Theater groups are a notoriously cliquey lot, what with their exclusive post-show binges and their long hours spent bonding over songs sung by cats.
The closeness can lead to seamless collaborations, but also to a nasty case of inbreeding when it comes to casting time.
Enter Cleveland Public Theatre, whose mission to present cutting-edge productions is served with a steaming side of social consciousness.
The troupe famously opens its doors to a wide pool of aspiring performers by casting an especially wide net. But CPT organizers couldn’t help but notice that all but a handful of the 115 folks who came out to this month’s open casting call looked like stunt doubles for the cast of Glee.
“We want to open ourselves up and meet new people,” says Beth Wood, CPT’s associate artistic director. “We know there are great artists out there, and we know we don’t know everyone in town. I have a feeling people don’t know about Cleveland Public Theatre and don’t know the work we do.”
And so the theater is serving up a bonus round: This Saturday’s casting call goes out exclusively to performers who can claim black, Latino, Middle Eastern, Indian, or any other heritage not closely associated with Republican fund-raisers.
“We do color-blind casting,” says Wood. “We want to know artists of all different ethnicities and demographics, so when we find these plays that absolutely need three Arab actresses, we can do it.”
Learn more about the casting call at cptonline.org. — Anastasia Pantsios