drama at the BRIT School. What have you done
on that course since you started a term ago?
We have different themes each term. Term 1 Stanislavski, term 2 political theatre. It differs from GNVQ in
that we concentrate on different aspects throughout the course of the week i.e scriptwriting, acting, bigger
picture. Includes looking at the history of theatre, Brecht, Stannislavski. This is important to know and
helps you to understand more about theatre.
What kind of student do you think does well on these types of courses?
What skills do you need?
You need to be confident and outgoing. Know when to make sacrifices. Work to deadlines. No point in
putting a lot of work into something and then hand it in late.
Can you tell us if your training will affect your future and what your future plans are?
My plans are to do television presenting and I think my training would be very beneficial for this career. I
Would like to continue with theatre studies with the possibility of going into fashion college/fashion
We also interviewed to five students in Years 12 and 13 at Groby Community College in
Leicestershire to get their impressions of the course, the sorts of things they do and the
sorts of things they would like to do in the future. They are Emma, Sam and Dave from Year
13 and Tom and Camilla from Year 12. (Picture Camilla and Tom) (To projects)
When you first opted to do this course, what did you think it would be like?
Emma: I thought there would be a lot more, “You do this, you do that” type thing where you‟d be told
exactly what you have to do all the time: like in English when you‟re given a piece of coursework, you‟re
told exactly what you‟ve got to do and how to do it, but with this course there‟s a lot more freedom.
Dave: I didn‟t know what to expect. I thought it would be a more active course and we do go out a lot to
other places. It‟s a community course.
Tom: I thought it would be looking a lot at what goes on behind the scenes of any performance, but there‟s
a lot of looking at what goes on stage as well. I thought it would be very practical and it is.
Camilla: I thought it would be very practical which is why I did it, and it is.
Is there anything that‟s been different about the course from how you expected it to be?
Emma: There‟s a lot of choice as to how you demonstrate your skills in acting or music or whatever it may
be. I really like that aspect of it.
Sam: There‟s more written work than I expected with the portfolio write ups.
David: I thought it would be lot more like Theatre Studies „A‟ level, but it‟s not. I thought it would be just
acting but it‟s not. I‟ve done directing and found out I‟m better at directing, other aspects of drama, singing,
even some dance.
Tom: I thought it would be similar to Theatre Studies which I‟m also taking, but it‟s not. It‟s completely
Camilla: I didn‟t know about the portfolio work and that‟s been interesting learning how to write things up
and we‟ve also had to do a lot more organisational work than I‟d realised; for example, Tom and I actually
organised the structure of some of the early rehearsals for the Wizard of Oz.
How are you assessed on the course?
Tom: We‟re assessed on any practical work we do, and we have to write up evidence of what we‟ve done.
We‟ve constantly got people watching us work and giving us feedback. We have to do some written exams
What‟s been the most recent project you‟ve worked on?
Emma: The most recent project we‟ve worked on has been „The Wizard of Oz‟ which has been a really
good show. I‟ve really liked that.
David: I was the Assistant Director, so I worked on all the small scenes, gave my ideas and opinions. I was
also the Tin Man, so I had to audition for that part and then develop the character for the production.
Tom: I was working on tech – that‟s lighting and sound as my backstage role and I was also acting as well.
I had to arrange for the hire of all the additional sound and lighting equipment and then check all the health
and safety measures were in place when it was rigged. I was also playing the part of the Lion, so I was
working on that at the same time.
Sam: I did „Front of House‟, all the programmes, posters, tickets, that sort of thing. I also did a lot of liaison
work with the local primary schools to get some of their children to take part.
Camilla: I designed and was in charge of the set. I had a lot of help from other people to build it, paint it
and get it up and running. I was also the good witch, Glenda.
What sort of production was it?
Emma: It was a main school Christmas production, a really big production. We had over a hundred in the
cast all together. There were forty kids from local primary schools. It was a bit hectic at times with everyone
running in to each other behind stage, but it was really good fun.
Describe the last week of that project leading up to the performances from your own point of view.
Emma: The last week was really hectic. I was in charge of costume so I had to do things like go into town
to pick up the costumes for the Lion and the Tin Man which I‟d arranged to hire. Meanwhile all the dancers
were pestering me saying, “Have you done this? Have you got that ready yet?” so from that point of view it
was really difficult because everyone just expected their costume to be ready first. I had my sewing machine
Sam: It was mainly involved with getting the programme together, getting the names of all the members of
the cast that I wasn‟t sure of.
Towards the beginning of the week, it seemed almost disorganised, it didn‟t seem like it would ever come
together but it just got tighter and tighter as the week went on. During the performances I was mainly
involved with the „Munchkins‟, the children from the local primary schools. I had to register them, get them
into costume and make up and make sure they were kept entertained in between their scenes.
Dave: Coming into the last week, the show was looking a bit rigid so I was getting people into the theatre at
lunchtimes to work on things like entrances and exits, just smoothing the whole thing out.
Tom: We got all the tech equipment in at the start of that week, so one of my big jobs was to make sure
we‟d got everything, plug it all in and test it, and then, once we‟d rigged, just to check that things like leads
were taped down across corridors so they weren‟t going to trip any one over. From the acting point of view,
it was just tidying everything up and smoothing things out. Tying up the loose ends.
Camilla: I did a lot of painting that last week, but also making sure everybody was there on time for
rehearsal because we had such a big cast, and making sure everyone was quiet backstage during rehearsals. I
was taking on some backstage management roles when previously I‟d always been used to being told what
What have been the major highlights of this course for you?
Emma: The major highlight for me was in April, when we did a show called, “It‟s called Puberty”. We
wrote the show ourselves, Dave and I. Our brief had been to produce one performance of about half an hour
to raise money for the appeal to replace our seating, as part of the „Creating Work for Performance‟ unit.
We ended up producing a one and a half hour musical with loads of people in it and we did four
performances of it. We raised over a thousand pounds in ticket sales for the appeal. We were really proud of
it and everyone really enjoyed it.
Sam: The shows. You work on the shows for weeks and then watching the performances. It‟s definitely the
Dave: The show Emma and I wrote was definitely the main highlight for me. We came up with the idea of
targeting something at our own age group and because we are all still growing up, we wrote something
about puberty. It started off as a series of sketches, but then we managed to join it together into one script
and we wrote songs for it and decided we could put it on. We held auditions and selected people to play the
main parts. I directed it and Emma did all the music, wrote the songs and did the arrangements. It was really
Tom: I‟ve only been doing the course for a term, but the major highlights for me have been the
performances. I‟ve done three main performances: the „Wizard of Oz‟ which we‟ve talked about, „Godspell‟
which I did with an amateur company out of school but which I can still be assessed on for my „Performing
Work‟ unit, and a Shakespeare piece which I did for my „Theatre Studies‟ exam, but which I can also be
assessed on for VCE.
Camilla: The main highlight has definitely been the „Wizard of Oz‟. I took a while to get going, but in the
last couple of weeks it really came together and I really, really enjoyed it. I had a lot more responsibility
than I‟ve had in other musicals I‟ve been involved in in the past and that was really good experience.
What are the strengths of the course from your point of view?
Sam: The involvement both on stage and back stage. You get to know a lot about performance, but you get
to know a lot about production too.
Dave: The experience you get definitely, not just writing the show but preparing things for newspapers, I‟ve
done radio interviews and the portfolio of your work that you build up because of it. I‟ve got a massive
portfolio to show people at Universities or going for jobs now. The teamwork is really important too. You
have to work as part of a team.
Tom: The big strength of the course for me is that if you enjoy working in the performing arts and you
enjoy performing, you can be assessed on basically doing the things you enjoy.
Camilla: Definitely the practical side of the course. Even though you do have to do quite a lot of writing,
it‟s based on the practical things you‟ve already done, so you still enjoy it.
Do you think the course has given you any qualities which an employer would value?
Emma: Confidence. A couple of years ago, I couldn‟t have just sat here in front of a video camera like I am
now and talked freely. It makes you a lot more independent, it makes you think for yourself and it makes
you see what you can really achieve when you put your mind to it.
Sam: I think it helps a lot with communication and team working skills.
Dave: Definitely communication skills. I can confidently stand up in front of ninety, a hundred and twenty
people now, get them all to be quiet and listen and know that what I‟m saying is coming across to them.
When I‟m directing a show, I‟ve got to listen to what other people have got to say as well. If they‟re on
stage and they‟re not enjoying it, I‟ve got to be able to discuss it with them and sort it out.
Tom: I‟ve already developed more contacts in the performing arts industry, and the confidence to
communicate with people older than me who are working in the performing arts industry. We‟ve done
interviews with producers and directors and been interviewed on the radio ourselves. It‟s given me insight
into the industry in general.
Camilla: Tom and I had to go to the Haymarket Theatre and Loughborough Town Hall to do interviews for
our project notes for Unit 1 and we had to do that ourselves, so I think that was a valuable experience.
What are the weaknesses of the course from your point of view?
Tom: The only weakness of the course that I can see so far is that because it‟s a fairly new course, people
are still learning about it.
If you were describing this course to a Year 11 student who was thinking of doing it, what would you tell
Emma: I would tell them that it‟s a fun and interactive course, definitely worth applying for because it‟s
brilliant and it really brings you out of yourself, it shows other people what talents you‟ve got, it makes you
more confident and it‟s really good fun.
Sam: I‟d tell them to go for it. It‟s a really exciting course and you learn a lot, but make sure you keep up
with the written work, the portfolios, because if you get behind, it‟s very difficult to catch up.
Dave: I‟d just say, “Go and do it!” It‟s very enjoyable. It‟s hard work. There are a lot of hours to be done
out of lessons, but it‟s really worth it. It‟s a real team game too. You can‟t do it all on your own and you
have to learn to accept help from other people.
Tom: I‟d tell them that it‟s probably the most fun of any „A‟ level course they could do, but even though it‟s
a lot of fun it‟s a lot of hard work as well. If they‟re considering any kind of career in the Performing Arts, it
should definitely be top of their list.
What are you hoping to do in the future?
Tom: I‟d like to be an actor working with a touring company, preferably a TIE company or something like
Camilla: I‟d love to be a singer, but I don‟t know if that‟s going to happen! I‟m looking at University
courses that mix the Performing Arts with Psychology, because there a lot of courses that mix quite opposite
subjects now and that gives you more options. I‟d also quite like to be involved in the technical side of
music and I‟m hoping to get more experience of that in the future.
(Interviews took place December 2002)
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2. What happens on the course?
On a vocational course:
If you decide to take a vocational qualification in the Performing Arts you can look forward to a variety of
exciting and stimulating challenges. You can expect to learn about the history of the performing arts, its role
in society, the industry in the 21st Century as well as a great number of practical assignments. Below are a
number of projects that have run over the last few years at the Brit School for performing arts in Croydon
for students who have taken the National Diploma in performing Arts. Although courses vary from school
to college up and down the country these examples should give you some indication of the variety of
opportunities you will have to develop your skills and knowledge.
Examples of projects
The numbers and titles in brackets refer to the units of study from the National Diploma you will be
Building a character: using modern techniques of acting as used by such famous actors as Robert De
Niro, Meryl Streep or Marlon Brando you can create a character that you design. You will be asked to dress,
talk and exist as this character. This will give you a chance to improvise and stay in role over a long period
of time. In building a character you have to use your imagination and focus as an actor to be believable on
(Unit A11: Acting 1)
Bigger Picture Political Protest. The vocational performing arts qualifications believe in students
understanding the world in which they live in and encouraging students to have views about society. In this
project students work in small groups of 4-6 on presenting their views about a political issues that they care
about by utilising the performing arts. So in the past students have produced work about AIDS, the role of
the monarchy, the diet industry and fox hunting. What would you protest about?
(Performing arts in context: Unit 3)
Voice; It is important that all actors and performers know how the voice works and can develop their skills
in using their voice. During your two years on the course you can expect to have technical lessons in
exploring your voice and improving how to express yourself, project your voice and use it to the best of its
ability in front of an audience. You may have to learn and perform monologues (solo speeches) from a
variety of writers, you may be asked to perform a political speech that relates to your study of Brecht or to
experiment with your voice in an unusual way by interpreting an avant garde painting. You would also be
given the skills to perform Shakespeare monologues and get a greater understanding of the language and
poetry of the most famous writer in the world. (Unit A9 Voice)
Othello; a class of dance students took this famous play by Shakespeare that looks at themes of lust,
revenge and power and made it into a full length dance piece of their own. The students choose the music
they danced to which ranged from classical to r‟n‟b to hip hop. They also choreographed the dances them
selves. In most performing arts courses students take control of their own work and gain the confidence to
produce their own ideas. This makes them more mature, gives them leadership skills and makes them more
employable when they leave the course.
(Production Process Unit 7/ Production Project Unit 8)
In this project students learn about the history of the Broadway musical and look at a wide range of
composers from Jerome Kern to Rogers and Hart; from SHOW BOAT to CABARET. Students learn these
songs as solos, chorus pieces and duets and sing them to the public as part of their assessment.
Not all students who do vocational performing arts will want to be an actor or dancer or singer. Some will
want to work back stage as managers, will want to work in the box office or as administrators for theatre
Here are some projects that have happened at the Brit school, which might appeal to the student who wants
to work in the performing arts world but does not necessarily have the skills, confidence or desire to
Marketing. All students will learn how to market events; they will work towards a budget and producing a
marketing campaign to raise the profile of a show or an event. They develop ICT skills in design and
graphic packages, see what is effective in communicating ideas with the public and produce events that
advertise the shows they are working on. (production project unit 8)
Front of House. Dealing with the public. It‟s very important that students have an understanding of how to
work with the public and it is a good idea to work front of house as a steward or usher to help with a show.
This gives you a good insight in how a live theatre works and the problems of dealing with tickets, seating
an audience and how to be presentable to the public
Strawberry Picking. Good actors would not exist without good plays. At the Brit school we have
established a play-writing course for all students to encourage them to write and develop their ideas on
paper. They study writing for the radio and for television. Those that have written good plays get their ideas
developed. The plays were performed in the summer (hence the title) and students get to see their own plays
on stage. At the Brit school the student play festival was see n by representatives of the Royal Court and the
highly successful theatre company Paines Plough. (Unit A18 Script writing)
Community projects; There can be an important focus on performing artists working on community
projects. Usually working in small groups students identify a community area and devise and produce
performing arts work that is created for a particular audience. Here are a few of the projects for the
community taken by students who have studied the performing arts at the Brit school (devising theatre unit
Sunshine; students from the music department produced an evening of songs for a series homes for the
elderly. They wrote new songs especially for the audience and also sung songs that the people form the
homes had said they anted to hear.
Guided by the rain. A group of theatre students worked with the Croydon refugee centre to produce a
brand new piece of theatre for National refugee day. They listened to stories from refugees from Iran, Africa
and Eastern Europe and developed their own piece of original theatre that explored issues of home and
St. Giles. A group of theatre students worked with a special school for children with physical and mental
disability to produce anew piece of work that took from their own dreams and wishes for the future. This
culminated in an integrated performance piece in which able-bodied actors worked with wheel chaired
performance to an audience of over 300.
At the palace. A group of musical theatre students explored performing in the unusual environment of
Crystal Palace Park. They produced very contemporary pieces of performance that were site specific in that
they used the trees, pathways and buildings of the park in their work. People who were jogging, feeding the
darks or just out for a stroll became the audience. Also the boy band BLUE was filming their video in the
park that day and they joined in the fun!
Mr Pickles plays guitar where the wild things are. A group of actors worked with local primary school
children to develop a brand new play that looked at reading the joy of the books. In this play, which
performed at over 10 venues and in which students learnt the roles of a small scale touring company, the
student actors used the stories of their childhood and brought them alive again for the pleasure of 5-7 year
olds. The project went on to win an award from the National Campaign for Reading.
Pictures of Performing Arts students at work
You can also study technical theatre in vocational studies on National diploma courses. You can explore
lighting, sound; make up, stage design and many other exciting areas of study. Here are some of the projects
that you could do
MAKE-UP: you can learn how to make the cuts, bruises and scars that are used on hospital dramas; you
can investigate the make –up need for fashion models, horror films, Restoration dramas and pantomimes.
COSTUME: you can design, fit and make the clothes for productions at school. You can be the wardrobe
manager and make sure the clothes are kept in a professional way.
LIGHTING; You can learn how create special effects on stage, how t rig lights for a pop concert, a
spectacular musical or a piece of contemporary dance.
At the Brit school the production students work with the other areas to produce work that combines all areas
of the performing arts.
They have produced a show called KEMET, which looked at Egyptian culture, and the students produced
sets, costumes and a moving pyramid tomb that made the audience gasp with delight. Last year they worked
on the world of martial arts and built a production based on the Bruce Lee film Enter the Dragon. This
year they are working on Blonde Noir a special production in which the thrillers of gangsters and from the
1920s inspire students to make glamorous costumes for stunning dancers and design a New York city street
scene for the dead of the night.
This is a sample of the of the projects that the students taking VCE Performing Arts at
Groby Community College in Leicestershire have undertaken during the last 12 months. To
see what the students thought about them, look at the interviews in section 1Thinking of
studying a vocational Performing Arts course?
‘The Wizard of Oz’ – A whole school Christmas production. The cast was made up of students from our
college (including some studying VCE Performing Arts) and children from local primary schools. All VCE
students had a specific backstage role. They did things like go out into Leicester to visit costume hirers and
arrange the hiring of some costumes, the hiring and operation of lapel radio microphones for all the main
characters and an interview on Radio Leicester to publicise the show. There were four performances to sell
out audiences of 180. Work was related very specifically to Unit 5: Performing Work but also had links to
Unit 3: Skills.
Visit to Leicester Haymarket Theatre and Loughborough Town Hall Theatre – Year 12 students
visited and toured these two venues, looking at all aspects of their facilities and conducted interviews with
staff from both venues. They devised questions for the interviews prior to going and also conducted research
so that they were informed about the venues. As a bonus at Loughborough, they got to see the matinee of
the annual pantomime! Work related specifically to Unit 1: Investigating the Performing Arts Industry
and allowed them to write their project notes for the exam.
‘The Naughty Munchkin’ – As part of the „Wizard of Oz‟ project, year 12 and year 13 VCE PA students
devised a half hour show to be performed in local primary schools based on the „Wizard of Oz‟. The idea of
this production was to interest children from the three most local primary schools in being part of the cast
for the main production, playing the part of munchkins. Students had to produce a touring show appropriate
to a target audience of 8-11 year olds. There were three performances altogether, one in each of the schools
to audiences of between 80 and 150. Work was related specifically to Unit 4: Creating Work for
Performance and Unit 7: Performance Work within the Community.
‘Romeo and Juliet’ – Year 13 students devised and performed a forty minute version of Shakespeare‟s
Romeo and Juliet and performed it to Year 8 and 9 students in two local schools. The idea was to give an
introduction to Shakespeare‟s work prior to its being studied. This was a very open ended project, the brief
being only that they had to devise a performance of at least half an hour to take place in a community venue.
The students had to select a venue, identify a target audience, make arrangements for the actual
performances and, of course, write and perform the piece. As part of it they videoed and edited „news clips‟
relating to the story of Romeo and Juliet and back projected them during the performance. Work related to
Unit 4: Creating Work for Performance, but also very specifically to Unit 7: Performance Work within
the Community. From this project the students wrote their notes for the Unit 7 exam.
‘It’s Called Puberty’ Year 12 students were given the brief of devising a piece with at least one
performance of at least 30 minutes to raise money for an appeal. They ended up writing a one and a half
hour comedy musical with ten songs which played to packed audiences over four performances. All in all,
the show made a profit of over a £1,000 which was donated towards the appeal to replace the seating in the
college theatre. Work related to Unit 4: Creating Work for Performance but also had great benefits to
portfolio evidence for Unit 3: Skills Development and Unit 5: Performing Work.
Performing Arts Festival: Stanislavski pieces – Following research and practical sessions into
Stanislavski as a theatre practitioner, students produced short pieces of drama for performance as part of a
festival of performing arts. Work related mainly to Unit 3: Skills development.
Students brief for Staging a Major Production (students guide)
This is a large scale major project which relates specifically to Unit 5: Performing Work but which also
includes ideas relating to Units 1, 3 and 4 and with task one, could also be related to Unit 2. It gives
specific ideas of the type of tasks students would have to complete in being involved with a major
Also included is a Teachers guide as to how this project might be tackled. This is the format that the
students followed in doing the performance of „The Wizard of Oz‟ (see Interviews in section 1)
More examples of Assignment Planning
Here is an interview with a student on a Music Technology course:
Surviving on the course.
As a performer there is only one thing that matters above all else, keeping fit and healthy.
Personal techniques for warming up and keeping fit depend upon the areas of expertise, and should be based
on accepted disciplines for those areas. Although having been to many musical performances it is obvious
that all musicians must be able to do a 10 second, 500 metre dash. No matter how fast you get to the bar in
the interval, they are all at least half way down their first pint!
No one else can take responsibility for your health but you.
A good diet provides the body with the fuel to perform efficiently. Starving will not give the energy levels
necessary to sustain a good performance, or provide the body with the power to recover from the everyday
knocks that are a feature of most performance courses
Basic beauty and cleansing regimes must be carried out to prevent those inconvenient spots and blemishes
that can occur at the most inconvenient moments. Anyone who performs live, especially when stage make-
up has to be worn, should always try to look their best for the, hopefully, paying public. No one wants to
work closely with any individual who has been a stranger to basic hygiene, and not been near a shower or
bathroom! One of the unwritten laws of performing is to keep teeth clean and breath fresh! Get a dentist and
Safety in the surroundings and working areas also are dependant upon the individual performer. Cleaners
are there to do just that. A performer must take responsibility to check that areas are safe and personal
equipment I proper working order.
Do not expect other people to be responsible, and above all else do not take things for granted. As someone
involved in performing arts, you must take responsibility for yourself.
There are, however, things that can help to maintain a safe environment – Health and Safety
3. What are my options after the Course?
On completion of the course you will need to decide on what to do next. This section is designed to
give advice from the employers/University aspect and to help with the Interview process.
Careers in the Performing Arts
Studying Performing Arts can help prepare students for many career opportunities including work in the
specific areas of theatre production or performance as well as the related areas of advertising, television,
film, recreation, education, and management. Theatre study includes a comprehensive study in theatre,
practical experience in professional production, and a solid background in the liberal arts. Talent,
commitment, energy, and discipline are key personal qualities required for successful theatre careers.
Many occupations today require a college educated individual who can write and speak well, solve
problems, learn new information quickly and work well with others on a team. This means that college
graduates use their education in a wide variety of fields, and your future career may relate more to your
personal career interests, work values and transferable skills than any specific subject.
Related Skills and Characteristics
Imagination & creativity Interpersonal skills
Flexibility Interpretive skills
Attention to detail Good work ethic
Appreciation of aesthetics Presentation, public
Strong communication skills speaking skills
Basic reading, writing and Adaptability
The following list contains a representative sample of job titles of former graduates who studied
Performing Arts. Use this as an idea list, and remember that it represents some, but certainly not all, of
the careers you might consider. Click on the live link to gain more detail of each job.
Acting Coach Art Director Magician
Costumer Health Educator Recruiter
Media Planner Playwright Stage hand
Actor Dancer Costume Designer
Critic Booking Manager Rigger
Media Salesperson Human Resource Teacher
Actress Specialist Script Coach
Customer Service Producer Student Affairs
Manager Broadcast Journalist Specialist
Mediator Impersonator Theatre Manager
Admissions Director Program Assistant Script Manager
Development Business Manager Stage Manager
Officer/Fund Raiser Instructor, Theatre Arts Stunt Coordinator
Mime Prop Manager Ticket Sales Coordinator
Musicians Labour Relations Special Events
Advertising/Marketing Specialist Coordinator
Specialist Public Affairs Officer Make-up Artist
Director Casting Director Sales Representative
Model Lighting Designer Exhibit/Display
Agent Public Relations Designer
Drama Coach Specialist Faux Painter
Movie Theatre Manager Communication Scene Painter
Amusement Park Technology Specialist Sound Designer
Entertainer Lighting Operator
Equipment Operator Puppeteer
Narrator Community Affairs
Buyer Radio/TV Announcer
Facilities Manager Copy Writer
STAGE MANAGER plan and coordinate rehearsals and performances, including supervision of the
plotting and rehearsal of technical cues, props, stage elements and moving scenery.
A stage manager may perform the following tasks:
analyse and interpret the script, plans, models and designs for all relevant technical and production
talk with management, designers and the director to determine requirements for rehearsal and
undertake administrative functions including prioritising tasks and determining production
resources such as time, finance, personnel and physical space
prepare for rehearsals and obtain all necessary resources, such as props, costumes and settings
prepare and distribute all necessary rehearsal, production and performance documentation
prepare the prompt copy, which defines actors' calls and movements, technical cues, stage
elements, props and moving scenery, and front-of-house communications
organise the rehearsal space and process, including final transfer to the theatre
supervise and direct backstage staff and members of the stage management team
give cues for lights, sound, cast entrances, moving scenery and other performance elements
ensure the safe storage of production resources.
Stage managers work in all types of live performances. They work closely with production
departments, management, the creative team and the performers.
Stage managers may be required to travel extensively. Hours of work are long and include nights and
authority and tact
able to work as part of a team
STAGEHAND- prepare and erect sets for live performances, theatre, opera, musical concerts and dance
A stagehand may perform the following tasks:
load and unload scenery
build and rig stage and flown (suspended) scenery
devise the best method for storage and setting of scenery in performances
run all scenery moves in a performance
operate mechanical components of the stage including trap doors, hydraulic equipment and
carry out maintenance and repairs of stage scenery.
Theatre mechanists work as part of a small team. Working hours are irregular and may include
nights and weekends.
More experienced mechanists may be employed as theatre flypersons, whose work involves
operating the flying systems which control flown scenery.
able to work long and irregular hours
enjoy manual work
able to use a variety of tools
reasonable level of physical fitness
enjoy working with people
ACTORS portray roles in productions in both live and recorded media.
In the live performance area, an actor may perform in theatre, opera or variety. In the recorded medium,
an actor may portray a role in film, radio, television and in commercials for theatre, film, radio and
An actor may perform the following tasks:
study the material, learn a part and interpret the role through speech, gesture and various other
attend auditions for parts in productions, performing prepared or improvised pieces
rehearse parts by memorising lines, cues and movements
undertake extensive research for certain roles and productions
under the guidance of a director, act the part of the film, television, stage or radio character in front
of live audiences, cameras or microphones
attend costume fittings
sing and dance when required.
Actors need a great deal of patience and commitment because most productions require long
rehearsal schedules and many hours of memorising lines outside the rehearsal periods.
stamina to perform at peak level
able to cope with a changing situation
DANCERS are performers who entertain audiences by dancing as soloists, with a partner, or as members
of a group.
There are many styles of dance including ballet, contemporary, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, folk,
jazz, ballroom and tap. Dancers may perform using a variety of styles or they may specialise in one
particular dance style.
A dancer may perform the following tasks:
rehearse dance steps and movements under the direction and instruction of a choreographer
develop their own interpretation of a role
train daily to maintain or improve technical standards, fitness and suppleness and to help reduce
the risk of injury when rehearsing or performing
perform styles of dance as the company, project or choreographer requires
attend auditions and rehearsals
sing or act as part of a performance
contribute to the choreographic process with individually devised material
choreograph dance works or routines
generally apply own make-up for a performance.
Dancers may specialise as a:
Choreographer creates original dances and dance programs and offers suggestions as to how the dancer
should interpret and perform them.
Community Dance Worker works with communities to facilitate the expression of that group's ideas in
Dance Teacher may teach in their area of specialisation in private dance studios, or they may own and
run their own dancing schools. Dancers with appropriate qualifications can teach in secondary schools or
Dance Therapist is specially trained to use dance as part of a therapy program. These programs are used
for a wide range of
people, including the elderly, children and adults with special needs and individuals with specific
Most professional classical dancers have studied ballet from about the age of five. However, some modern
dancers, particularly men, begin training as late as 16 to 20 years of age.
discipline, dedication and perseverance
good muscular coordination
good sense of rhythm
an appreciation of music
good general health and an ability to reach high levels of fitness
good communication skills
MUSICIANS write, arrange, orchestrate, perform and conduct musical compositions.
A musician may perform a variety of tasks depending on their area of specialisation.
Arranger transcribes musical compositions or melodic lines to adapt and modify them or create particular
styles for orchestras, bands, choral groups or for individuals. People with these skills may proceed to a
number of jobs, including music teacher, music director, conductor or record producer.
Classical Musician works to very high technical levels and develops high levels of ensemble skills. They
must develop the ability to adapt to the demands of international conductors and soloists. Classical
musicians develop a knowledge of classical, opera and ballet repertoire, and may undertake additional
training at music schools overseas.
Composer creates musical compositions for films, plays, television, concerts and operas. Composers may
specialise in one type of music or in compositions for particular instruments and they may write a lyric
(words) to accompany the music.
Conductor conducts instrumental groups such as symphony orchestras and large bands. They can
audition and select members of a group and choose the music to accommodate the talents and abilities of
the group and to suit the type of performance to be given. Conductors become familiar with the complete
musical score, conduct rehearsals, instruct players on their performances and try to make the best use of
each instrumentalist's talents. They conduct performances in which they control factors such as balance,
rhythm, dynamics and timing to create an effect consistent with their own interpretation of the score.
Ethnomusicologist is a musician who studies music in its cultural context and seeks to understand the
relationship between musical cultures. They may work as composers, performers, lecturers or researchers.
They usually work within an academic institution such as a university, exploring, studying, researching
and writing scholarly articles on music and musicians. Field work in various regions of the world may be
required, where they record music from a particular area, an ethnic group or a particular performing group.
Jazz Musician is often recognised for their superior skills in improvisation. Their ensemble skills are
similar to those required in chamber groups.
Music Critic is employed by major print media publishers to report on the performing arts worldwide.
Local areas usually have part time critics who report regularly on local and visiting artists in the local
Musicologist is a musician with training in the skills required to interpret musical history and style. They
generally work as lecturers.
Performing Musician/Instrumentalist may play one or more instruments in solo recital performances.
This may be in accompaniment only, or as members of orchestras, bands or other musical groups
including chamber ensembles. Musicians spend a number of hours each day in private practice to prepare
music for rehearsals and performance. They may record and program backing tracks and/or electronic
devices that may be used in performance. Musicians may need to listen to and analyse music in either
written or recorded form to build their repertoire. They also need to maintain and prepare their instruments
for peak performance. They may compose and write music and lyrics, or transpose and/or arrange music
across a number of musical styles including classical, pop, jazz, folk, country, show music and various
forms of dance music.
Vocalist may work solo or with an accompanist, or permanently or casually with bands, ensembles,
orchestras or in concert opera. Popular vocalists develop a repertoire and many specialise in a particular
style, or work on stage, radio and television. They may entertain as soloists, perform in a group and/or
play an instrument. Vocalists need to train and develop their voice and capacity to sing, as well as develop
presentation skills. They need to understand music and be able to work with bands and orchestras.
Musicians must be prepared to work irregular hours and spend long periods practising and rehearsing.
Some musicians work in areas unrelated to music to support themselves. Many professional musicians
with experience in all styles combine music performance and music teaching careers.
stamina to perform at peak level
self-confidence, motivation, dedication and determination
able to concentrate for long periods
mastery of one or more styles of music such as popular, jazz or classical
flair for entertainment
People working in the Performing Arts Industry have planned every step of their careers: studying,
working their way up the ladder, finally reaching success and (dare we say it?) wealth. Others became
successful without a lot of planning, but by sheer force of talent and being in the right place at the right
This section will introduce you to people in the Performing Arts industry who are at various stages in their
careers. The one thing all our stories have in common is people who started with talent, showed
perseverance in finding opportunities, and worked very hard at whatever job they were in at the time.
We hope you'll be inspired and motivated by the information so far and be possibly interested in pursuing
a career of your own. The following are interviews with REAL people within the Performing Arts
Joss: Music Performer
Chris and Jarred: Comedians
Michelle: Local Radio
Dan: Box Office Manager
Once you have decided what to do next and you have been invited to
interview; there are a number of key factors.
What do I do at an interview?
Be prepared! - Know the organisation you are applying to. Know what makes them individual; all drama
schools are different, all performing arts schools are different.
To state the obvious, the questions in an interview, apart from some general introductions, are intended to
select the person most suitable for the job or placement, or find the one who seems to be most adaptable
and willing to learn.
As part of the preparation and research process, answer these questions first.
Be honest. If you cannot answer these satisfactorily, then think again!
-Why am I applying?
-What skills do I have?
-Which skills do I need to have, and can I realistically acquire or learn them?
-Is this the job I can do for the rest of my life, or is it a means to an end?
-How prepared am I? Do I know what the job entails?
-Is there an audition as part of the interview, and am I confident of my abilities to perform the pieces?
BEFORE YOU GO FOR INTERVIEW, FIND OUT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE ABOUT THE KINDS
OF WORK CARRIED OUT THERE.
Some questions which may come up at interview.
What qualities do you have as an individual which would be of benefit in this job?
Is there anything you are particularly proud of?
Why do you want this job?
How would you cope with?.........(then there could be a whole range of possible scenarios
related to the type of job or situation)
What aspects of the work do you really enjoy?
Where would you like to see yourself in three years time?
What experiences have you had so far which would positively benefit you in this job?
What do you see as the biggest drawbacks to this job?
What benefits might this job bring to you as an individual?
These are all things that you should have taken into consideration before deciding on a career, so make
sure you are confident of your reasons.
The main thing is to keep your answers to the point and not ramble or talk too much. The interviewers
need to find things out about you and if you do not allow them to get a word in they will not be able to
make an informed decision.
Try and have some practice, both at being interviewed and interviewing someone else. Being the
interviewer can put a different perspective on the process. The group can video or audio record it and
assess the performance. You must be totally honest about what you see and hear. The big question can
then be asked:
WOULD YOU GIVE THAT PERSON A JOB?
More specific questions which may come up in a Drama School or University Interview.
Opinions and knowledge
1) What was the last effective performance you have seen?
2) Discuss your favourite playwright/choreographer/composer
3) Of all the practitioners you have studied which one do you identify with?
4) What‟s your view on the current state of the Performing Arts in Britain?
a) Discuss your most effective performance.
b) Apart from performing what roles have you undertaken in a production.
c) What do you think your choices of audition material say about you?
d) What are the specifics of this course that you are interested in?
The life questions
1) What sort of person would you like to be?
2) What has life yet to teach you?
3) Give an example of how you have dealt with rejection
4) What are your strengths and weaknesses as a person?
1) Self evaluate the audition speeches you have just given.
2) Discuss your interpretation of the piece. (There may be a question specific to your Performing Arts
3) What are your strengths and weaknesses as a performer?
1) Where will you live if you get offered a place? How will you travel here?
2) How will you fund yourself?
3) Have you got opportunities for part time work? What are your skills
4) Are your parents supportive of your decision
5) Are you prepared to change your image/weight for the benefits of your career?
You better believe it! – These are real questions that have been asked in interviews
a) Are you a Macbeth or a Hamlet?
b) Why do men not cry as much as girls?
c) How has the Internet affected the performing arts world?
d) If you were minister of the arts what would you do?
e) Have you ever been in love? How has this helped you with your development as an actor?
The dos and don’ts of interviews
Get there early. Gives you time to relax, suss out the place, be comfortable with your surroundings.
Wear clothes that make you feel confident, relaxed and presentable. As a performer you want to
aim to look like a neutral individual.
Have questions about the course you are applying to. Make these questions very sensible and make
sure they are not already covered in the prospectus.
Have some recent performances that you can talk about. . The best thing is to talk positively about
what you like. This way you come across as open rather then risking offending someone.
Listen to the questions being asked. Listening is the skill in interviewing
Use please and thank-yous. There is an assumption that performing arts students can be too cool
and relaxed. Manners are always important.
Arrive late for your interview.
Have too many things on you that can detract from you (heavy wallet, big bunch of keys, mobile
phone, walkman), any of these things can fall out and be a distraction. Take with you what you
need but not unnecessary luggage. This is particularly pertinent for performing arts students, who
may have to improvise, perform, and take part in a movement class.
Don‟t wear excessive jewellery, clothes with loads of logos, excessive make-up. All of these things
distract from you.
Criticise productions you have seen or plays you have read. The performing arts world is small and
everyone knows everyone.
Ask what the salary is as your first enquiry.
Write a poor application letter - keep it to the point. If the letter is misspelled, scruffy, jokey or too
attention seeking, it will be consigned straight to the bin. You may think that bright red or green
paper is funky, or drawing hearts and flowers will make it stand out, but it may be difficult to read
or not appeal to the person who has to read it. Use colour by all means, but make it subtle and a
really good quality paper.
Provide a CV that needs a wheelbarrow to carry it in! – be selective. Do not send a video, CD or
tape recording unless they are requested. It is unlikely that there will be time to watch or listen to
them, and they will be thrown away. Unless professionally produced they will not give a good
impression of a real performance.
Only apply for jobs which are „exactly what you‟re looking for‟.
Lie! – You will be found out! If the interviewer thinks you are right for the placement or the job,
then the relevant help and training will be provided.
Be negative in your response to interview questions.
Be totally arrogant about yourself and your abilities. You want to be accepted into the school or
get work otherwise you would not be applying, but being unrealistic about your abilities is not
Finally here is a case study put together by an employer
Case Study – An Employer perspective A Small Scale Schools Touring Theatre Company