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Perhaps of all creative careers examined in this section, acting is the most difficult from which to carve a successful career. The stereotype of the penniless actor may not be exactly accurate, but acting is a precarious profession and graduates need to steel themselves for long periods of unemployment. There are several other branches of the acting industry that offer interesting and worthwhile careers such as drama teaching, writing, direction, production/artistic design, arts management/promotion, and more.

Theatre, Drama and Performing Arts courses at higher level are available from a number two institutes of technology (Dublin, Sligo) and four universities (NUI Galway, Trinity College, UCC, and UCD).
A useful guide to making your CAO decision is the varying degree to which these programmes specialise in actor training/performance skills, as opposed to the theoretical study of theatre, which can lead to related careers in drama teaching, theatre criticism, or academia for instance.

Practical performance modules focus on skills such as movement (combat, dance, etc); verbal acting (voice projection, singing, etc. ); and various acting techniques such as improvisation and acting to camera. Students are also often taught various production skills, such as directing, playwriting, stage/costume design, and production management. Students also learn how to work, and act, as a team, with classes putting on regular performances for their peers, the public, and industry professionals.
Higher education programmes also include theoretical studies that examine the theatre in historical, social, and educational contexts. Students examine particular genres, such as Shakespearean and contemporary Irish drama, as well as learning to critically evaluate both the performances of others, and their own. Early CAO entry, interviews and auditions are typical requirements; check with the college in question for details.

An interesting new course that appeared in 2009 is Dun Laoghaire IADT’s BA (Honours) in Design for Stage and Screen. This four-year programme incorporates three specialised disciplines – Production Design & Art Direction; Make Up Design, and Costume Design – and prepares graduates for stage and screen careers. Applicants are required to provide a portfolio of work.
Further education also provides plenty of vocational training opportunities for would-be actors and other theatre professionals, with the Level 5 Certificate in Theatre Performance.

Widely available in varying forms around the country, this course works on the student’s acting abilities and theatrical knowledge, while also providing valuable practical skills such as stage management and event production.

The Work
Most fledgling actors must find work where they can before hitting the ‘big time’. This can mean playing roles or working as extra in areas such as community/fringe theatre, corporate productions, independent films and TV commercials. The competition is always tough for any role, no matter how small, so a plenty of determination is required.
Set designers create the sets used in plays and TV and films. They must work closely with the director and playwright in realising their vision, and are often required to work with technology (lighting, sound, etc) in creating special effects. Artistic talent and the ability to work with their hands are thus useful attributes. Stage managers are the logisticians of a theatrical production. They make sure everything runs smoothly, from rehearsals to scene changes, and ensuring a performance runs smoothly without any technical hitches.

Did you know?
Fear once surrounded Shakespeare’s Macbeth, traditionally believed to be an unlucky play after a long history of mishaps befalling cast members. It is still superstitiously referred to as ‘the Scottish play’.

Further Resources

The Abbey Theatre: www. abbeytheatre. ie

Irish Actors Guide: www. irelandactorsguide. ie

Irish Playwrights & Screenwriters Guild: www. script. ie is a national database of universities, colleges, institutes and providers of third level and PLC courses in Ireland. We operate a national search database of courses at certificate, diploma and degree level as well as providing information about career paths and directions.
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