Once again we return to our series highlighting educational post-grad opportunities.

For today’s series we’re heading over to the midwest, to a great little city on the Ohio River; Louisville, KY.  Louisville is home to The Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, a highly respected theatre located in the heart of the city. Entering its 55th Season, Actors Theatre of Louisville, the State Theatre of Kentucky, is the flagship arts organization in the Louisville community.

The theatre offers the Professional Training Company, a program designed to help recent college graduates make the transition from academic to professional theatre. This competitive program results in excellent employment placement for its talented participants. The Professional Training Company (formerly the Apprentice/Intern Company) is one of the cornerstones of Actors Theatre’s commitment to education. A diverse company of 42 young theatre professionals participate in a full-immersion program focused on practical, experiential training. One of the tracks of this program is the Scenic Painting Apprenticeship.


Overall goal of the program

The goal of the Scenic Painting Apprenticeship is to allow young Scenic Artists to bridge the gap between their education and the professional world. It allows recent graduates to spend nine months in a fast-paced non-union scene shop learning the entirety of the scenic art process. Apprentices work alongside the paint staff during every step of production – from sampling to executing treatments for all 16 ATL productions. This gives them exposure to a wide range of faux finishes, textural materials, paints, and tools. In addition to the artistic aspects of scenic painting, the apprentice is able to observe the paperwork part of being a painter – budgeting, design and production meetings, maintaining a stock, etc. Seeing both sides of the job allows them to have a full picture of what being a resident Scenic Artist in a large regional theatre is like. In addition to functioning as a member of the paint shop, the apprentice is also a member of the Professional Training Company, which produces its own shows throughout the course of the season. On those productions, they have the opportunity to act as the Charge Artist, allowing them to put the knowledge they’ve learned day-to-day into action.

Teaching Philosophy

Given the program’s one-on-one approach, each Scenic Painting Apprentice’s lesson plan is designed to meet the apprentice’s specific needs and achieve their educational goals. Because so much of what is done everyday depends on the design of the production, the program advocates for the apprentice to take an active role in planning their education. During slower periods the instructors are able to guide the apprentice in whatever type of personal project they’re interested in – whether it’s painting on a particularly tricky material, learning a new tool, or wherever their interests lie. It allows the apprentice to gain experience in any type of project or technique that may not have been done during the regular season while gaining skills with the main stage productions.

What is unique about The Professional Training Company?

What’s great about the Actors Theatre apprenticeship is that it’s solely focused on scenic art. Apprentices spend their entire time in the paint shop, which allows them to get a much more in-depth education than if they were splitting their time among the various production departments. Actors Theatre is also home to the Humana Festival of New American Plays, a world-renowned event that has introduced more than 450 plays into the American and international theatre repertoire. The six-week festival culminates in two industry weekends, which bring down professionals from all over the country for panels, discussions and networking events, all of which are incredibly beneficial to the apprentices who are about to launch their careers.

Staff Artists

Rachael Claxton, Scenic Charge Artist
Colleen Doty, Assistant Scenic Charge Artist

Tuition Costs / Length of Program/ Scholarships

Members of the Professional Training Company receive a $5,000 grant divided up throughout the course of their apprenticeship. The program runs nine months, usually from the beginning of August through the end of April.

Degree / Certificate / Other

There is no degree associated with the Scenic Painting Apprenticeship, however having completed the program adds greatly to one’s portfolio and resume and opens up many professional contacts and opportunities.

If you’re interested in contacting the Professional Training Company, find more information here.

If you want to read about some of their productions featured on The Scenic Route find them here and here.

Are you aware of another great “On the Job” style training program/apprenticeship?  Please let us know in the comments below!



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