Performance Resume Tips from a Casting Director

By: Emily

I recently attended the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Region 5 in Lincoln, Nebraska with UMD’s production of Last Summer at Bluefish Cove. While attending the festival, I participated in several workshops, including one about performance resumes taught by casting director and Assistant Professor of Theater at Waldorf College, Dr. David S. Sollish. I thought I’d pass on the information for those who are interested in pursing a career in the performing arts.

The Basics

Performance resumes are much different than work resumes, but some basic elements are the same. Your resume should be no larger than 8 ½ by 11, should have no smaller than 10-point font and should include plenty of “white space” (consider 1.5 spacing). This resume should begin with your name in large point font, any unions you are apart of, agency you go through, and your eye and hair color as well as your vocal range, height and weight. The next section is your experience. Begin with professional credits (Broadway/ London credits, then Off-Broadway, then Regional credits), college credits, and community credits and consider having a separate film category. Within each of these categories, put your most prestigious roles first. You can end your resume with a category for training as well as special skills, then staple your resume to your headshot in the top left corner and trim your resume to fit your headshot.

Do’s and Don’t’s

  • Do put “upcoming” if you have been recently hired or are currently in production
  • Do include One Acts if they were preformed for the public
  • Do put down a number that is connected to a professional sounding voicemail that includes your name
  • Do include your website (which is a good place to include reviews of your previous performances)
  • Do separate college and professional credits
  • Don’t put scenes you have done, unless it was a special performance event
  • Don’t put “representative roles” or roles you would like to play
  • Don’t put your personal address (resumes for cattle call auditions are not always shredded)
  • Don’t lie about vocal range, training or special skills
  • Don’t put your age or age range on your resume
  • Don’t put the full name of the character if it is a well known play
  • Don’t put the name of the theatre space (ex- Marshall Performing Arts Center), list the institution that produced it instead

Headshots

  • should be redone every 2 years
  • should be on matte photo paper, not glossy
  • should be in color
  • should have 3-4 different shots/looks
  • should be simple (don’t go heavy on makeup, jewelry or patterned clothing)

Quality headshots typically cost between $400-600 dollars and should be taken by a headshot photographer. Make sure that you meet with your photographer beforehand to make sure you have good chemistry. You will need to be completely comfortable together for your photographer to capture your genuine self.

Questions Asked in the Workshop:

What if I played multiple roles in show? Consider whether the roles you played where part of a “normal track” for that particular play. If so you can put your most important role and “et al.” at the end. If not obvious,  put the name of your two most important characters followed by “et al.”.

How many resumes should I bring to a cattle call audition? 10-25

What is a phone service? In New York, actors might pay for a phone services instead of putting their personal phone number on their resume. In large cattle call auditions many resumes get discarded without being shredded so you may decide to use a phone service to protect this information and you should always avoid putting your address on your resume.

What are some special skills that I can include on my resume? These can include dialects, any instrument you can play, stage makeup, combat, driver’s license, any technical skills, yoga/Pilates, horse riding, sight reading, languages, juggling, puppetry, design, sports, impersonations and stupid human tricks. End your resume with a special skill that makes you stand out and that can be preformed on the spot.

What if I have personal boundaries or restrictions that I would like the director to be aware of, such as not being comfortable with nudity? These boundaries can be discussed in an interview, but they can also be put in asterisk and in bold under special skills.

What if I have experience in other aspects of theater? If you wear multiple hats, such as a director, technician, designer, etc. feel free to put “additional resumes in {lighting, sound, etc} available upon request” at the end of your resume.

Read Emily’s other posts

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