What makes a great program bio?

What makes a great program bio?

YAY you’re in a show.  Double YAY you scored a program bio! In the professional world a bio is all about your past role highlights and relevant training.  This however doesn’t always apply when it comes to community theatre.  A good production crew (usually the publicist) will be clear with you about the vibe they are going for in the program.  They’ll often have a form for you to complete with (hopefully clear) instructions as to what information they require from you for your program bio.

5 elements to include when writing a bio for community theatre

  • Most recent work

Easy for the pros but not always the case in community theatre, don’t be afraid to shout out proud that this is your first leading role.  If you’ve had a hiatus, just note past performances no need for the dates OR sell this role in as your ‘coming out of retirement comeback’ performance and talk up the previous date to let them know you still have it in you even after ‘all these years’
  • Muggle job

People love to know that you are part of their actual community in everyday life.  By day you are a doctor/architect/teacher or dog groomer?? Let them know you are in many ways just like them.  It’ll create relatability and connection with the audience/reader.  I’ll never forget the first time it dawned on me as a young student that I could be on the stage with the cast doing what I was watching…..it wasn’t a dance mum or performance teacher it was a program bio that taught me that when I read that the leading man was a Butcher (RIP Brownie xx)
  • Training

Unlike the pro’s many of us haven’t as much as taken high school drama.  You may have however worked back stage or FOH for many years or even just been attending shows all your life like I did (I was a late started at 28!).  All your roles are noteworthy and have brought you to where you are now.
  • Strongest/Favourite roles

If you are a seasoned performer, only include your best or favourite roles in your bio.  Please for the love of Shakespeare write descriptively in sentences.  Don’t just rattle of a long list of roles….this could be a matter of opinion here but I don’t find it impressive……yawn
  • Personality
Even a traditional bio will include at least one personal insight (‘… plays first trumpet with the local brass band’), though they rarely include gratitude’s e.g. “I want to thank my mum, dad, second cousin’s babysitter etc” they save that for awards acceptance speeches.  But in the community theatre your personal life is often a bigger part of who you are than your performing life.  The logistics of juggling full time work, study and family can make it a truly epic feat just to get to rehearsals each week let alone the commitment of show week!  As such, by all means you could give a heartfelt thanks to the ‘show widows’ or work colleague caffeine providers who helped make it happen.  Don’t ramble, short and sweet is all you need for true authenticity.

2 hottest tips for writing a community theatre bio

  1. Ask
The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask Check with your production team what they want.  Fun? Serious? How many words? Do they want your career highlights or something more personal?  Is there a funky vibe going on to match the production e.g. a rap sheet for a cell block tango girl?
  1. Be radical

Unless your publicist has requested a specific format for your bio, mix it up a little.  This is one area in community theatre you usually get a little creative licence.  Run with it, be you, be unique and you’ll have the best bio on the block. I love the cell block tango girl rap sheet idea. Have you seen any other great themed programs?
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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Thank you…some very good tips. A reminder to have a number of different types of bios to choose from and to be able to pull up quickly. Usually they are the last thing on your mind when the request comes through and deadlines to meet.

    1. Thanks Denise for adding another tip!

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