The book, which was published on 21st March 2013, is the essential guide for those who are interested in a career in theatre. Elkin, who has written over 30 books to date, is a former secondary teacher of English and has a plethora of experience to share with prospective thespians. Working in journalism since 2005 with The Stage, Elkin has developed a frank to-the-point style, which is apparent in her latest, easy-to-digest publication. In 2008, the National Skills Academy for Creative and Cultural Skills conducted a survey, which predicted that by 2017 the industry would be short of 30,000 skilled people to undertake backstage work for theatre and other live events.
Hence, the book underscores the competition for on-stage roles and stresses the need for other roles in theatre which are behind-the-scenes, such as playwriting, producing, stage management, admin, publicity and many more. It does, however, still cover what is required for a career on stage.
The book provides a realists' account of what an array of roles entail and suggests how one could achieve them, including recommending relevant training and courses in the UK. The book conveys these requirements through case studies which are provided by experienced professionals themselves. These experts describe how they got to be in the position they are in, which is useful for beginners as they are able to visualise the end result of the incremental steps recommended by Elkin.
The book acts a pragmatic guide for students, parents, teachers and careers advisors alike, as it explicitly conveys the wide range of options which are open to young people. It is broken down in to three parts. Part one, First Steps, emphasises the need to grab every opportunity to 'do' theatre in the years before vocational training, which in many cases means during school through volunteering. Meanwhile Part two, Anything but Acting, shows the many different jobs in theatre which are available. It suggests a combination of careers in order to succeed in the backstage field of theatre. For example, those who are considering a career in hairdressing, and have an unequivocal love for theatre, could join the two and work in wigs and hair within theatre. Finally, part three, Acting - If You Really Must, describes the routes to take towards a career on stage and how you might fund the training for this career. The book concludes by presenting a number of part-time class providers as well as training routes in the UK.
David Farmer, Drama Resource, says "[Susan Elkin's] book provides a clear overview of work opportunities in and around theatre and really should be available to young people across the country."
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