As a noun
Used basically of anyone who earns a living as a specialized worker in the theatrical profession. Anyone who performs or works as an occupation or for payment. This in opposition to a non-professional or an amateur. A slightly vague yet complicating category is the so called semi-professional.
As an adjective
Professional is used of any production employing professional workers (actors, designers, directors, etc) and paying them. However this distinction is complicated by the skewed theatrical system, based on an inequitable social system under the colonial and apartheid rule. For this reason the term Semi-professional (see below) is more appropriate in most cases and has been widely used by writers, particularly when dealing with of black and “alternative” theatrical production, since many workers and performers in these contexts do it part time (i.e. like amateurs), but get paid for it. Amateur is thus generally reserved for the notion of anyone who does theatre simply for the love of it - i.e. as a hobby - and receives no pay. Unfortunately a stigma has also attached itself to this notion, implying work that is “not up to standard”, even though for a very long time – and in some contexts still – some of the more innovative work has come from this source, and for long times in the history of the country the “amateurs” have constituted the only theatre available.
Theatre presented by a company consisting of professional artists and workers, working for financial gain and for whom the income is their sole (or major) source of income.
Theatre presented by a company consisting of semi-professional artists and workers, working for financial gain and for whom the income is NOT their sole (or major) source of income, but is undertaken for love of the craft and/or additional income.
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