Starting this fall, aspiring actors at Yale will take part in a changed casting process for productions affiliated with the Yale Drama Coalition.
Last Thursday, the YDC announced a new casting process for all productions that wish to be listed on the organization’s website and use its resources. According to the new system, production teams can only contact their desired cast members with role offers on specified days throughout the semester. Although the production teams will begin contacting the selected actors and actresses on the specified “call dates,” the casting process may last longer than one day. In a survey distributed last April, many members of Yale’s theater community wrote they were frustrated when different productions would hold auditions and make cast calls days or weeks apart from each other, which prompted the YDC board to restructure the casting process.
“Directors and producers are trying to make these calls, trying to convince actors to commit to their shows, and actors take a while to respond because they are waiting to hear from other shows,” YDC vice president Ethan Karetsky ’14 said. “By the time we get the full cast confirmed, it could take weeks. Theater shouldn’t be stressful and casting is always what people are stressed out about.”
Productions participating in the current casting cycle will begin contacting their desired cast members on the first call date, which is scheduled to be held on Nov. 9. On this date, all production teams plus members of the YDC board will gather in the same building and begin making the calls. Karetsky said that within a given cycle, productions will most likely hold auditions and callbacks one or two weeks before the call date.
Although the entire casting process will probably last longer than one day, Karetsky said, it will progress far more quickly now that all production teams will begin the process together. If an actor is called and says he or she is waiting on another show to respond, a production team can just walk over to the other team’s room and ask team members if they plan to cast that actor, said Irene Casey ’14, president of YDC. Casey noted that when the previous casting system was in place, entire production teams’ schedules would be delayed because they were waiting on the response of an individual actor.
Karetsky said he hopes the changes will shorten the casting process from roughly a week or longer to two or three days, adding that the call dates will increase communication between productions by allowing them to quickly contact each other for updates on actors. He noted that in the past, different production teams may have felt uncomfortable reaching out to a team if they did not know its members. The physical proximity of the teams during the call date, as well as the presence of YDC board members, will help maximize contact between the teams, Karetsky added.
Casey and Karetsky both emphasized that the new casting system will not impact other aspects of the production process. Casey said that a given production can still hold auditions and cast actors during any cycle regardless of when the production will be staged, as long as it begins issuing cast calls only on the designated call dates.
The new system will not influence productions’ ability to reserve performance spaces because reservations happen when productions apply for Creative and Performing Arts grants, which they can do before or after the casting process.
Kathryn Krier, head of Undergraduate Production, said in an email that she does not expect the new process to have any major impact on how the office interacts with production teams.
Several members of the theater community interviewed said they think the changes will improve the casting process, but some mentioned that the new system may result in unforeseen challenges.
“As a director and as someone behind the scenes, it’s very difficult working out casting if you can’t communicate with the other shows,” Iason Togias ’16 said. “But I also understand that for actors it can be overwhelming to have to audition for multiple shows in the same week.”
Stefani Kuo ’17 said she supports the idea of having cast calls be issued on the same day, but added that she thinks having all production teams gather in one place on the same day may prove chaotic.
Christian Probst ’16 said that the new process will likely achieve its goal of reducing the delay in actor response time, adding that in order to take advantage of the new system, productions will need to communicate with each other about how to distribute actors who appear on multiple shows’ call lists.
The November casting cycle will conclude with a call date on Dec. 10.