What Do You Do With A B.A In Theatre: What is my life going to be?

Lisa Hornick

  • OnStage New York Columnist

To be honest with you, I can’t really tell you just yet. I’m only a college sophomore and I’m taking theatre classes, learning all of these skills I never knew I had to obtain to work in theatre. 

And you know what? It’s making me more excited to start working in the field. 

But there’s one thing I can definitely tell you: It’s not going to be easy. 

When you type “Highest Paying Majors” into a search engine and read the articles associated with that search, 99 percent of the time theatre is not on that list. Usually and unfortunately, theatre is on the “Lowest Paying Majors” list. I’m asked constantly what I’m going to do with this degree, told to have a backup, and how I’m going to need to marry someone to support me. Theatre is not a field you want to enter if you want a steady job for more than ten years and a high salary.

That’s because the industry is constantly changing and moving and you have to make some sacrifices to stick with the lifestyle that will make you happy. I might have to live paycheck to paycheck every once in awhile, travel to where the work is, and sometimes work another job on the side, but as long as I’m working in the wonderful creative environment known as theatre, I’m okay with that. I’m okay with it not being easy because I’m pursuing something I’m passionate about and I love. Someone, who’s a theatre major, once said to me, “The work is out there and it will come.” It will come if I work my heart out, put my skills to good use, market myself to the right people, and stay dedicated. I might get tons of no’s before a yes comes around, but you have to have it in your mind that if it’s meant to be, it will be. 

And this applies to all prospective, current, or graduated theatre majors: Don’t give up on something you’re passionate about because someone tells you that you can’t live your life that way. You can do so much with a theatre degree, just do your research and find your niche in the field that best fits you. There are quite a handful of fields in theatre that bring in steady work and a decent paycheck! Whether it be designing a set, stage managing, teaching, sewing a costume, or performing a monologue, theatre is different in all ways and every rehearsal and performance is different! I mean, who wouldn’t want to work on something different and unique while hopefully inspiring people’s lives everyday. I know theatre inspired mine. 

I hope that one day I’m lucky to say that I’ll be working in the field that I’m passionate about and putting my B.A to good use. Do what you love and you won’t have to work a day of your life.  

P.S- If you get the Avenue Q reference, kudos to you! 

Photo: Production photo from Gone Missing from the 2010-11 season, by Steve Cosson, artistic director of the New York City ensemble, The Civilians, with music and lyrics by Michael Friedman.  Gone Missing was selected for the Region III Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in January of 2012. hope.edu