Q & A: Double Casting

The Blog


June 16, 2021 | By Jenny

Q & A: Double Casting

Amended August 6, 2021

Our plan earlier this year was to double cast each of our Mainstage shows, but if there’s one thing spending the past 16 months with COVID have taught us, it’s that change is a constant. And so, we have not double cast Clue.

Here’s why: As the situation with Covid-19 and variants continues to evolve we’ve realized keeping our production process as streamlined and simple as possible is a smarter decision and healthier choice for our staff, production team, and cast and crew. In working out the logistics of how two casts would rehearse and perform, we weren’t able to find a way to reduce time spent for rehearsals. Where before we thought cast members of one cast would be able to step in to replace sick or quarantined cast members of the other cast, now we’re realizing that if anyone became sick we would most likely need to postpone/cancel weekends. With the speed and severity of Delta, it’s more apparent than before that we simply need less people involved and less people at rehearsals and in contact with one another.

Original guest post by Jill Summers

We’ve gotten a lot of questions about our decision to double cast our 2021-2022 season. As Chanda, Amanda, and I brainstormed early this year about how we could bring live performance back into our building, we wanted to focus on two things–safety and how to best serve our recovering community.

The obvious problems we faced were how to limit the amount of people grouped together on and off stage and how to provide flexibility to swing in other actors if another gets sick or needs to quarantine. None of us were excited by the idea of understudies, a necessary role in a professional setting but one we found inappropriate for volunteers. We also know so many of our actors are eager to be involved in a show again, many more than the roles we were going to have available.

But safety aside, our mission post pandemic is to make working with ACT as equitable and inclusive as possible while still remaining a volunteer based community theatre. How do we make it easier to be on our stage, easier to be in a show? Particularly now, when many are between jobs and struggling to reshape their lives? The best answer we’ve come to is asking for a less demanding time commitment, one that could be more flexible about work, families, and life events.

We decided on double casting as a way to address all these issues. The shows we’ve selected hopefully speak to the caution and care used in making these decisions. They all run under 90 minutes, and we’re asking our directors to make sure the rehearsals required reflect that. We’ll also be expanding our tech and dress rehearsal period to two weeks instead of one to eliminate the traditional “10 out of 12” Sunday Tech and stressful 8 day stretch of opening weekend.

We want to come back from this pandemic with more than just safety protocols. We want to re-examine every way we work and ask ourselves, who is this serving? We want to make sure every action and policy exists for a reason beyond “that’s just how it’s always been done.”

This season we’re going to go a little slower, be more thoughtful than before, and learn as much as we can in the process.

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