Why We Teach: Jobs in Theatre Education

Why We Teach: Jobs in Theatre Education image

by Kate Lovelady, Director of Education, and Hannah Argüelles, Education Manager
Kate Lovelady, Director of Education

Kate Lovelady, Director of Education and Outreach

Years at Casa: Teacher since 2016, Director of Education since May 2018
School attended: Texas Christian University
Degree: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre
Age you started in theatre: Age 3 in creative dramatics class at Casa Mañana
Favorite musical: Les Miserables
One word why you love your job: Collaboration
Hannah Argüelles, Education Manager

Hannah Argüelles, Education Manager

Years at Casa: This is a fun one! I started as a Camp Counselor one summer while I was in college.  I loved it so much I came back the following two summers as the Music Teacher.  After graduating I came on as a Teaching Artist and am now in my second year of being the Education Manager. It’s been a fun journey for the last six years!
School attended: Oklahoma City University
Degree: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre for Young Audiences, Bachelor of Arts in Music, Minor in Directing
Age you started in theatre: I’ve been dramatic all of my life, started dance classes when I was 2, and started performing when I was 12.
Favorite musical: Into the Woods
One word why you love your job: Empowerment
What types of education jobs are there in theatre?
There are really two main routes you can take as a theatre educator. You can either go into education in schools or teach in a non-profit/after-school program. Most school districts have theatre programs in middle school and high school, although some districts, like Keller ISD, have a dedicated theatre teacher in every single school, K-12. What’s different about working in school, as opposed to a non-profit like Casa Mañana, is that the teacher really has to be a one-man or woman shop. You have to use all of the skills you studied in school, like sets, lighting, acting, stage management, etc., to create the whole product yourself, using your students of course, within the confines of the curriculum from the state.
As an educator in a non-profit setting, you can teach in multiple different theatres and be part of outreach programs that go into schools or community programs, like Boys and Girls Clubs. As a freelance teacher, you’re really making your own schedule, which is similar to a performer’s career; you’re really having to put yourself out there and make as much or as little as you want of it. This allows flexibility if you also desire pursuing a career in acting. Being a teacher is a huge asset, even if your primary goal is to be a performer or work in any other element of theatre. If you have desire to teach, it makes you more marketable wherever you go and you can always find a class to teach. And as an artist, it keeps you on your toes.
There are also full-time positions available in large, non-profit theatres. These positions often require you to not only teach some classes, but also work as an administrator where you are designing curriculum, creating a class schedule, recruiting students, and hiring teachers, which is what we do in the education department at Casa Mañana Studios.
What qualifications do I need to get a job in theatre education?
If your goal is to teach in schools, then you will need a college degree and a teaching certificate. If you have a degree in theatre, you can go back and pretty easily get a teaching certificate. Some districts will allow you to work for the first year and even pay for you to get your teaching certificate simultaneously.
As a teacher for a non-profit, most positions will ask for a degree in theatre. It’s a bonus if you have a degree in children’s theatre, but as long as you have theatre training, experience in an administrative position and/or a background working with children, you will be a strong candidate. Having a teaching certificate is helpful, but not required. The most important thing is how much experience you have with kids. The most successful theatre educators have worked with children and understand the developmental growth of a child.
Why is theatre education important?
Theatre education is important because it not only teaches students skills that will help them succeed on stage, but also in life. In theatre, you gain the benefits of a team sport because you’re working with a group to create a product. Every person, from the actors on stage to the set builders need to do their part to the best of their ability because all of these elements must come together to create a successful product.
In theatre, you are constantly exercising the creative part of your brain. You’re responsible for your own destiny. You’re the only one that can do your part, say your lines. If something goes wrong on stage, the director can’t come to your rescue. So, you learn to become a creative problem solver. Whether or not you become an actor, the confidence you gain from knowing you can solve problems, transfers into everything for the rest of your life.
Theatre provides a safe space for students to take risks and we, as teachers, make sure that they know it is okay to fail. Being vulnerable, and seeing your peers experiencing vulnerability, teaches you empathy and acceptance.
There are so many more benefits of theatre education that we actually wrote a blog article about it: Top Ten Benefits of Theatre Education.
What can I expect as a professional theatre educator?
If you work in a school, you’re working school hours, plus after school rehearsals and performances. If you work in a non-profit, our students are available after school and on the weekends. Our summers are full of camps because that’s when parents need activities for their kids to do. But, it’s not the same as when you’re a working actor or creative team member for full-time professional productions. Those shows typically run much later into the evenings with multiple shows on the weekends. We can still have relatively normal family lives. It’s not the most financially lucrative position in theatre, but it is steady. There are always going to be people that need education. Education is the thing that brings people to these professional theatres; it helps them raise money; and it is creating our future audiences.
We feel lucky to do what we do. Kids are incredible. No matter what type of day we’ve had, once we start teaching class, it completely changes for the better. It feels like we’re doing something that changes the world and that’s exciting.
Do you have more questions about jobs in theatre education? Please let us know by leaving us a comment!