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Non-Traditional Casting: A Case Study /. Robert Wills The case method of teaching and learning is not new. It has, for example, long been used by such diverse disciplines as law, business, education, and Ubrary science, and its pedagogical effectiveness can be firmly documented. But using the case method in theatre is relatively new, and using it specificaUy with the teaching and learning of directing may still hold unfamüiarity for some. The case presented here, therefore, and the accompanying information about the study of cases, should help both teachers and students learn more about this potentiaUy lively and stimulating addition to the theatre classroom. At its simplest, a case is a description of a problem or situation halted at a point where decisions must be made. Students study a case, come to individual decisions about it, then join together for discussion and debate of the issues presented in the case material. In other words, there are two important elements at work in using the case method. First, there is the case material itself. And second, there is the discussion which results from that material. When students of directing confront a series of cases, they reach out again and again to meet real problems actually faced by a director in the theatre. What they learn from such confrontation can then be transferred to their own directing experiences. Meanwhüe, their learning is active and situational rather than passive and isolated. They learn to use knowledge by applying it to specific situations, and by testing their insights against the insights of peers. The method demands discipline, attention to facts, and high levels of interaction —between student and teacher, yes, but especially between student and student. The instructor acts more as a catalyst, guide, and summarizer than as a "giver of information." The method also demands the understanding that in any given situation there are multiple possibilities for action. There are no "correct" answers to the issues raised in cases, for rarely is there only one appropriate way to solve a problem or only one artistic decision that will work. Because of this, case discussion infrequently results in unanimity of opinion. 113 114 /. Robert Wills The case method of teaching and learning, then, focuses on problems, not techniques, and brings field experience in the theatre directly to the classroom. It is learning by doing, without having to Uve with the consequences. AU participants possess the same materials and information, to which they bring uniquely individual insights and knowledge, and from which they must be prepared to recommend wise and appropriate actions. The case which follows here—Northern State University—presents issues related to multiculturaUsm in the theatre, especially to issues of non-traditional casting and to educational theatre casting poUcies. In addition, the case could be used to explore aspects of theatre administration, or specific problems in acting, play selection, audience analysis, theatre ethics and a host of other topics. Case study, however, always begins with the case itself. Northern State University Director Torg Anderson sat with a copy of Beyond Tradition on the desk before him thinking about the chaUenge of non-traditional casting. He had just finished reading transcripts from the "First National Symposium on Non-Traditional Casting," a two-day conference held in November 1986, which would later be caUed "the first open discussion of the under-representation and misrepresentation of ethnic artists in the performing arts." Anderson knew that non-traditional casting, in addition to ethnic artists, also involved women and actors with disabüities. In fact, Anderson knew that the Non-Traditional Casting Project of Actors' Equity defined non-traditional casting as "the casting of ethnic, female or disabled actors in roles where race, ethnicity, gender or physical capabiUty are not necessary to the characters' or play's development." Anderson had attended the 1986 symposium as the Director of Theatre for Northern State University, and since then he had come to beUeve that his own directing could benefit from such an approach to casting. Consequently, he had begun actively seeking non-traditional casts for each of the two productions he directed every year at Northern. His audition notices now said, "The director of this production actively seeks...


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