How did contemporary casting practices come into being? How did actors become freelancers? Do you know the sordid history of the headshot? How has casting changed in the internet era? Why do casting controversies figure so prominently in discussions about race, gender and sexuality in contemporary theatre? Drawing upon his ongoing research for his book-length study of the topic (Casting, A History), performance historian Brian Herrera will invite questions from those assembled to guide a lively interactive discussion about the history of casting in US popular performance. This conversation aims to press the critical, creative and historical understanding of casting beyond familiar zero-sum measures of good/bad, success/failure or right/wrong so as to cultivate an appreciation of casting as a dynamic repertoire of performance techniques, practices and conventions ripe for experimentation, innovation and revision.
Brian Eugenio Herrera is Assistant Professor of Theater in the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University. His work, both academic and artistic, examines the history of gender, sexuality and race within and through U.S. popular performance. He is the author of The Latina/o Theatre Commons 2013 National Convening: A Narrative Report (HowlRound, 2015) and his first book Latin Numbers: Playing Latino in Twentieth-Century U.S. Popular Performance (Michigan, 2015) was awarded the George Jean Nathan Prize for Dramatic Criticism. He is presently at work on two new book projects: Starring Miss Virginia Calhoun, a narrative portrait of a deservedly obscure early 20th century actress/writer/producer, and Casting - A History, a historical study of the material practices of casting in US popular performance.