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Once On This Island - An Exploration of Nontraditional Casting

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Only in the world of acting can an individual be denied a job simply on the basis of their appearance, and in my thesis, I sought to explore alternatives to

Only in the world of acting can an individual be denied a job simply on the basis of their appearance, and in my thesis, I sought to explore alternatives to this through the concept of nontraditional casting and casting against "type", which included the presentation of a full-length production of the musical "Once on this Island" which I attempted to cast based on vocal quality and skill alone rather than taking physical characteristics into account. I researched the history and implementation of nontraditional casting, both in regards to race and other factors such as gender, socio-economic status, and disability. I also considered the legal and intellectual property challenges that nontraditional casting can pose. I concluded from this research that while nontraditional casting is only one solution to the problem, it still has a great deal of potential to create diversity in theater. For my own show, I held the initial auditions via audio recording, though the callback auditions were held in person so that I and my crew could appraise dance and acting ability. Though there were many challenges with our cast after this initial round of auditions, we were able to solidify our cast and continue through the rehearsal process. All things said, the show was very successful. It is my hope that those who were a part of the show, either as part of the production or the audience, are inspired to challenge the concept of typecasting in contemporary theater.

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  • 2014-12