Experience with students
(headshot experiment – all white)
“I guess we just did the easy thing”
Casting diversely is better for the art – it’s about relevance, representation, who is in your audience and who you want to have in your audience, standing the test of time
Part 2: Casting for Justice
Different types of casting
Traditional casting: white male default casting; as blank slate
“Blind” casting: Rebecca would like to see that term go away
–There are connotations to everything we see
–Casting the best actor for the role – who’s the decider? – there may be a bias
Non-traditional casting or “Intentional” casting – think about what it means if the only black character is playing Caliban
–Casting the way things are; i.e. Measure for Measure
–The way we wish things could be; Julie Taymoor’s Midsummer
–Casting the opposites i.e. Patrick Stewart’s Othello
What’s next? The Pipeline
–Dismissed the idea that there was a pipeline problem “actors of color are harder to find”
–Less of a problem in the Bay Area, but still an issue
–Do you really have a pipeline problem?
–If you do: what is the company doing to cause us to have this particular problem? Salaries, where are you looking (MFA programs, going to shows), do you travel or only cast locally, do you recruit millenials, how diverse are your education programs, male teaching artists, coach young actors, question your own judgment (i.e. a male director directing Shrew could have a female assistant director)
–Quotas – why? Did it to hold myself accountable
–Try and make some kind of commitment – what can it be as a company?
–Check out census data
We don’t see all the people we live with onstage
Women want to play everything and we can
There is no lack of brilliant talented people who can play these roles in the world
You are the decider
Directing a gender-flipped Revenger’s Tragedy – diverse cast
Some cross-gender rehearsing requires technique
Plays are written in heteronormative binary but they are being broken open
How do you revolutionize the community?
Video on twenty years of all-female work to cross-gender work
Men playing women had to hold the room for the whole show
Added 11 undergraduates
Change male silhouette to female so they can play the roles (not re-gendered)
Difference in male and female movement – Vincent Patterson
Increased visibility internationally is important
51% Preparedness Plan for the American Theatre
Commit to goal over next 5 yrs of reaching
51% artists and production personnel will be people of color, women, or under 35 years of age
Those that do not should not be able to use the word diverse
All funders should consider funding only those theatres that have achieved at least one of the levels
By 2023 more than half of all American children will be POC
Over 60% of theatre-goers are women
Why have larger theatres been slow to respond? Vast majority of theatres, subscriber base is overwhelmingly white and rapidly aging
How much to push?
Do not give all the white guys the equity contracts first
Hold the mirror up to nature
Constantly looking at plays from new angles keeps them alive and flexible
How does diversity relate to dramaturgs?
Basic questions – what do we think of diversity as a term
Inclusivity, dominant ethnicity, apology – closed words for a dramaturg
Theatre is a journey from emotion to emotion
Turn these words into active, questioning practice
A director asks, what does this play mean to me? What do I wish to say?
As dramaturgs, our task is to help and suggest in this thinking
Diversity is grounded in inequalities that must be named
In a truly diverse theatre, everyone has a part and we listen (this is a difficult one because theatre are still structured in a top-down way)
What do we pay attention to when we listen and how do we frame what we hear?
How do we know if a play is worthy or not?
Shakespeare is fruitful for diversity because he bears 400 yrs of history that we have as we watch i.e. a gender-flipped Iago
We still live in a world with a plague, with zealots, where our own people in power have been said to use guns to eradicate people of color (like Prospero shuts away Caliban)
Diversity is allowed onstage
The nature we’re seeing now is a far more diverse one
Is the casting of that person of color or gender brining a different point of view?
How are we going to make it reflect
i.e. Merchant of Venice – have a Jewish person play Shylock, you are able to keep some of the language
What do you cut?
Cut lines that take you out of the dramatic moment (i.e. “blaspheming Jew” in Macbeth)
Dramaturg is looking at words, phrases, passages with “what makes this most potent when we look in today’s mirror?”
Try not to rehabilitate Shakespeare
Where is the dramatic energy? Use reaction – don’t pretend this writer is not 400 years old
Where does gender fit in?
Will women do good and convincing jobs cast in men’s roles?
Production of Queen Lear – recast daughters as sons
Helen Mirren as Prospero revitalized not only her role but other roles she played with and against
Listening to a song through the freight of history
Book mentioned in discussion: Female Bodies on the American Stage