Theatre Directing Courses

By Mariza Halliday - Last update

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What is Theatre Directing?

Theatre directing is the art of leading dramatic performances on the stage. The modern theatrical director is in complete charge of all the artistic aspects of a dramatic presentation.

A theatre director is in charge of the creative vision of theatre production. Their goal is to bring out the best performance from the actors and tell the story of the production in a compelling way. They also oversee creative choices on stages such as costume, design, lighting, and sound, although these decisions are made in conjunction with the other creative departments involved.

What 3rd level courses are available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering courses in Theatre Directing in the following subject areas:

  • Directing for Stage and Screen – Students will gain a thorough understanding of directing for stage and screen.
  • Introduction to Stage Management and Technical Theatre – This course is for anyone who is considering training in stage management or any of the disciplines associated with technical theatre.
  • Creative Drama and Theatre Arts – This course provides training in core performance skills.
  • BA In Theatre and Film Practice – This course will provide you with a solid grounding in the practical application of both theatre and film production skills.
  • QQI Level 5 Certificate in Theatre Performance -This is a practical course designed to help students understanding drama and theatre studies.
  • Musical Theatre – An opportunity to develop the fundamental techniques required to perform in Musical Theatre. 
  • Theatre Performance Course – The Theatre Performance course provides training in core performance skills.
  • The Greek Theatre – Study all aspects of Athenian drama in the fifth and fourth centuries BCE, from tragedy to comedy, including staging, contemporary audience, and later critical debates.
  • Performing Arts: Theatre Film & TV Acting – This course provides a rigorous and challenging programme of study, introducing learners to the various disciplines involved in working on stage, in film, and on television.

Studying Theatre Directing

Many courses in Theatre Directing may take place over a few days, weeks, or even 1 year to 4 years depending on the course and modules selected. There are also part-time courses and night courses available so you can be sure to fit in your studies no matter what your schedule is like.

Courses will cover theory work through lectures, assignments, tutorials, and taught modules. Assessments will take place continuously with written examinations and practical assignments combined to achieve a qualification.

You could also consider work experience or a work shadow in the industry. You could gain practical theatre experience in acting, stage management, and direction in amateur or fringe theatre, e.g. through youth theatre or a student drama society. Consider forming your own theatre company, this is a great way to learn about the directing process and how to work with actors and other members of a production team.

Relevant work experience is a good way of demonstrating a genuine interest in the field and is regarded favourably by employers. 

Work Experience will not only allow you to obtain a deeper knowledge and understanding of the industry, but it will also give you a chance to do some essential networking with other industry professionals and gain valuable contacts for the future.

Career options

After completing a Theatre Directing course you will be able to get started in a career that uses specific knowledge of theatre production and pre-production.

Theatre directors have responsibility for the practical and creative interpretation of a dramatic script or musical score. You’ll be involved in the whole process, from the design and pre-production stages, right through to the final performance.

You’ll work closely with creative and production teams, performers, and the producer to create a performance that connects with the audience. You’ll therefore need to be able to coordinate effectively across a range of disciplines and with artistic vision.

Some directors are also writers, designers, and performers and may write, devise, design, and act in their work.

Typical employers include producing theatres, where plays are programmed, rehearsed, and created (sometimes newly written) for that particular venue, or receiving theatres, which act as a venue for touring productions.

If you prefer to work in a less traditional environment, there are rewarding opportunities available in children’s theatre, community theatre, education, the events and festival field, fringe and alternative theatre, and even prisons.

Working hours will depend on whether you are self-employed, employed by a company with set business hours, or if you are contracted to various businesses or companies. Like most theatre artists, directors tend to work in bursts. Several months of intensive labour on a show culminate in the arduous final dash to the performance, followed by an abrupt transition to downtime, during which directors have the opportunity to relax, regroup, network, and acquire new skills before setting out on the next creative journey.

Related jobs include:

  • Theatre director
  • Film director
  • Theatre stage manager
  • Actor
  • Community arts worker
  • Choreographer
  • Dancer
  • Writer
  • Art Director
  • Drama therapist
  • Music producer
  • Music therapist
  • Arts administrator
  • Further education teacher
  • Higher education lecturer
  • Secondary school teacher
  • Special effects technician
  • Talent agent

Further study

After completing a course in Theatre Directing you may choose to pursue further study in a specialist field to increase your knowledge base and skill set. Postgraduate study can also be used as a means to change career focus or to gain professional qualifications required to practice in certain career areas such as Creative and performing arts, Drama and theatre studies, English literature, Philosophy, History, Psychology, Languages, and Music.


What skills could be helpful for a career in Theatre Directing?

Creativity and talent are a very necessary part of becoming a Theatre Director and you will need to have a solid commitment to your craft. Other useful qualities for a successful career as a Theatre Director include:

· Ability to manage a large group of people.

· Excellent negotiation and interpersonal skills

· The ability to work as part of a team and time management skills

· Persuasiveness and a willingness to take artistic risks

· Self-motivation and the ability to motivate and inspire others

· An awareness and understanding of technical issues, the workings of a theatre, and the process of performance and acting

· The ability to develop innovative ideas and to solve problems creatively and practically

· Organisational and research skills

· Knowledge of relevant health and safety legislation and procedures

Where can I study Theatre Directing?

Explore your options here

 Did You Know?

· The script of Dallas Buyers Club sat around for 20 years before being made into a movie. It was started and canceled 137 times.

· After Stephen Hawking saw the film, “The Theory of Everything” about his life, he sent the director an e-mail where he said that he loved Eddie’s acting. He also said that at times, he felt as if he was watching himself on the screen.

· It turns out that NASA shows Armageddon as part of the preparation for its employees. While watching the film, the future managers of the company are supposed to find as many mistakes as they can. According to some information, at this point, there are 168 mistakes. The biggest mistake is that NASA would never let non-professionals go into space because the risk is too great.

· Director Peter Weir wanted to have cameras installed in behind every theatre showing ‘The Truman Show’ and have the projectionist cut the power at some point during the film, cut to the viewers so they’d be watching themselves, and then cut back to the movie.

· Shawshank Redemption’s director and writer Frank Darabont was offered $2.5 million from Rob Reiner to let him write and direct it and cast Tom Cruise as Andy and Harrison Ford as Red. Darabont refused, saying that this was his “chance to do something great.”

Mariza Halliday

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