Casting a Movement : The Welcome Table Initiative book cover
1st Edition

Casting a Movement
The Welcome Table Initiative

ISBN 9781138594777
Published July 23, 2019 by Routledge
266 Pages 23 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Casting a Movement brings together US-based actors, directors, educators, playwrights, and scholars to explore the cultural politics of casting.

Drawing on the notion of a "welcome table"—a space where artists of all backgrounds can come together as equals to create theatre—the book’s contributors discuss casting practices as they relate to varying communities and contexts, including Middle Eastern American theatre, Disability culture, multilingual performance, Native American theatre, color- and culturally-conscious casting, and casting as a means to dismantle stereotypes. Syler and Banks suggest that casting is a way to invite more people to the table so that the full breadth of US identities can be reflected onstage, and that casting is inherently a political act; because an actor’s embodied presence both communicates a dramatic narrative and evokes cultural assumptions associated with appearance, skin color, gender, sexuality, and ability, casting choices are never neutral. By bringing together a variety of artistic perspectives to discuss common goals and particular concerns related to casting, this volume features the insights and experiences of a broad range of practitioners and experts across the field.

As a resource-driven text suitable for both practitioners and academics, Casting a Movement seeks to frame and mobilize a social movement focused on casting, access, and representation.

Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Contributors

Foreword: From "I Love Your Freckles" to "Representation Matters"

By Liesl Tommy




By Claire Syler


The Welcome Table: Casting for an Integrated Society

By Daniel Banks


Part One: Culturally Conscious Casting

Chapter One: The Chasm Between

By Ayanna Thompson

Chapter Two: Playing with "Race" in The New Millennium

By Justin Emeka

Chapter Three: Nevertheless, Whiteness Persisted

By Brian Eugenio Herrera


Part Two: Approaches to Casting Middle Eastern American Theatre

Chapter Four: Casting Pearls Before Authenticity

By Yussef El Guindi

Chapter Five: ReOrienting: A Middle Eastern American Casting Case Study

By Torange Yeghiazarian

Chapter Six: Casting Middle Eastern American Theatre: Cultural, Academic, and Professional Challenges

By Michael Malek Najjar


Part Three: Casting and Disability Culture

Chapter Seven: Casting Disabled Actors: Taking Our Rightful Place Onstage

By Christine Bruno

Chapter Eight: The Difference Disability Makes: Unique Considerations in Casting Performers with Disabilities

By Carrie Sandahl

Chapter Nine: A Great and Complicated Thing: Reimagining Disability

By Victoria Lewis


Part Four: Casting and Multilingual Performance

Chapter Ten: The Sea Will Listen

By Caridad Svich

Chapter Eleven: Setting a Global Table with Multilingual Theatre

By Eunice S. Ferreira

Chapter Twelve: Creating Emergent Spaces: Casting, Community-building, and Extended Dramaturgy

By Ann Elizabeth Armstrong


Part Five: Casting Contemporary Native American Theatre

Chapter Thirteen: Journey

By Ty Defoe (Giizhig)

Chapter Fourteen: Native Voices at the Autry: Casting the Room

By Randy Reinholz (Choctaw) and Jean Bruce Scott

Chapter Fifteen: Decolonial Practices for Contemporary Native Theatre

By Courtney Elkin Mohler


Part Six: Dismantling Stereotypes

Chapter Sixteen: Whose Story Is This to Tell?

By Mei Ann Teo

Chapter Seventeen: Casting, Cross-Racial Performance, and the Work of Creativity

By Dorinne Kondo

Chapter Eighteen: Artists of Color/Cross-Racial Casting

By Donatella Galella


Part Seven: Casting Across Identities

Chapter Nineteen: Reaparecer

By Elaine Ávila 

Chapter Twenty: Collidescope 2.0: Performing the "Alien Gaze"

By Priscilla Page

Chapter Twenty-One: The Spatio-Temporal Logics of Collidescope’s Welcome Table

By Brandi Wilkins Catanese



By Daniel Banks

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Claire Syler is Assistant Professor of Theatre at the University of Missouri and previously the Education Director at the Nashville Shakespeare Festival. Her research focuses on the intersection of theatre and education and has appeared in HowlRound; Theatre, Dance and Performance Training; Theatre Topics; and Youth Theatre Journal.

Daniel Banks is co-director of DNAWORKS, an arts and service organization dedicated to using the arts as a catalyst for dialogue and healing, engaging topics of representation, identity, and heritage. He served on the faculties of Tisch School of the Arts, NYU, the M.A. in Applied Theatre, CUNY, and as Chair of Performing Arts, Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe, NM. He is the editor of Say Word! Voices from Hip Hop Theater (University of Michigan).


"a must-read title for any theatre professional, educator or student [...] Readers will walk away inspired to interrogate their own theatrical practice, engage in conversation with other theatre makers, and seek to create theatre where all have a seat and voice at the table."

- Derrick Vanmeter, Southern Theatre

"a timely work whose significance goes beyond the discipline of theater to add to the national conversation on institutionalized racism. Read alongside recent political, social and artistic developments, including the Black Lives Matter movement, theatre closures precipitated by COVID-19 and the political upheavals of the Trump presidency, it remaps the field."

- Erith Jaffe-Berg, The Journal of American Drama and Theatre

"As this volume reaches classrooms and institutions around the globe, the voices echoing through its pages will challenge theatre-makers to remember the implications that bodies of colour and other-ableness carry with them into production and to rethink the ways they welcome all communities to the table."

- Collin Vorbeck, Theatre Research International