What is the difference between community theater and regional theater?

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  • 1 month ago
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    In the US, community theater is non-professional.  Actors, designers, directors are usually from the local community and are non-union. Often they volunteer their time (but occasionally they may receive some small compensation). Actors who are members of the Actor’s Equity Association (AEA) cannot perform with a community theater without special permission from the union.

    Regional theater is professional and in most cases are union (meaning they have agreements with actor, designer and director unions concerning pay and work conditions).  Preference for roles will be given to actors who are part of the union (or part of the Equity Candidate Membership program working toward union eligibility).  Actors are not necessarily from the area, but are hired from regional auditions and work with the theater for the season.

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    1 month ago

    Community theatre is often operated by people who may be talented and dedicated, or may not be, but who are all volunteers. There's no pay for production people or actors, and the money for sets, costumes, performance rights, and the venue come from fundraising as much as ticket sales.

    Regional theatre tends to be funded on ticket sales and generous donations from individuals and businesses, sufficient to hire actors who are members of Equity, the union for stage actors. (Sometimes kids in speaking parts are not members, but everyone else is.) The level of performance as well as set design, costumes, and all else that goes into staging a play, are fully professional.

    I've been a season ticket holder at a regional theatre for many years. I also get to NYC once a year and occasionally to London. The quality of the shows at the regional is every bit as good as the "big time" shows, although the actors are not stars. (But I see plenty of "Hey, that guy!")

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