This is basically what I tell people about working in Boston...
Each artistic community has its own unique characteristics. One organization that's unique to Boston is StageSource, and I advise anyone working in the Boston area in any theatrical capacity to join this organization immediately. StageSource is a service organization that provides a centralized stream of information about auditions, workshops, jobs, and other opportunities, as well as a source of comps and/or discount tickets for various productions by member organizations (the cost of membership is more than made up for in free tickets very quickly). Their organization members include everyone from LORT houses to community theatres. They also host various events encompassing everything from professional development to networking and beyond, and they have a script library in their offices downtown that is open to members (and they give away their duplicate scripts when they pile up). It's an incredibly useful organization that really does a lot for the theatre community. Again, if you want to work in theatre in Boston, a StageSource membership is one of the best investments you can make. It's a phenomenon unique to Boston that is really well suited to the size of the city.
Thing Two: Get Involved With the Small Theatre Alliance of Boston
Also very important is the Small Theatre Alliance of Boston. Now I'm writing as a newly elected board member with a special interest in student outreach, so pay attention. The small theatre scene in Boston has exploded in recent years. One amazing phenomenon in this market is that an artist can work in a wide range of venues in the same season, meaning that they might be with one of the nationally famous companies for one show, and then do something for a 40-seat theatre immediately following. And be happy about it because the work they are doing is fulfilling and amazing. Because the type of work I tend to do the most (writing and fighting) tends to be the least rehearsal intensive, I have the ability to work with a wide variety of people in a wide range of venues. I can tell you that the small theatre scene is an essential part of the cultural ecology of this region, and is doing some of the bravest work out there. Lately there has been a rise in sense of community between these organizations, and being involved with the Alliance is a great way to know what's going on and figure out what type of work you want to do. We host events ranging from Open Mic Night (a play development program that I've blogged about at some length before), to panel discussions, to social mixers.
Thing Three: Go See As Many Shows and Events As You Can (But Make Sure You Are Still Having Fun)
We do this sort of work because we love it. Seeing what different organizations are doing will help you grow as an artist, familiarize you with what the different companies are doing, and make you a more attractive collaborator. All other things being equal, people who are making casting and/or staffing decisions will be more likely to hire someone who showed up to see and support their previous work. Also, if theatre is really something you want to do, you should be trying to experience it as an audience member as often as possible. A good friend of mine says that nothing prevents a person from seeing theatre more than working in theatre. That is partially true, but whatever show you are working on isn't playing every night, and when you get the chance to support other productions, do it.
Also, networking is not a dirty word. Theatre is a collaborative art and communities are built on relationships. Networking means getting to know who is in your artistic community and who you might be collaborating with in the future. If you are seeing a show and there is a talkback, stay for the talkback if you can. Many opening nights have receptions. Go to them. If you enjoyed someone's work, tell them. They appreciate hearing it. There is a great event/organization in the area called Opus Affair. It's worth your time to check it out.
Support new work by seeing it when it does get produced, and going to readings when you have the chance. New work is one of the riskiest ventures a theatre can take, but without new plays the theatre would fizzle out and die. Many companies do readings. If you're an actor or director, it's often an easy way to get involved, if you're a writer, find out what their submission policy is. Again, you'll have an easier time of it if you're familiar with the company's work. A great organization that supports new work is Playwrights Commons. Get to know them.
Get to know your community both by seeing as much of its artistic output as you can, and by finding out when events are happening and getting yourself to them. I'm making a point of discussing service and community organizations in this post rather than producing companies. You can find plenty of companies through the umbrella organizations, and once you start getting involved you'll discover companies on your own (or people will mention them in the comments).
Other Things to Think About:
Many people come out of school without having been taught the accepted etiquette and protocols for the hiring process of their field. If you are an actor and no one has ever taught you how to audition, make a point of finding out how it's done. If you are a writer, director, stage manager, or dramaturg, learn what a cover letter should look like. If you are invested in a discipline that requires a portfolio, find out how it should be arranged.
None of this information is hard to find.
There is a local tendency to set New York City up as this great adversarial rival. Do not buy into it as it is a one-sided toxic waste of energy that benefits no one. Leave my home town alone. Boston is not New York. New York is not Boston.
Be familiar with the social media presence of the artistic community. Follow the people and organizations that interest you on twitter. Like their pages on Facebook and GooglePlus. Join in to online conversations. Stay friendly and professional when you engage anyone on social media. Read local theatre blogs. Read national and international theatre blogs.
Do not over-commit yourself. It is far better to do one project well than three poorly. You do not need to say yes to everything that comes your way. Have a life outside of your work.
If you form a company, have a plan.
Be Aware of the Other Arts
There is a music scene in this city. And many areas host Open Studios events. And there are several major museums in the area. National tours come through here. And there are dance companies. We do not exist in a vacuum. Know what else is out there.
What also might be of special interest to theatre types is the fact that the film industry in Boston is becoming more and more prominent.
There Are Plenty of Opportunities Out There
I am hoping that some of my fellow area artists chime in in the comments. This post begins to scratch the surface, and this is the sort of information that can be crowdsourced.