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Casting Call Woe: Audition nightmares relived

By | Published on Tuesday 23 August 2016

Casting Call Woe

Casting Call Woe is a blog that gathers together some of the worst ‘casting calls’ to come out of the film and TV industries, as producers seek actors for upcoming projects. Some are funny, some are bizarre and some reveal the sexist thought processes that are too often employed by productions-in-development.
The anonymous actress behind the blog – who tweets as @ProResting – has teamed up with Tiff Stevenson to turn the whole venture into a live show. Which sounds pretty damn interesting. We had to find out more…

CM: So, how does the show work?
PR: Tiff Stevenson, Wendy Wason and I are joined by two guests every day and we read out some of the very worst casting calls that are out there, while sharing our awful audition experiences.

CM: Can you give us some examples of the kind of casting calls you’re sharing?
PR: Well, the ones we use in our publicity are good examples. Things like “she’s past her prime – aged 23-30”, or “looking for an actress with big boobs to play a sexy nun”.

CM: What sort of guests have been involved with the show?
PR: As we speak, so far we’ve been joined by Mary-Lynn Rajskub, Sally Phillips, Russell Howard, Sarah Kendall, Phil Wang and Phil Nichol. Coming up we’ve got the likes of Arabella Weir, Val McDermid, Lily Bevan, Shappi Khorsandi, Zoe Lyons and Ed Gamble.

CM: The show is listed in theatre, but sub-genre-ed as comedy. Obviously, some of what you are covering is kinda depressing and an actual problem – but are you able to find humour in it? Do the audiences laugh?
PR: Yes, in fact, one of the main points of our show is encouraging the audience to laugh because, if they didn’t, we’d all just be sat crying for an hour. Although we want to highlight the problems within the acting industry, we also want to give the audience an insight into the sheer ridiculousness of it all. And the audiences really do laugh, be it at a truly awful casting call or a guest’s incredible audition experience.

CM: Do you find that audiences are shocked by what they hear?
PR: Very much so. The casting side of the acting industry is usually very well hidden, so it’s something that people don’t normally get to see, and hearing what actually goes out to make what they watch on TV and at the cinema is quite a shock.

CM: The show is an extension of your blog, of course. What steps led to it becoming a live show?
PR: Tiff and I had been discussing the idea of turning it into a live show for quite some time, because we felt the casting calls would have a real impact when read out loud. So we put together a show for the Phoenix Fringe in London back in February, discovered it worked really well, and now here we are!

CM: Clearly, the show has important points to make – do you think this production could be instrumental in bringing about change? Even if it’s only in the way performers respond to being treated like this?
PR: I think so, because the main point is about raising awareness and, by doing that, we hope to encourage better representation within all parts of the industry.

CM: You mention the Bechdel Test in your press release for the production.  Can you explain what that is and why it is relevant to the show?
PR: The Bechdel Test looks at the representation of women in fiction so, in order for a book or film to pass the test, there need to be two named female characters who, at some point, talk to each other about anything other than men. You’d think it’s an easy test to pass but you’d be amazed at the films that don’t manage it, which is something that we look at within the show.

CM: What made you decide to bring this to Edinburgh? Are the shows going well here?
PR: Edinburgh is such a wonderful place to develop a show and reach new audiences, plus it’s full of performers who will really identify with it. We’re really enjoying the show and we’re getting to work with new guests every day, which is wonderful as each show is completely unique.

CM: Are there plans to take it to other festivals or on tour?
PR: We certainly hope so! We’d would love to take the show to as many people as possible and expand on the types of guests that we can get involved.

CM: And finally, what’s your personal plan for post-Edinburgh?
PR: Eat vegetables, sleep, catch up on all the new casting calls I’ve missed this month, and then work out what happens next.

‘Casting Call Woe’ was performed at Gilded Balloon Museum at Edinburgh Festival 2016.