Professionalism in Theatre

Jennifer Butler

  • Massachusetts Columnist

Just the other day I went on a job interview.  We all know that a passion for writing and the arts does not always pay very well, so I have been on the hunt to find a job that can help with paying the bills. 

Long story short, I arrived early for the interview and waited a half hour (15 minutes past my scheduled interview time) before the process began.  The person who was interviewing me shut off his office TV and his cell phone after I sat down, and over the course of the ten minutes that I was there, he used the phrase “My bad” multiple times. This was all after I found out that the marketing job I thought I applied for, instead, is a door to door sales job, which if it had been advertised that way, I would not have applied for at all. I wish I was making this up but I left there feeling like I just filmed a pilot for a new office comedy or was on one of those hidden camera shows!  I had been on interviews before but nothing as unprofessional as this one was. It got me thinking. Earlier this same week, I sat on the other side of the table, so to speak, when I was on a panel to help interview and decide on a director for my community theater’s spring play.

Being the interviewer and having little experience in this area, I wanted to make sure that I was polished and professional, that I represented this theater company well. So as usual my anxiety kicked in, being that I had only been in this situation once before about a year ago.  Leading up to the interviews, I had prepared for them, just as I do every meeting and interview that I attend. I made sure I had read the play and reviewed the prepared questions. I also obsessed over what I was going to wear. I wanted to be as professional as possible to best represent my community theater and all those involved with the show. 

The candidates came in one at a time, we asked all of them the same questions, discussed their vision for the show and their past experiences. The four of us on the interview panel interviewed with a common goal in mind; finding someone to work well at our theater, who had experience, and the ability to put on a professional show which our theater is known for.  

When we asked several candidates why they wanted to work with us, they responded “because I heard you are great place”.  They heard about our theater’s reputation, and that is what I think people would want; a place that you know is professional, puts on quality productions, and is a place people want to go back to.

The main point that I am trying to make is that as the interviewer, you should be professional and keep up the reputation of the theater or company that you are representing. You want the candidates to be excited about directing the shows, to give them a positive experience so that they want to come back and enjoy working for your theater or company. 

What it comes down to is that no matter which side of the table you are sitting on, whether it is for theater or for a day job, both sides need to make sure that the outcome is going to be beneficial to all those involved.