Difference Between Producer & Director in Theatre

Producers and directors in theatre work with actors, cast and crew to enact a script for an audience. While they share some tasks, these two occupations have some unique differences, which you will read about below.

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Comparing Producers to Directors in Theatre

Both directors and producers work with actors and other stage support staff to create a performance that impresses an audience. While producers focus on the financial aspect of a play, directors home in on the creative placement of actors, sets, and other elements of production. Keep reading to find out some similarities and differences between these theatre-centered careers.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2016) Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Producer Bachelor's degree $60,820 (for all producers and directors in performing arts, spectator sports, and related industries)* 9% (for all producers and directors)
Director Bachelor's degree $44,859** 9% (for all producers and directors)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale

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Responsibilities of Producers vs. Directors in Theatre

Producers and directors are both directly involved in how a theatre performance takes places, but in different capacities. Producers are in charge of the finances and ensure that the production is ready in time for opening day. They sit and watch auditions as well as rehearsals, but they also make day-to-day final decisions about a play's finances. Directors, like producers, watch auditions and rehearsals, but they are more involved in what the actors do on stage. Directors also work closely with the crew to make sure the set and costumes are accurate to the vision of a play.

Producer

Producers oversee the entire production of a stage play, from hiring the director and crew to promoting and publicizing the event. They usually work behind the scenes to ensure that the play has a sufficient budget, which they make sure stays on track. Producers may sit and listen to auditions, helping to select the cast. Since their job includes making sure the project stays on track, they may also sit and watch rehearsals. Producers usually work long hours at inconvenient times, such as at night, to make sure a play gets finished on time.

Job responsibilities of a Producer include:

  • Researching topics unique to a play
  • Communicating with members of a theatre production
  • Choosing the play script
  • Making sure directing is coordinated well
  • Raising money to pay for a theatre production

Director

Directors in a theatre production are closely involved with everything that an audience sees on a stage, from what the actors say to what the set looks like. To do this, they work in tight coordination with every member of the cast and crew, including set designers, costume designers, and makeup artists. They make sure their actors give a believable and engaging performance. The bottom line for directors is that they oversee all creative elements of a theatre show, but they must account for most of what they do to the producer. Directors usually must work at many inconvenient times, like on weekends and holidays, to pull off a strong production. They may also have to travel long distances if their show travels.

Job responsibilities of a Director include:

  • Supervising the lighting crew
  • Writing cue cards to help when actors forget lines
  • Coordinating with the sound crew
  • Listening effectively to cast and crew members
  • Making sure the play stays on track with what was originally envisioned

Related Careers

If your'e interested in becoming a producer in theatre, you might also consider being a technical producer, because both involve overseeing important aspects of a production. Those attracted to the idea of being a theatre director might also like the idea of being a playwright, because playwrights must consider different aspects of stage productions while writing a play.

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