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The Usefulness Of Theatre Degrees In Other Professions

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Is majoring in theatre worth the effort? Can a person become successful with a simple theatre degree? These are questions that may go through someone’s mind while deciding their college major. It is common that when imagining a theatre major, one usually thinks of an actor, director, or even playwriter, or sometimes, depending on how well things went after obtaining their degree, a waitress. However, is it plausible to imagine a banker, accountant, politician, CEO, or founder of a company proudly displaying a theatre degree in their office? Although the study of theatre, at first consideration, may seem to only prepare a person for work on a stage, this is not the case. Theatre is able to teach a person how to work effectively with others. It may also give a person confidence in multiple areas. Lastly, theatre shows a person the importance of hard work. Due to this, a theatre degree provides skills that are useful in other professions.

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The first way in which theatre degrees can be helpful in other jobs is by teaching a person how to work with others. Primarily, theatre can show a person how to work with people in many different roles. Theatre, at its core, is a collaborative effort; many hands go into putting on a production. When putting on a play there is a large assortment of positions such as actors, directors, producers, set and costume designers, light and sound technicians, stage hands, and stage managers among others. Each person must work together in order to have a successful production. This is similar to other jobs because there are many people performing many different tasks at one time while ultimately working toward the same goal. Having a theatre degree is good preparation for working with others that have different tasks in order to get the job done. Also, theatre prepares people to work with different types of personalities.

Tom Vander Well is a theatre major that became President and CEO of Intelligentics. Tom Vander Well says that in theatre, he had to work with people from all different backgrounds and personalities. That experience made it easier when at his business, he had to present to and get feedback from different types of people with different ideas and backgrounds. Furthermore, theatre degrees teach the student how to communicate effectively in order to work with the people of different jobs and personalities. Students at Florida State University must show “Oral Communication Competency. . . Students must demonstrate the ability to orally transmit ideas and information clearly” in order to receive their theatre degree. This shows that effective communication is essential in order to be proficient in the art of theatre. The same can be said for all jobs. Without proper communication, tasks are performed incorrectly, confusion makes work difficult, and, in a few cases, peoples can become offended. In order to work with other people, communication is critical. This proves, yet again, how theatre degrees are useful for preparing people to work in places outside of theatre, by teaching them how to work with others.

Additionally, having confidence is another important quality that can be learned in theatre and is important in other professions. In an article for Inc. com, Lolly Daskal, who serves as the President and CEO of the company Lead From Within, says that “. . . when you have that unshakeable trust in yourself, you’re already one step closer to success”. This is true for theatre and any other profession in which there is feedback in order to improve. In theatre critiques happen often and one must learn how to be sure of their own abilities and so that they are not offended by these critiques. This means accepting what people say needs to be changed without letting it ruin your self-image. This is the same for the business world as well. At any job there will be bosses and coworkers giving feedback. It is important to have enough confidence to take what they say, apply it, but not feel defeated. That is how a person takes one step closer to success. Another way theatre helps teach confidence is with interviews. With theatre there are auditions in order to get into a show. This is similar to interviews for getting a job. In both cases a person needs to have the confidence in themselves so they can show off what they are capable of. That is the only way to receive the job (or part) they want. Having a theatre background prepares a person for having that confidence in interviews for the work place later on. Through theatre, confidence is also built for doing presentations in front of people. California University says that “theater majors build confidence and public speaking skills. In theatre an actor performs in front of an audience which develops a skill for public speaking. That skill later may help with giving presentations at a different job. Having confidence in yourself, in interviews, and in public speaking can be gained through a theatre degree and applied in multiple different career fields.

Finally, studying theatre teaches a person the importance of hard work. Harvey Young, a Dean of the College of Fine Arts at Boston University, says that “through the study and practice of theater”, one can acquire “an unparalleled work ethic. ” This can be found in many components of theatre study. First of all, in theatre long hours are necessary to prepare for a play. Although this is on the more extreme end “a typical Broadway show rehearses six days a week for eight hours a day. . . for four to six weeks. . . ”. While some shows, especially at the collegiate level, may not have a rehearsal schedule that is this rigorous, one can gain a basic understanding of how many long hours go into putting on a performance. Learning how to stay focused and task oriented during these rehearsals translates directly to long hours put in for any other profession. Theatre prepares a person to be able to continue performing at their best no matter how hard and tiring the day has been. Another way theatre prepares a person to work hard is through individual preparation. Each actor, most often before rehearsals actually begin, is expected to have their lines memorized. Even if only one character comes unprepared, time is wasted, people are disappointed, and no one can move forward. Without the hard work each person puts in by themselves, nothing is able to be done properly. This teaches a theatre major that even in other work settings one must on their own, be diligent, be rehearsed and be prepared in order to ensure success. Theatre prepares them to have to work on their individual work on top of the work expected to be done in the group.

Lastly, theatre prepares a person to work hard even in strange and unfamiliar circumstances. Each play is going to be new territory. There are new lines, new blocking, new cast, new part, new setting, new character, new motivations, new costume, possibly new genre, and/or new director. A theatre major must adapt to each new state of affairs and continue to push forward. If they become stuck in one way and refuse to work, they will never be able to accomplish anything. This holds true in other professions as well. Tom Vander Well understands this and says that “tireless work [goes into] projects that will be presented and then will be over. The report will be archived and I’m onto the next project. . . I learned all about that as a theatre major. ” This shows that things in business, in theatre, and in life are constantly evolving and changing. No matter how hard it may be, one must continue to work despite the confusion and discomfort that may come. A degree in theatre will prepare a person to do just that. Theatre is the perfect environment to cultivate hard working and driven people despite long hours, individual preparation, and ever evolving circumstances. At surface level a degree in theatre may seem useful only if a person desires to pursue a career on or around a stage. Digging a little deeper will prove that this is not the case. Theatre is an excellent place to expand, within a person, the ability to work alongside many different people. It also gives a person the confidence necessary to do well in life and other careers.

Lastly, theatre is perfect for the development of one’s willingness to work hard. These skills and fundamental principles that are learned while studying theatre are universal and can be helpful no matter what profession or career a person eventually settles into. Someone out there who aspires to be a successful business person, teacher, police man, restaurant owner, president, or CEO of a company may want to consider a degree in theatre. It just might be the thing that sets them up for a successful and fulfilling career.

15 July 2020

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