ArtsWest recognizes that actors are on the frontlines of our work, bringing their hearts, minds, and stories to bear every time they step into the audition room or onto the stage.

At all steps of the process, we seek to create brave, supportive spaces in which actors can thrive and create incredible work. We practice identity-conscious casting and producing, an idea coined by Lavina Jadhwani in her fantastic HowlRound article as an evolution of the practice of color-conscious casting.  Some ways this practice shows up can be found throughout the information below.  When offers are made, we disclose who else is on the team and keep all updated as artists continue to join the project. 

ArtsWest employs mainly non-union actors with limited SPT Tier 5 contracts for AEA actors.  Currently, ArtsWest provides at least one AEA contract per production.

Each season ArtsWest produces at least 50% plays by BIPOC playwrights.  With very few exceptions, these plays are directed by BIPOC directors, and BIPOC casting associates are present in all casting rooms regardless of the identity of the playwright.  ArtsWest also employs BIPOC actors throughout the season, including in plays by white playwrights and so-called “canonical” material.   

In all of the above cases, ArtsWest has operated under a philosophy of “color-conscious” casting as opposed to “colorblind” casting.  This has been far from a perfect practice, but in the best cases it has meant that racialized narratives created by casting choices are thoroughly discussed by the director, casting associates, and creative team, and developed in collaboration with the actors involved.  This work is supported by cultural and/or racial equity consultants on each show.  This also means being specific in regard to races called for by the script.  

The emerging idea of “identity-conscious” casting has further galvanized our desire to ensure that the practices above show up in all cases, not just in the best cases. You can read more about identity conscious casting here. Identity conscious casting doesn’t just end in the casting room, but becomes a fundamental aspect of design and rehearsal processes, as well as performance runs.