OU’s Fine Arts Diversity Council will host a panel on race and gender in casting on Nov. 25.
The “Race and Gender in Casting Panel” will provide a deeper look into what it means to cast productions ethically. Conversations regarding this topic occur often in the OU theater department but not always in the most productive way, said Alleese Eldridge, a drama sophomore and the Diversity Council’s vice chair of programming.
“Casting is so personal, especially in the School of Drama and the School of Musical Theatre, as it affects an actor’s personal livelihood,” Eldridge said. “I picked this topic because I thought it would be interesting to explore the inner workings of the casting process and how we can push to have more equity in casting.”
Featured speakers for this event include Ashton Byrum, the director of the Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre, and Ralph Beliveau, a creative media production and professional writing professor who recently launched his research about equity in media and media representation, Eldridge said. A full list of the panel members can be found on the Fine Arts Diversity Council’s Facebook.
“It will be really nice to hear the interesting ideas and fresh perspectives these professors have,” Eldridge said. “Their academic background will help them enlighten us with ideas we don't always get to hear.”
The Fine Arts Diversity Council hopes to ask questions that address how diversity in casting manifests in both the professional world and at OU, Eldridge said. Ultimately, she said she hopes everyone who comes will find something interesting or something they didn’t know before.
“Because theater is a visual art form, someone’s race and gender is something we have to be aware of and pay attention to — you can't just pretend like it doesn't exist,” Eldridge said. “We hope to discuss this and compare casting in the professional world to casting in an educational environment.”
This panel discussion is open to the public and will begin at 5 p.m. on Nov. 25 in Holmberg Hall.