Help me formulate the question – it’s to do with integrated casting

Convener(s): Rebecca Manson Jones

Participants: Jamie Allan, Nick Phillippou, Julia Tamokey, Alan Wen, Helen Bryer, David Tse, Elise Davison

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

What does integrated casting mean and where does the term originate – we didn’t seem to know.

There were various anecdotes of horror stories attached to tokenistic casting, meeting quotas unrelated to talent and audience racism. We agreed that the first two are a misdirection and should be avoided and that racism amongst audiences should be exposed and ignored.

There are many incentives and policies encouraging directors and companies to take on cultural diversity – We explored whether they should they be adhered to, policed or ignored. What is gained and what is lost by setting a rigorous policy actually is pretty obvious to anyone who thinks about for more than two minutes, so fortunately we moved into more interesting territory.

We were concerned that DND seems to be an event which appeals to mostly white practitioners and heard that Improbable have worked hard to address this. David Tse was very honest about his fatigue with talking on the subject and I’m just chuffed he listened to me babbling.

In the end we came to a natural conclusion that integrated casting isn’t the issue. It’s always, of course, about programming and why you programme what you programme. It’s also perhaps about guiding directors towards seeking and recognising talent wherever it appears. Thinking that integrated casting solves a problem reduces the issue of diversity in theatre and is only a superficial way of answering it. It is only important because the actors are the most visible element of theatre production to audiences. They are the tip but it’s the iceberg underwater where most of the work needs to take place.