Have you ever wondered who was responsible for getting Stephen Fry to make his Globe debut in Twelfth Night, or what weird and wonderful things happen in an audition? Well wonder no longer as we introduce our latest Playing my Part interviewee, Charlotte Bevan, Casting and Creative Associate (Theatre Department). As you will see, it’s a pretty big job!
Please describe your typical day
Every day is different in the casting department, depending on the time of year. Between the end of one season and the beginning of the next, we are usually going full steam working on the casting of all of the coming season’s shows simultaneously. We might have a full or half day of auditions with a director, or sometimes two or three sets depending on their respective availabilities. When we are not in auditions, we would be working on character lists in the office, which contain all of our and the director’s suggestions for various roles. We would discuss these ideas with the directors, check a lot of availabilities and work out from those available who we might like to offer the role to or invite in to audition. In amongst this, we go through all of our post and email inbox to filter submissions, and liaise with other departments as the casts come together.
In my role as Creative Associate I will also be working on the negotiation and issuing of all contracts for Creatives (directors, designers, composers, choreographers and so on) and keeping in touch with them while they are in the building.
How did you end up where you are today?
I always loved the theatre and took part in a lot of plays at school and university. In my holidays I took jobs in any theatre that would have me. I worked in a range of different departments in various theatres, so by the time I left university I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the theatre.
When I left university I worked for an actor’s agent for a short time, and as an intern in the casting office at the Royal Shakespeare Company. In 2008 I came to the Globe as Theatre Assistant, after which i took on the casting needs of the Theatre Department, which were gradually growing as the seasons were getting bigger every year and more and more actors seemed to want to work here. We now have a full time casting department which consists of me and the Casting Assistant, and we work on the casting of all Globe shows and related projects.
Tell us something that it would surprise people to know about your role.
We often receive up to 50 submissions a day by post or email from actors who are interested in working at the Globe. And we once auditioned with a tortoise!?
Any highlights in your Globe career so far?
Too many to mention. Seeing actors who have never done Shakespeare before (or vowed they never would), or those who have not performed here before, stepping out onto the stage for the first time and taking in the audience. Making an unexpected stage debut in Much Ado About Nothing when we lost an actor to illness at the eleventh hour. Watching the rock star reception that companies get after almost every show, from a rainy Tuesday afternoon to a packed press night.
What do you enjoy most about working at the Globe?
The people, and the building, and everything in between. Working on Shakespeare plays to be performed in the space they were written for is a huge privilege, and the building itself makes sense of the text in a way that no other building can. The love of putting on Shakespeare is clear from the sheer energy of everyone in the building to make it work without any sense of ego. It is very hard to be precious about putting on a show when a passing bird could swoop in at any point and relieve itself centre stage during a tragic monologue.
If someone wanted to get into a role like yours, what advice would you give them?
Watch as many plays as you can, keep track of every actor you see and remember who has directed what. Directors often have very different tastes and ideas, and the wider range of performances and types of performer you can see the better. It is also useful to keep track of everyone coming out of drama school by going to their shows and showcases wherever possible. There are very few resident casting positions in theatres as not everywhere has a budget for casting. A lot of theatres use freelance casting directors on a show-by-show basis.
Can you recommend some resources for people who would like to get into a role like yours?
The best way to start is to try and shadow or assist a casting director to get used to the dialogue between casting offices and agents, and to see how it all fits together. I also learned a lot about theatre generally from working in so many different departments at lots of different theatres . There are so many elements that need to come together for a theatre to work, from Front of House to Finance, Wigs and Wardrobe, Catering, Communications – the list is endless.
The Casting Directors Guild website has lots of useful material and advice about being and becoming a casting director, and is also a great resource for seeing who has cast what and where.
What do you strive to achieve in this role?
Finding actors to perform Shakespeare as if the words and characters are brand new every time. It is so satisfying when you watch an actor you have cast speaking lines beautifully and hearing elements of the characters you may have never heard before in all the many times you may have read or seen the play. Bringing actors into the theatre who leave with a different understanding of Shakespeare as a result of having performed it in the space it was intended for.
Just before you go, which is your favourite play by Shakespeare and why?
There are so many different plays I love for such different reasons, but the Henry IV’s and V would definitely be towards the top of the list – they contain such brilliant speeches and the progression of those characters through such an epic period is really satisfying to follow; when Harry hears that Bardolph is dead in Henry V suddenly the whole history of their relationship over the three plays floods into to a single line. I also love the Sonnets and following their story if you read the whole lot beginning to end – they are also good for a short attention span!