When it comes to making it as a performer, designer or otherwise in the theatre world, your resumé and portfolio represent your work and who you are in the theatre world. Aside from the actual quality of your work, this is the way a vast number of people will identify you. The first thing they see is this piece of paper or this digital (or physical) collection of your work. Because you are presenting this as a representation of yourself, you will want this to be the best version of yourself that it can be!
- Keep a running list of EVERY show you've ever been a part of including the title of the show, the theatre company it was performed with, the director, your role, and the year. You may never submit this list to any casting directors, and you won't have all of these roles on your resumé at once, but keeping a list can be very beneficial. Different credits may look better than others when auditioning for different shows, so keeping a running list will help keep track of the roles you have played.
- Prioritize the credits on your resumé according to the audition you're going in for. Are you heading into an audition for Oklahoma? Be sure to prioritize the list of your credits in order of relevance to Oklahoma, be it by type of character or other Golden Age musicals. Are you auditioning for a more modern musical, like Spring Awakening? Be sure to make previous rock musicals show up first on your list. This won't matter to every director, but it will subconsciously register in some peoples' minds that you've done a similar show before.
- DON'T make your resumé more than one page in length. Keep it as concise as possible. Yes, this means you won't be able to put every credit on there, but that's okay.
- Please don't include details that needn't be included on a professional resumé. For example, your "type" doesn't matter. Your type is something that the director will be able to judge for themselves based on your audition package. Your name, hair color, height and eye color, however, are important when it comes to sorting through resumes later. There are headshots to help directors remember who you are. However, headshots don't tell them how tall you are or what your real hair color is. When matching you up with other performers, it's helpful for a director to be able to look at a resume and know the important information they need to know without having to wrack their brain to remember your size.
- Include contact information. NOT all of it, but include your professional email address, as well as a telephone number. As you get deeper into the business you may end up with an agent, who will regulate your resumés and headshots for you, and their information will appear under your name as a contact - but until then, be sure to have a way for the casting director to contact you in case of a callback or role offer.
- Though it may be tempting when cutting down your list of credits, don't limit the ones that appear on your resumé to ONLY lead roles. Show your versatility. Though you want to show that you can do what the director needs, they may also find it valuable to see in what ways they can stretch you as an actor. Not to mention that although you may organize your credits to try to help you seem like a better candidate for a certain role, the director may see you in a different role.
- NEVER lie on your resumé. The first thing you are told as an actor is to say yes to anything - though this may be a slight exaggeration, what they usually mean is to be OPEN to anything. This doesn't mean that you should, therefore, claim to be able to do anything on your resume under special skills. If you write that you can yodel, you better be able to on the spot! If a director sees something that sparks their interest, they may ask you to do something on the spot if possible. If you write that you can horseback ride but you've never ridden a horse in your life, you better be sure that if you get a part that involves horseback riding that you show up to rehearsals with the knowledge you claimed to have had.
- Take your resumé seriously. Don't put a bunch of silly or unnecessary special skills on there just because you think they're funny. If you don't take yourself seriously, then other will have a hard time taking yourself seriously.
- PROOFREAD, PROOFREAD, PROOFREAD. Be sure to proofread it as a hard copy AND a digital file. There's nothing more frustrating than printing out a large batch of resumés, then finding out that you misspelled something on your resume and you now have 25+ copies that cannot be used. Have a friend read over your resumé just to be sure you've made no mistakes before sending it out. Save yourself from this careless mistake
- Make sure your resumé and headshot are printed on the same size paper. If your resumé is on 8.5x11 inch paper, your headshot must be too. Likewise, you can get 8x10 inch paper to fit a headshot that is printed on 8x10 inch paper. Do whatever works best for you, just be consistent
Here is an example of a theatrical resume:
Portfolios for theatre are a little bit different than resumés as far as the content itself goes, but it's still a representation of the work, as a designer, you're able to put forth for the company you're interviewing for. It should reflect you as a person and as a designer and should be very well organized.
Portfolios generally include the following:
- Photographs of your previous work, as well as a comparison of the finished product to the renderings you did beforehand of the design.
- Evidence of the work you put into your designs (not physical evidence, just clear design concepts and stages to completion.
- Any artistic work relative to the jobs you usually interview for, including photographs, drawings, paintings, and any renderings.
- Your resume fully typed out and polished with your previous works listed.
Costume designers, lighting designers, props masters, stage managers and sound designers should have portfolios with their work documented. Each designer will cater their portfolio to their relative emphasis, so stage managers should include a prompt book that's been polished and organized properly, lighting designers should include lighting plots and photos of the design during the finished production, and costume designers may include costume renderings complete with fabric swatches and more. Make sure if you have three-dimensional material in your portfolio, that none of it is free floating or loose in case it falls out. You don't want to look sloppy!
For an example of an online portfolio, please click HERE to see Szu-Feng Chen's, the Director of Design and Theatre Technology at the University of New Hampshire.