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Careers: Acting, Performing, Directing/Is Chicago too competitive for a beginning actor?


Dr. Plonkey,
I have thus far enjoyed reading your blog, your website, and some of the answers you have given on this site and others.  I appreciate your honesty and "tough love" approach to giving advice. I am a beginning actor (over 18 years of age) who has limited training and experience but am interested in getting involved more heavily with acting. My family is moving to the Chicago area in the near future, and I am thinking about moving with them in order to take advantage of the rich theatre tradition that Chicago has to offer (I live in a very small town right now).  I am hoping to get some training there and more importantly (as you have noted) gain some experience acting in amateur theatre.  My question to you is, even though Chicago is not NYC or L.A. (where you have discouraged beginning actors of going because of the large amount of unemployed and struggling actors packed "wall to wall"), do you feel Chicago is still too big/competitive etc. for a beginning actor like me to gain meaningful experience (since it is probably the second largest "theatre" city in the U.S. behind NYC)?  Would it be better for me to instead relocate to a smaller city?   I have to admit that I would enjoy having (not necessarily for acting, but for everyday life purposes) the emotional and (possible) financial support of my family close by if I lived in Chicago.  Thanks in advance for the reply.


Hi Nate.  Chicago has some good acting studios and a great many community theatres in which one could gain experience. Much is going to depend upon your finding one or more of these theatres where you can participate.  Chicago is home to the famous Goodman School of Theatre, connected to De Paul University.  To be honest with you, I do not have a great deal of information on theatre opportunity in Chicago. I have a feeling that outside of community theatres opportunities are pretty much closed to professionals or those who have agents.  I would get a copy of Acting As A Business by O'Neil, and follow his precepts for getting an agent.  I don't think there is a smaller city for you to get stage experience in -- San Francisco and Atlanta are both good. My advice is to do everything you can in Chicago to gain experience, amateur plays, student and indy films, extra work, and by all means work on getting an agent.  Write to be at the contact area on my web site as you work  your way through Chicago as I am very interested in how it goes for you.  God bless, Doc

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Kenneth D. Plonkey


Questions about acting and directing. Questions about getting started in a careeer. Questions about training and schooling for actors.


I am a retired film actor. I am a retired university theatre program director and professor. I am the author of "The Tao of Acting, Mentoring for the Aspiring Actor" to be published this summer.


BA, MA, PhD in Theatre Post graduate study with certificate in Media Acting

Awards and Honors
John Golden Traveling Fellowship

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