Casting for Intelligence- How to Avoid Casting Pitfalls |

"The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast."

-Oscar Wilde

Sitting down to write this article I have a couple things working against me. The first is that I am on an unfamiliar computer, and the second is that I am not quite sure how to write out my thoughts on this subject without sounding very similar to a cheap motivational speaker that you might hire to expound about life at your child's elementary school. In addition, I'm not quite sure how to explain the connection between the quote above and the following article, except that that it has something to do with honesty and something to do with charm.

I'd like you to forget for a moment that the Hungarian lady with the accent as thick as her calves is trying out for the sassy barmaid living in 19th century London. Maybe it will work, and if it does you want to be sure that you're prepared to catch it and not just usher her through the door as soon as her cursory cold reading has come to a close. Sometimes she bombs, and does not have anything resembling what you're looking for in your character. Tell her so, give her some specific directions from your magical, directing bag of tricks, and tell her to try again. Maybe she just can not act, in which case you politely thank her for her time and move on: there was no harm done, and you have had the immeasurable pleasure of listening to a Hungarian accent for a few minutes.

Perhaps, though, there is something that catches your eye or your ear. Perhaps your gut would be a better way to put it– something in her reading catches your ken directing / casting gut. This is where the title of this essay comes in: I encourage you all to cast for intelligence over anything else (gender ,haps, besides … although I have reservations even on that front). I have worked with trained actors and computer programmers who have never set foot on a stage, and although the trained actors are much better at avoiding the furniture, the thing that determinates a good performance in either is intelligence. I do not, by the way, mean IQ, the ability to take apart and reassemble a combustion engine, or a penchant for reading Nietzsche. I mean some kind of emotional, acting intelligence … some people just have the ability to understand a role. They treat it with sincerity, and they somehow know just how to swing their arms, and when they set down their purse before they cross so that they have something to come back for in ten minutes when their husband is kissing his mistress it just feels right .

This is an immediately obvious quality, nor is it something that can be gleaned from a resume, nor is it even something that is a constant – different managers getting stunning results from different actors. So how do you tell? 'How,' I can hear the multitude of voices inquiring, 'do we cast these magical specimens, assuming that we buy into your whole intelligence concept, which keep in mind … we might not?' Listen and communicate.

I know that this pushes me from the already shaky ground of motivational speaker to the dangerous real of corny marriage counselor, but it's the truth. Listen for things they can improve on, tell them why you love the character, and be open if they make choices that you had not anticipated. I have rarely encountered a problem of not having someone right for a role, and when I have, it has almost always turned out that I was underestimating one of my choices. Of course, this does not give you cut and dry guidelines, but that was not really my goal. One of Kurt Vonnegut's characters, questioned on how to tell a good piece of art from a bad piece of art, says that one has only to look at 10,000 paintings and they will never again have any problem with that distinction.

This article is not meant to tell you a recipe for casting, but to give you permission to have fun with the process and relax about your preconceptions. Tell people why you like their character, or even the play as a whole. Open up to them, and they will open up in ways you could not expect. Cast for honesty, and a person's natural ability to engage you. Cast for intelligence.

Source by Graham Talley

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