A resume can make or break your chances in any job, and that’s especially true in theatre. In order to get the parts, you need to have a killer theatre resume that gets you past the slush pile and fast-tracked to the roles you really want. In this article, you will find ways to optimize your theatre resume and present yourself as professionally as possible to agents.
11 Tips for Building a Theatre Resume to Get Only the Best Parts
Tip 1: Always List Your Theatrical Education
Any performance education you have absolutely belongs on a theatre resume. This is especially true if you attended a prestigious or recognizable school. The bigger the name, the more important it is to include.
Master classes, especially with well-known industry professionals, also count. Be sure to list what it was for, who ran it, and when and where you attended it. If it shows that you’ve studied with the best, it belongs on your theatre resume – agents will look at your training along with your actual work.
Tip 2: Leave Out Commercials
Commercials may be professional paid work shown on national television, but they do not belong on a theatre resume. It may be tempting to list them, as there’s a high likelihood that the people reading your resume saw the commercial. But resist the urge — commercial work tells the agent nothing about your ability to play a role.
When you’re listing your roles, limit it to scripted film, television, and stage performances. In other words, roles with a name. There are other times when the notoriety of a role will come into play, but commercials are never important enough to list.
Tip 3: Don’t Shy Away from Listing Obscure Work
If you’re just getting started in your acting career, you may not have anything that looks particularly notable or impressive to add to your theatre resume. That’s perfectly all right. Even if it’s something you doubt agents will have seen, it still speaks to how much experience you have. And in the modern age, it’s easy for an agent to get hold of an indie film if they really want to see your performance in it.
Besides, you never know; many agents have a fairly wide reach when it comes to what they know. The thing you consider obscure may have crossed someone’s radar in the past, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Tip 4: Avoid Listing Your Real Age or Weight
This may sound a little strange, but it’s actually quite important. Obviously on a theatre resume you will want to list the age range that you can play. However, listing your actual age can potentially enact an unconscious bias in agents. It’s best on your theatre resume to go no more detailed than what age range you’re capable of playing. Let them assume your age for themselves.
Also, avoid listing your weight, as weight is not necessarily an indication of body type and can be misleading. Feel free to list your body type — that’s generally how characters are described physically in scripts, anyway.
Tip 5: List Your Useful Skills
Can you speak multiple languages? Play an instrument? Do stunts? Anything else that might give you a leg up in playing certain roles? Be sure to list them on your theatre resume. This is especially true in musical theatre, where the ability to sing, dance, and do various types of acrobatic work comes in handy.
With languages, only list those you speak at an intermediate level or above. If you’re just learning an instrument and aren’t very skilled in it, resist the urge to pad your resume with it. Make sure to only add things you’d be prepared to do well on command.
Tip 6: Don’t Try to List Everything
You’ve probably had people tell you to list absolutely everything on your resume. This is good advice if you’re going in for a desk job, but it’s a bad idea for a theatre resume. There are certain skills and experiences that won’t interest an agent at all, and will just take up valuable space.
If a skill or experience does not visibly contribute to your worth as a performer, it is probably best to leave it off your theatre resume. For example, there’s very little point in listing previous non-theatrical jobs or schools. Remember: relevance first.
Tip 7: List Your Work by How Impressive It Is
The temptation — and potentially the logical method — would be to list credits on your theatre resume chronologically. While this would make sense elsewhere, you only have a limited amount of time here to catch an agent’s eye. List your work with the more impressive, better-known credits at the top.
And remember: it’s more about the project than your role in it. If you had a supporting role in a well-known film or series, list that before your headliner role in an indie film. This will help optimize your theatre resume and get them to keep reading.
Tip 8: Structure Your Resume to be Eye-Catching
Did you go to a prestigious school, but still don’t have any major acting credits to your name? Put your education section first on your theatre resume. Likewise, if you had a role in a blockbuster movie but went to a liberal arts school, put your credits first. As with the previous step, it’s all about what’s more impressive.
You have approximately twenty seconds to catch an agent’s eye. If they can’t glance at your theatre resume and see something that interests them immediately, they’re likely to throw it away without reading on. Put your best foot forward: lead with whatever about your acting experience thus far has the most name recognition.
Tip 9: List Anything You Understudied
Even if you didn’t make it onstage, being an understudy counts when it comes to work and talent. Always list anything you understudied for, with “u/s” next to the credit. If you actually did go on, feel free to note which performances.
Whatever you do, be sure not to forget that “u/s.” If it was a major production, someone reading the resume may have seen it and know you didn’t play the role. Leaving off that you were the understudy could be misinterpreted as you falsifying information, which will get your theatre resume thrown away immediately.
Tip 10: Bend the Truth, But Don’t Break It
This goes for writing any kind of resume, not just a theatre resume. Everyone’s had to do it on occasion: phrasing things slightly creatively to make them sound more impressive than they really are. If you have to bluff a little bit to make some experience sound noteworthy, then go for it.
But make sure that everything you say can be backed up. There’s a big difference between bending the truth and outright lies. If you’re asked about anything on your resume, you should be able to confirm the truth of it. Don’t change names, add nonexistent credits, or list a role as anything other than what it was.
Tip 11: The Nuts and Bolts
Now that we’ve covered the content of the resume, let’s look at the format. The paper on which your resume is printed should be trimmed to 8″ x 10″. Trim the paper as neatly as possible, so the edges sit flush with your head shot. Make sure the paper you use is nice quality, and staple your resume to the back of your head shot with two staples at the top.
If you have a talent agent, put their name and contact information at the top. If you don’t have one yet, leave room in the format to add one later. Put your name underneath (and your contact information if you are currently representing yourself). If you’re a member of an acting union, that can also be included at the top.
In short, the most important thing about building the best theatre resume possible is front-loading everything impressive wherever you can. Structure your resume based on which parts of your career have been most notable. Always put projects with the highest name recognition first, even if your role in them was smaller than your role in something less recognizable. This, combined with optimizing and triaging the information you supply, will help your theatre resume float to the top and get seen by the right people.
Images taken from pixabay.com.