A broad term for the concept of casting actors in roles that defy “traditional” racial, gender, and ability boundaries and encompasses four specific approaches to casting: Colour-blind Casting, Conceptual Casting, Cross-Cultural Casting, and Societal Casting. This concept was first introduced at the Actor’s Equity sponsored First National Symposium on Non-Traditional Casting in New York City in 1986. For more, please see Bennetts, Catanese, Davis, Newman, Sears.


Since renamed the “Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts”, The Non-Traditional Casting Project was an organization founded by Actor’s Equity in 1986 with the goal of advocating for a fully diverse and equitable theatre industry through changes in casting practices. For more, see Catanese, Newman, Salomon.


See definition here.


A casting strategy where an individual is intentionally cast in a role so that their race, gender, or ability can strengthen or change the meaning within the play.


When casting is used to transport the world of the play into a different cultural context.



When marginalized individuals are cast in societal roles to reflect a diverse society onstage.

Sources and Further Reading:

Bennetts, Leslie. “Taking Fresh Look at Casting.” The New York Times, 19 Nov. 1986,

Catanese, Brandi Wilkins. The Problem of the Color[blind]: Racial Transgression and the Politics of Black Performance. University of Michigan Press, 2012, pp. 1-31,

Davis, Clinton Turner. “Non-Traditional Casting (an Open Letter).” African American Review, vol. 31, no. 4, 1997, pp. 591–94,

Newman, Harry. “Holding Back: The Theatre’s Resistance to Non-Traditional Casting.” TDR, vol. 33, no. 3, 1989, pp. 22–36. JSTOR,

Pao, Angela Chia-yi. “Introduction.” No Safe Spaces: Re-Casting Race, Ethnicity, and Nationality in American Theater. University of Michigan Press, 2010, pp. 1-22,

Salomon, Andrew. “NTCP Changes Name, Cause the Same.” Backstage, 25 Mar. 2013,

Sears, Djanet. “Play Equity and the Blindspots.” SpiderWebShow, 16 Feb. 2016,