The Power of Gender-Blind Casting

Image from Sir Patient Fancy

Amy Driesler, Elisabeth Preston and Virginia Baeta in Sir Patient Fancy (2014)

I’ve spent a fair chunk of my artistic life directing all-female classical productions and I’ve discovered a few things through the doing. As a theatre maker I’m hungry to work with the best actors possible, people who push me to do my best work. As a theatergoer I’m hungry to see female actors onstage doing adventurous, surprising and heroic things. Though this is happening more and more in contemporary theatre, we are still stuck in the past with our great old plays. What do we do about that? My answer is use the power of gender-blind casting.

The power of gender-blind casting is simple. It is the power of inclusion. When we include the majority of the population – women – as well as minorities in our casting decisions, we’re going to get the best actor in the role.

For men that means you’ll know you got the role because you were the best actor, not simply the best guy in the room. And you’ll be acting opposite the best actor, not simply the other best guy in the room. It will stretch you, startle you and challenge you.  It will make you a better actor.

For women it means you will be asked for your full humanity and not just the safe small feminine part of yourselves.  You will be asked to be people of action, just like your brothers. It will be exciting, scary, exhilarating and well worth the effort.

And for those of you still asking, ‘why gender-blind casting?’ I’ll give you a simple answer. It’s 2015. Not 1915. Its time to stop being so old fashioned in our casting practices. It’s time to stretch ourselves. We will be the better for it.

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