Equitable Casting at Fringe
by lois neville
The Hollywood Fringe Festival is devoted to accessibility and equity in our festival and within the larger theatre community as a whole. We are a young, progressive, grassroots organization and believe the choices we make have a rippling impact on our community.
To maximize our impact we need your help. As producers, directors, theatre-makers and actors you make up our festival, our culture, and our community. When casting your Hollywood Fringe productions we ask that you expand your perspective when casting. We are fed the incorrect message that Whiteness and nondisabled humans are default. We highly encourage you to cast your productions with the intention to have a cast that represents the diverse city of Los Angeles and the diversity of our nation.
Impact of equitable casting?
- You create a production with more creative perspectives to elevate your show.
- You reach a wider audience when you cast actors across communities and are inviting new audiences to participate in your work, both through your actors’ networks and by representing and attracting various communities to your show.
- You’ll make more money. More audience members equals more ticket sales and more money from your Fringe production.
- Learn new perspectives and gain broader cultural competency
- Contribute to anti-racism in our theatre community.
How to cast equitably
- Start with a diverse production team.
- Post your production on casting websites to reach a wide audience.
- Note “all ethnicities” in your character breakdowns unless ethnicity is pertinent to the cultural function of a role.
- Consider multigenerational casting: Is age relevant in your story? If not, consider broadening your age limits to have a more inclusive cast in terms of age.
- Do not cast nondisabled actors in disabled roles. Authentically cast disabled and d/Deaf stories, and consider including more disabled actors in non-disa bled roles in your productions.
- Consider opening up your gender identities in casting.
- Bolster your commitment to equitable casting in your casting announcement by including a statement like: : “We encourage underrepresented communities to submit. Reach out to BIPOC, AAPI, and disabled friends and colleagues to audition and share the audition opportunity.
Fostering an inclusive environment
- Listen to the actors you hire and the perspectives they share. Take them seriously.
- Do not make racially based, ableist, gender-biased, or any other insensitive comments. If you have something to say about someone’s identity, we recommend you consider if it’s something that will affect your production, the narrative of the story you are trying to tell, or the community you work with. If it won’t, don’t say it.
- Ask questions when you don’t know something. Listen to the response and thank your collaborator for their time explaining new concepts. People are excited to give feedback and share their ideas when you properly thank them for their time..
- Respect your actors’ time and commitment to the project.
- Don’t tokenize any single person in a cast, hire people from many backgrounds so that you may have a more conducive environment for inclusive conversations.
Reference our Code of Conduct for resources.