1st Edition

The Adaptable Degree How Education in Theatre Supports the Economy of The Future

By Melanie Dreyer-Lude Copyright 2025
    120 Pages 22 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book uses a mixed methods research study of the career experiences of theatre graduates in the U.S. to provide data on employment patterns and job satisfaction.

     Using a population of over 1000 participants, this study examines where graduates were working, how their careers had changed over time, which skills acquired with their theatre degree were being used in their current employment, and whether they believed their course of study was worth the financial investment given their current circumstances. Evidence from this study indicated that a theatre degree provided many of the skills the employment market is currently seeking and that theatre graduates were gainfully employed in multiple sectors of the economy.

    This book provides important data-based, field specific information for chairs, deans, provosts, and politicians, as well as students and parents, at a time when arts and humanities departments across the country are under threat of elimination.







    Chapter 1: Passion versus Practicality

                Do I need a college degree?

                The reality of being an arts grad

                What employers want

                Passion can lead to prosperity

                What the survey told us

                In summary


    Chapter 2: Patterns of Employment

                Four employment scenarios

                The trajectory of a career in the arts

                Seeking employment in a shifting job market

                Where are arts grads working?

                The Creative Trident redefined

                What the survey told us

                In summary


    Chapter 3: Skills for All

                A graduate who shifted careers

                The predominance of shifting careers

                The importance of transferable skills

                How theatre training delivers

                What theatre training looks like

                What the survey told us

                In summary


    Chapter 4: Value versus Expense

                The loss of public faith

                The student as a customer

                Earning potential as a decision-maker

                The cost of an education

                The neoliberal paradigm

                The challenge of performance indicators

                The reality of program cuts

                Politicians and the academy

                What the survey told us

                In summary



    Chapter 5: Changing the Message

                The academy must adapt

                The challenges we face

                What an arts degree already offers

                Expanding our curriculum

                How other sectors benefit from arts education

                The threat to theatre departments

                Our training focus must shift

                Recommendations for change

                What the graduates in this study told us

                In summary




                Research framework

                Research design

                Sampling strategy

                Data collection

                Data analysis

                Limitations and assumptions

                Recommendations for future research










    Melanie Dreyer-Lude is an American theatre artist/scholar, born and raised in Denver, Colorado. She specializes in international theater collaboration and multidisciplinary projects. She is a professor in the Department of Drama at the University of Alberta and lives and work in Edmonton, Alberta Canada.