Do I need a degree to become a theatre director?

Mel is wondering if she should take an MA in directing or if it is better to start your own company.

​I’m just about to start my final year of an English and History BA at university, but am very involved in the uni theatre company (I’m directing the first play of our autumn season) and want to work in theatre when I graduate.

My ambition is, eventually, to be a director, and am considering doing an MA in directing. Will they accept me with a non-Drama degree and how useful is a postgraduate directing course in actually getting a job in the industry?

Is it better to start your own company from scratch or try and work your way up from the bottom in an established theatre or company?

— Mel

Expert answers

Amy Bonsall's reply:

‚ÄčAn MA in Theatre Directing is one way into the industry but make sure you research the courses very carefully to make sure they would be giving you the experience you want, and see what graduates of the course have gone on to do. Go and see as much theatre as you can and, if a particular director’s work really inspires you try writing to them for advice.

You could go down the route of setting up your own company; the ITC offer a great deal of invaluable advice, so do look at their website. You need to think about why you are setting up a theatre company though - what will your company be bringing to the industry, and to audiences? Why would they come to see your work rather than someone else’s? Look at other young companies and approach them for advice.

Think too about why you want to be a director, and look at the Regional Directors’ Scheme (the scheme at the Donmar) - if it truly is what you want to do then you can find a way if you are enterprising and committed. That said, it would be worth getting some practical work experience in theatre before you embark on either an MA or setting up a company!

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