Mary Shelley: A Biography
How to Write a Theatre Biography
If you're involved in a musical or play, you may be asked to write a biography (“bio”) about yourself for the show's playbill. A bio is a short summary that introduces you to the audience and, potentially, to industry professionals. Your bio should highlight your past working experiences, schooling, and information about your interests and life outside of the production. Keep your bio brief and to the point, and ask someone to proofread it once you’ve written it.
Conforming to Bio Writing Standards
Write in the third person.Theatrical biographies are always written in the third person, even though you are usually the one writing it. Introduce yourself using your full name, then utilize pronouns when referring to yourself throughout.
- For instance, instead of writing, “I am a student at Brighton College,” write, “Jane is a student at Brighton College.” Use “he” or “she” in following sentences.
- The following example marks third person language with an underline, "John Smithis a graduate student in playwriting at XYZ University.Hehas acted in..."
Keep it short.Theatre biographies are always brief. If you see opportunities to reduce excess information or simplify language, do so. Being too long-winded is common and usually requires you to edit down your bio. Get it right the first time by keeping everything concise and to the point.
- If you’re in a lead role or expected to produce a longer bio, keep your paragraphs roughly three sentences long.
- Use active voice to keep content clear. For example, "She was encouraged by her family to pursue acting" would be stronger as "Her family encouraged her to pursue acting."
Employ professional language.Avoid informal prose, inside jokes, and snark. For instance, do not write, “Wow, this is gonna be a great show, LOL!!!” Instead, use proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
- It is acceptable to throw a joke into your bio, but keep it brief and avoid inside jokes. You don’t want to come across as unprofessional to readers or audience members.
- Some members of the audience may be connected to the theatrical community. A professionally written bio will give these people a favorable impression of you.
Edit your bio.Once you’ve written your bio, turn it over to a trusted friend or colleague with a sharp eye for grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Double check the names of plays, theatres, organizations, and roles you’ve referenced in your bio.
- If this is your first time writing a bio, ask the director, producer, stage manager, or a more experienced actor to look over yours. These people will be more knowledgeable about theatrical bio writing.
Including the Crucial Information
Consult the theatre company you’re writing the bio for.All theatre companies set a word limit for bio length. To ensure you’re keeping your bio within the accepted limit, consult your director, producer, or an authoritative member of the crew before penning your bio.
- In addition to a word limit, some theatre companies provide templates for your bio, limiting you to discussing only certain things.
- Some theatre companies have rules regarding what information you can and cannot include in your bio.
Introduce yourself and your credits.If you’ve never been in a production before, lead with this information. Say something like, “This is Jane’s theatrical debut.”Otherwise, simply write your name and involvement with the production. After that, write out your credits, which are your most acclaimed roles.
- Avoid listing every production you’ve ever been in.Instead, focus only on your proudest or most impressive work.
- Write a list of your most popular or critically acclaimed roles. Use this list to help you decide which roles to cite.
- Refer to your resume if you have trouble recalling roles or remembering which were strongest.
List some things you do outside of theatre.Depending on your level as an actor, you may need or want to fill your bio with some extracurricular activities. Include anything from volunteer experiences to sporting leagues you participate in.
- If you’re writing a bio for an amateur theatre production, you’ll probably also include information about your vocation.
- If you’re a student, mention this by saying, “She is a student at the Acme University.” This is especially appropriate if you’re studying theatre or drama with the aim of becoming a professional actor.
List previously played characters by name.Do this only when you played a lead role. If you were a chorus member or an unnamed character in a production, you can still refer to this experience in your bio, but do not name the character. Lead roles should be listed along with the production.
- An example of listed minor roles might look like, "John has been involved inThe Miracle Worker,Jesus, Son of Man, andShowdown at the Sugar Cane Saloon."
- A mix of minor and lead roles could be written, "Jane has appeared inMy Fair Lady,Fiddler on the Roof, and as Fantine inLes Misérables."
Including Optional Information
Mention important events and experiences in your life.This will vary from person to person. For instance, you might write a sentence about where you were born or that you’re the father of two children. Reflect upon your own life experience to determine what special details you'll add.
- Significant life changes, like graduating with a degree in engineering before pursuing acting, can help you connect with the audience better through your bio.
- Specialized training you received, like a workshop class in physical theatre by famed mime Marcel Marceau, can illustrate your accomplishments and the range of your skill.
- Your involvement with theatre related activities, like a youth theatre outreach, can show readers the kind of person you are without being heavy handed.
Incorporate interesting personal facts.You might be a chess master or a collector of rare comics, but the audience will never know if you don't tell them in your bio. Perhaps you want to include a tidbit about recently returning from living abroad. Whatever personal facts you choose, try to limit these to a single sentence for simple bios.
- Longer bios, like those for leading parts of major productions, may require a few paragraphs of information. In this case, you might use a few sentences of personal facts.
- Highlight facts that give readers a deeper idea of you as a person. For example, you might write, "John is an avid gardener and hiker," which conveys a natural, rugged sense to readers.
Use caution when expressing gratitude.Some theatre companies have explicit rules forbidding expressions of gratitude in the biographies. If you do choose to include an expression of gratitude, keep it brief and limit it to your family, your cast and crew, or both.
- In some situations, it may be suitable to thank a mentor or teacher in your bio, especially if that person is respected theatrically.
- Thanking your family in your bio can sometimes give the impression that you're inexperienced. Serious actors may want to avoid doing this.
Sample Theatre Bios
QuestionThis sounds so formal. Is there any way to make it more personal?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIncorporate something funny, while not getting off-topic or too carried away.Thanks!
QuestionI made the program flyer and forgot one actor's bio. How can I fix it?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerJust print out an extra insert for the program with that actor's information. Make it the same size as the program.Thanks!
In a play program do you always need a list of actors?
To write a theatre biography, introduce yourself in the third person, using your full name, and a brief explanation of your involvement with the production. After that, describe your acting credits, or your most acclaimed roles. If you like, you can also include a few of your hobbies outside of the theatre. Keep your bio to about 2-3 sentences, and use active tense throughout the piece to keep the content engaging.
Video: How to Write a Biography for Your Band
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