Five Simple Steps for Finding Theater Companies

An insider's guide to using Call Sheet's directory of theater companies

by Ryanne Laratonda & Rebecca Welch

Call Sheet Cover - Fall 2014 - Theater Company Directory

The theater section of Backstage's Call Sheet entertainment-industry database contains over 250 top theater companies from across the U.S. The theater directory can be searched by location, keywords, and theater types (including Equity, nonunion, contemporary, musical, summer stock, classical, LORT, new-work, children's, and community theaters).

The following tips will help you get the most out of the valuable information you'll find in Call Sheet's theater database:

Step One: Consider your location…or don’t!

Every state in the U.S. has a number of companies to choose from. We recommend starting your search by entering your current location in the database's "Office Location" box, to help you narrow your search. However, don’t be afraid to reach a bit outside of your immediate area. If you're looking to travel, many professional theaters even audition, hire, and provide housing for some out-of-town actors. Some casting directors even hold auditions in a number of conveniently located cities, so you don’t need to travel to the company’s exact location until you know you’ve been cast.

And if you're considering moving to a new city, spending a month working or volunteering with a theater company might be a great opportunity to try things out and make new contacts before deciding whether or not to move there permanently. By checking Call Sheet's databases of theater companies and production listings (and Backstage's casting calls), you'll have a better idea of what opportunities may be available in the city you're interested in.

Step Two: Note the theater’s mission and types of performances.

Narrow down your list to the theaters that specialize in the type of work you are interested in. Look at each company’s mission statement if one is provided. This should help you understand the foundation behind each company’s season or show selection. Take note of which theaters ask actors to work on a number of shows in repertory, or in outdoor venues. Consider your strengths and weaknesses, and evaluate which theaters would be right for you and your talent. Knowing what type of work the theater does may also affect how you edit your resume, or the piece you use to audition.

Step Three: Look at the submission policy and view their website.

While some theaters prefer actors to submit via email, others prefer postal mail. Some theaters accept auditions on videotape, while others do not. Take special note of the submission guidelines, and follow them accordingly. Address your submission to the casting director if one is provided. You may also want to log on to each company’s website and look at their audition page. Many of the websites list the times each company auditions during the year, or have a mailing list you can join for casting notifications.

(Most theaters also list their audition announcements and calls for submissions with Backstage, so don't forget to visit Backstage.com/Casting to find theaters that are actively seeking talent.)

Step Four: Make note of important names and become familiar with their work.

Take special note of each company’s staff list. Find out if you are familiar with any of their work. If so, you may want to reference it in your cover letter. If you are not familiar with the company’s work, consider attending one of its current shows.

Step Five: Consider additional opportunities at the theater

If you are also a playwright, read the theater's script-submission policy and take note of the literary manager. Or, does the company have an education director? If so, you may want to email them to see if any teaching opportunities are available. They may also have internship, apprenticeship, or staff opportunities that you could apply for. Many companies also have spaces available to rent should you want to produce your own show in the venue. Any opportunity to be in the building and come face-to-face with the staff there could work in your favor.

 

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