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.

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Those Days When You Don’t Feel Good at Anything

By: Emily

Ever have those days when you feel like you’re failing to live up to your own expectations? For fellow perfectionists or for anyone who enjoys trying new things, this feeling is probably a familiar one. Learning a new skill is not always fun and it’s not always a graceful process. Sometimes it requires us to wobble along like babies learning to walk in front of onlookers that laugh heartily at our failed attempts. People generally avoid putting themselves in situations that might make them feel embarrassing or slightly incompetent, but by doing so they are missing out on the long-term benefits of taking a risk and trying something new.

When you are having one of those days that you don’t feel good at anything, here are four easy tips that may make you feel better:

1. Embrace the Beginner Phase

Whether it’s learning the guitar or learning about astronomy, accept that you won’t be the best or the smartest in the room. Accept that there will be a time when everyone will be giving you advice. Humble yourself and accept this advice with gratitude whether it’s helpful or not and whether it’s given to genuinely help you or to make the advice giver feel important. Accept that some people (hopefully very few) might enjoy seeing you struggle. Accept that you won’t always get positive encouragement, acknowledgement or any sort of pat on the back for trying. If you are able to fully embrace the beginner phase you will be better off for it.

2. Celebrate Small Victories

If you’re not having any fun, then you will probably give up prematurely. Focus on small, easily accomplished, goals and celebrate your small successes instead of getting discouraged contemplating on how much further you have to go. Every step forward is a step in the right direction and things will become easier and easier as you continue on. Keep some perspective and remember that it’s okay to laugh at oneself from time to time. Finding that lightheartedness and sense of play is invaluable in this process.

3. Be Kind to Yourself

Although we are often our own worst enemy, don’t put yourself down out loud or in your head. “Should have, could have, and would haves” will only make you feel worse. Own up to your mistakes, realize what could have been done differently and then turn the page. Practice positive self-talk instead of self-punishment. Studies have shown that positive reinforcement shapes behavior more effectively than punishment anyways. Identify your strengths and remind yourself that you are still learning.

4. “Don’t Stop, Don’t Give Up”

If all else fails, there are two things that always make me feel better after a long day of not feeling good at anything. One is watching this delightfully encouraging YouTube video.

And second is a quote that Christopher Robin once said to his friend, Winnie the Pooh: “Promise me that you’ll always remember that you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

Someday, you’ll look back and you’ll be glad you were brave enough to make those first clumsy beginner steps. They will be the stepping-stones that lead you to your current state of awesomeness.

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What Can I Do With a BA in Theatre?

By: Emily (an actual Theatre major!)

So, you’re pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre? Guess what? Congratulations! Whether you went through the qualification process or not, I commend you for following your passion for the performing arts, it is not a journey for the weak of heart.

If you are a Theatre student currently deciding which program to pursue, I hope this post find it’s way to you. As a student who went through the qualification process and experienced the BFA, as well as BA program, I feel passionate, also also obligated to write about this commonly misunderstood topic.

The downside of a BA degree in Theatre is that you do not have access to formal acting training and the classes available for those with a BFA degree. This does not mean you cannot pursue acting; in fact, there are many opportunities to act in community productions as well as in the Mainstage and Stage 2 shows at the University. In the real world, your degree matters very little in comparison to your talent and theatrical experience.

BA in Theatre

Benefits of a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre:

A true Liberal Arts Degree
As we are exposed to new experiences, we uncover parts of ourselves we never knew existed. Sometimes we find something we are passionate about and it becomes our identity and we don’t bother venture around the next bend. If you are pursuing a BA, you have the luxury of expanding your identity and finding more passion in unexpected places. Unlike many BFA students, you have the freedom to commit yourself to volunteering, studying abroad, joining student groups, attending campus and community events and seeking internships. If you are interested in acting, directing, playwriting or designing, these new experiences will increase your repertoire of ideas to draw upon and will only enrich your work. In fact, many graduate programs for directing, dramaturgy and playwriting prefer Bachelor of Arts students who have a broader liberal arts degree.

Make your own opportunities
The Bachelor of Arts program leaves you with a lot of freedom and that can be a little intimidating for those who are unsure of their direction and want more guidance. I promise that taking charge of your own education will benefit you in the long run. Bachelor of Arts students often have to make their own opportunities. Those who learn to be assertive and self-motivated can make the most out of the BA program and gain of level of independence critical for venturing into the theater world as well as other job markets after graduation.

So if you’re pursuing a BA and you’re not sure of your direction, here are some questions to consider:

  • Are you interested in pursuing Theatre professionally, or are you curious about other career paths? As a BA student, you will be graduating with a variety of different skills that are transferable to other fields. Many students are doing things other than theatre with their BA Theatre degrees, Chancellor Black is a great example of this!
  • Do you see yourself working for an art-based nonprofit organization, art camp or self-advocacy theatre? If so, is there a specific population that you’d like to work with (kids, adults with disabilities, teens, ex-offenders)?
  • Do you like the idea of teaching? Many people in the theatre world are educators at some point in their careers and many find this work artistically and personally rewarding.
  • Have you considered art or drama therapy? Although there are only a few credited graduate programs for this type of work, drama and other art therapies are becoming more commonly practiced.
  • How big of a role do you want theatre to play in your life (pun intended)? Would you be content participating in community theatre or will you live in a state of constant regret, wondering if you could have made it big time?
  • Is there a way to combine your various interests? If you do your research, you may be surprised what’s out there!

As always, please come visit Career & Internship Services if you need help brainstorming possibilities, securing an internship, checking out graduate schools, applying for jobs and deciding your major. We are here to be a resource to you!

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Joining the Peace Corps

By: Emily

Has the idea of joining the Peace Corps ever crossed your mind? Although it’s not for everybody, there are certainly many possibilities for those who might enjoy servicing the world in this way. The Peace Corps was established in 1961 by John F. Kennedy as a way to service other countries while representing Americans in positive light and introducing American citizens to other cultures.

Although many people like the idea of making a difference and traveling abroad, joining the Peace Corps is no small commitment. Volunteers agree to 24 months of service, including 3 months of in-country training in 139 countries across the globe. Once trained, a volunteer will be involved in one of six program areas: Education, Youth and Community Development, Health, Business and Information & Communication Technology, Agriculture, or the Environment.

Peace Corps logo

Although the idea of being a part of this may sound intimidating, there are some substantial benefits in doing this kind of work. Some organizations charge participants money to volunteer, but this opportunity is free of charge. Living expenses, transportation and in-country support are all paid for and a regular stipend is provided. In fact, volunteers with student loans can have Stafford, Perkins, direct and consolidated loans deferred or partially cancelled. Volunteers get two vacation days per month, a total of 48 days for the two years of service. If there is a family emergency, volunteers have access to free transportation back home. Once a volunteer is done serving, they are provided with adjustment funds and have employment advantages in many different kinds of federal positions.

If you are planning on joining after graduation, here’s what you should know:

You have to be a U.S. citizen and at least 18 years old to apply, but you don’t have to have any particular major or certification (although 90 percent of volunteers have undergraduate degrees). The process of joining Peace Corps includes an application, interview, nomination, medical and legal review, placement suitability and skill review, then an invitation and departure to your location. It is recommended that you apply 9 months to a year in advance of when you’d like to participate.

Keep in mind these highly sought after skill combinations:

  • Agriculture economics with or without a foreign language
  • Forestry with French
  • Environment with Spanish
  • Agriculture with Spanish or French
  • TEFL or TESL certification with classroom teaching (Teaching English as a Foreign Language)
  • Teaching credential (BA/BS)

If you do not possess these specific skill combinations you can make yourself a more competitive applicant by teaching English abroad, gaining experience in agriculture or educating yourself on health related issues through volunteer work. For more information check out the Peace Corps website at http://www.peacecorps.gov/.

If the idea of Peace Corps sounds a little overwhelming, but you are interested in volunteering, here are some alternatives to the Peace Corps:

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Speaker Daniel Seddiqui Coming Soon!

By: Emily

November is National Career Development Month and Career & Internship Services is helping sponsor a special event that will bring traveler, speaker and published author, Daniel Seddiqui to the University of Minnesota Duluth!

Daniel Seddiqui was a student like us, and after graduation from the University of Southern California in 2005, he was having a very difficult time finding work. In fact, he reports on his website that while seeking a full time position he failed over 40 interviews and became greatly discouraged. After this period of unemployment, he began volunteering and working jobs outside his area of study (Economics) and decided to go on an adventure to explore jobs around the United States. His goal is to travel in 50 weeks to all 50 states and work a job in each state that is representative of the state.

50 Jobs book cover

For example here are some of the jobs he has previously worked:

  • In Hawaii he was a Surf Instructor
  • In Wyoming he was a Park Ranger
  • In New York he was a Marketing Specialist
  • In Nebraska he was a Corn Farmer
  • In South Dakota he was a Rodeo Announcer
  • In Idaho he was a Real Estate Agent
  • In Florida he was a Park Entertainer
  • In Wisconsin he was a Cheesemaker
  • In Arkansas he was an Archeologist
  • In Virginia he was a Gardens and Grounds Keeper
  • In Michigan he was an Auto Mechanic

Daniel is an inspirational speaker as well as the published author of “50 Jobs in 50 States” which gives readers more in depth look at his atypical job exploration journey. Daniel Seddiqui is coming to speak at the University of Minnesota Duluth on November 6th from 4 to 5:30in Kirby Student Center Ballroom and will be discussing what he learned during this incredible expedition: Perseverance, Risk Taking, Adaptability, Networking and Endurance. This event is free and open to students, faculty and alumni. There will be a book signing immediately after this event. This is an excellent chance for students to learn about the benefits of turning struggles into opportunities and appreciate the diversity of the job market in the United States.

If you want to learn more about Daniel there is more information, photographs and videos on his website. You’ll be able to purchase his book prior to the event at the school bookstore or right at the event itself.

Event is co-sponsored by: Career & Internship Services, Kirby Leadership Institute, Office of Students in Transition, College of Liberal Arts, Labovitz School of Business and Economics, Office of Civic Engagement, Swenson College of Science and Engineering, Industrial/Organizational Psychology Club, M.A. in Psychological Science, and College of Education and Human Service Professions.

Hope to see you on November 6th!

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Advice on Transferable Skills from a Theatre Major

By: Emily

When I was a freshman, I came into college not really knowing what I wanted to do with my life. Now that I’m a senior, nothing much has changed. I will be graduating with a theatre degree with no intention of pursuing an acting career and psychology and art minors with no immediate plans on attending graduate school. I still don’t know what I want to do. What has changed is my outlook on the skills I have to offer, more specifically, transferable skills.

Transferable skills from Theatre

Being Present

There are few things more detrimental to the actor than being on autopilot. No matter what day you’re having, when it’s show time, it’s show time and you have got to deliver the very best you have. Sometimes actors and actresses perform in the same show twice a day for one or more years and even if they have said the same lines a hundred times before, it must sound fresh and new every performance. They are able to do this by striving to be in the moment, having a constant awareness of what is happening around them and listening and responding to the subtle changes in inflection and movement of the other characters.

One of the most critical transferable skill you can learn in life is to be an active learner rather than being on autopilot. Active learners are present, mentally as well as physically, are engaged in being investigative, asking questions and formulating their own opinion. Those who practice and build this skill in the classroom have a real advantage in the professional world.

Adapting

One thing that still amazes me about live theatre is that if a set piece crashes to the ground, if a prop breaks or if somebody is ill or injured onstage, “the show must go on.” With so many elements creating a composition, something is bound to go wrong every performance and usually it does. During these events, it is absolutely essential that the actors continue on and make sure that the story is being communicated to the audience.

Another transferable skill is being able to adapt to changes, being flexible and open to new ideas. Like most things, this comes with practice, and a good way to develop this skill is to accept when things do not go according to plan. When faced with an unexpected challenge, take a deep breath and focus on solving the problem, instead of focusing on your own disappointment. Sometimes these problems are blessings in disguise and teach you a new way to respond to a difficult situation.

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Back to School? Come Visit!

By: Emily

Have you come to visit UMD Career and Internship Services yet?

Stop by Solon Campus Center (SCC) 22 if you are:

  • Looking for a job/internship
  • Trying to figure out your interests and how they might fit into a major
  • Wanting to explore career options
  • Getting ready for upcoming job fairs and/or interviews
  • Wondering about graduate school
  • Wanting to get hired

Office Services

Now is the time to take advantage of some of the support and services we have to offer! In case you are unfamiliar with our office, here are our services in a nutshell:

Professional Career Counseling

Career Counselors are able to see your situation from a unique perspective and can give you guidance. They can show you tools that can make looking for a job or internship here or abroad, a lot easier. Whether you are making decisions about your major, graduate school, or your future career, our counselors can point you to resources that can assist you in navigating those difficult decisions.

StrengthsQuest, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Strong Interest Inventory

These assessments collect and organize data providing you with valuable insight into your own interests, strengths, or personality. StengthsQuest is a 30-minute assessment used to define your top 5 Strengths, or skills that come to you naturally. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a personality assessment developed by psychologists that can help you better understand your own preferences and patterns of behavior, such as how you make decisions and how you gain and maintain energy. Last but not least, the Strong Interest Inventory helps you pinpoint your interests and aligns them with career paths you might be interested in exploring.

Graduate Follow-up Report

Every year, our office calls recent graduates from the UMD and gathers information on where they are and what they are doing. By looking at the report, you can see what graduates are doing with their majors, where they are working and unearth a wealth of knowledge such as employment rates and average annual salaries.

Workshops (Interviewing, Getting Ready for the Job Fair, and Writing Personal Statements)

We provide a variety of free workshops that you can attend! These workshops are facilitated by our Career Counselors and Peer Educators and provide a good opportunity to get questions answered. Visit our events page to see when the next workshop is!

http://www.d.umn.edu/careers/events/index.html

Resume and LinkedIn/GoldPASS Drop-In Hours

Our Career Counselors and Peer Educators are available to help you get started or edit and make suggestions on your already existing resume and LinkedIn and GoldPASS accounts! All drop-in hours run 2-4pm in our office (SCC 22). Stop by with your quick questions.

  • Resume Drop-In Hours (every Tuesday & Wednesday during the academic year)
  • LinkedIn/GoldPASS Drop-In Hours (every Thursday during the academic year)

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