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Pursuing a Career in Theatre in Canada

Becoming an actor in Canada can be a challenge but if you are talented, persevering, and have formal training and education, you will find steady work.

Career Paths

There are different career paths in fields such as performance and production and arts and business administration. Sample positions include broadcast technician, lighting technician, camera operator, film editor, and casting director. The list of sample job listings is quite long and includes positions such as theatrical press agent, performing arts publicist, artist, costume designer, and stage manager. Professionals with training in playwriting, directing, and acting work across different settings, including cultural organizations, broadcasting and communications companies, and non-for-profit organizations. They also work for radio and television stations, theatre companies, and public relations firms. Theatre and drama graduates also have careers as puppeteers, writers, production managers, and performers. Many artists are freelancers as well.

Programs and Training

Many Canadian institutions offer Drama and Theatre Arts programs and courses, among which Ryerson University, Fanshawe College, University of Alberta. Ryerson University features a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Performance: Acting, which is designed for students interested in dramatic arts performances. Graduates can choose from a number of career paths and creative opportunities such as working in industrial and trade shows, teaching, organizing festivals and events, and performing on stage. Students enrolled in the program are offered a diverse selection of courses, including elements of production, landmarks in Canadian theatre, and creative performance studies. Fanshawe College features a two-year program in Theatre Arts – Performance to help students gain experience in acting for the camera and on stage, improvisation, and play analysis. The program is offered by the School of Digital and Performing Arts and features courses such as acting for the camera, vocal ensemble, and introduction to acting.

The Faculty of Arts at the University of Alberta features several programs, including Theatre Design, Technical Theatre Stage Management, Acting, and Drama. Students enrolled in the Acting program are offered practical training in singing, dialect, text analysis, speech, and movement. The curriculum covers a number of courses and themes, including voice and speech, theatre history, and rehearsal and performance. The program in Theatre Design helps students gain knowledge of set, lighting and costume design. Students also learn more about drafting, painting, drawing, and freelance business techniques. Humber College features an Advanced Diploma in Theatre Arts – Performance to help students develop essential skills to work as voice actors, music theatre actors, film actors, producers, and directors. Students are offered a range of courses such as introduction to theatre, acting techniques, and introduction to arts and sciences. The program has a length of 6 semesters and is open to domestic and international students.

Skills that actors should have to make them castable include proper speech and vocalization, ability to improvise, memorize lines, and engage with the audience, and strong vocal, screen, and stage presence. Experience in professional acting is always a plus.

Salaries and Job Responsibilities

The pay depends on position, location, experience, and other factors. The average theatre salary is about $46,280 a year and ranges from about $28,370 in Newfoundland to $52,720 in British Columbia and $62,410 in Alberta. The median theatre manager salary is about $39,300 and ranges from $29,500 to $50,430, bonuses included. Theatre managers oversee the work of facilities, production, and artistic departments, develop production budgets, and negotiate contracts. The average salary of audit film actors is around $63,440, and the pay ranges from $20,270 to $184,600. Audit film actors act for the camera, pose for stills, and audition for roles. Actors perform a variety of activities such as performing, attending castings and auditions, rehearsing, and learning lines. They play on the radio and in commercial productions, films, and plays. The average pay of actors varies by location and company. The National Film Board of Canada, for example, offers principal actors between $80 and $87 per hour while actors are paid between $54 and $60 per hour. The Canadian Media Production Association pays principal actors between $83 and $89 per hour.

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