Coalitional Casting

COALITIONAL CASTING: A term coined by Brown University professor Patricia Ybarra, “coalitional casting,” refers to a casting strategy that educational and training institutions can use when mounting a production with actors who may not align with the cultural identities and experiences of the characters they are expected to play. Ybarra Continue Reading

Colour-Blind Casting

COLOUR-BLIND CASTING: Although the terms “colour-blind” and “race-blind” carry ableist connotations, they are popularly used to describe the practice of attempting to ignore the race of the performers during and after the casting process. In shows that are cast using this strategy, the performers’ race does not change the race Continue Reading

Colour-Conscious Casting

COLOUR-CONSCIOUS CASTING: Also known as “race-conscious casting,” this is the practice of actively acknowledging the race of the performers during the casting/rehearsal process. This approach differs from “colour-blind casting” in that rather than attempting to ignore the actors’ race during the casting process, the actors’ race is actively acknowledged and Continue Reading


COLOURISM: Prejudice, discrimination, or “preferential treatment” based on skin colour within a racial or ethnic group, often using skin tone as a scale to determine an individual’s proximity to whiteness and assign privilege and power accordingly. For more, see Emeka, Greenidge, Krasner, and “Shadeism.” Sources and Further Reading: Emeka, Justin. Continue Reading

“Cripping Up”

“CRIPPING UP”: Coined by playwright Kaite O’Reilly, “cripping up” refers to the act of a non-disabled/ able-bodied person acting like they have a disability when they do not. In regards to casting, this often takes the form of non-disabled actors playing characters with physical disabilities (e.g. Kevin McHale playing Artie Continue Reading

Cultural Dramaturgy

CULTURAL DRAMATURGY: A dramaturgical approach currently being developed and practiced by theatre artist and dramaturge Sadie Berlin. This approach aims to create a higher quality of theatre by focusing on cultural intimacy, specificity, and authenticity for every performance. Although Berlin did not invent the idea of cultural dramaturgy, she has Continue Reading

Culturally Specific Theatre Company

CULTURALLY SPECIFIC THEATRE COMPANY: A term that refers to a theatre company established with a specific mandate to support the creation and production of theatre by and for people from a particular, often marginalized, cultural group. Culturally specific theatre companies are born out of a lack of representation and opportunities Continue Reading

Digital Blackface

DIGITAL BLACKFACE: Stemming from the offensive traditions of blackface minstrelsy, the term “digital blackface” refers to the online appropriation of Black people by white and non-Black users. This kind of performance can take many forms, with the most widespread being the overuse of GIFs featuring Black individuals, mainly celebrities. Critic Continue Reading

Identity-Conscious Casting

IDENTITY-CONSCIOUS CASTING: Recent scholarship suggests that conscious casting should go past the colour-conscious and instead use “identity-conscious casting.” This term refers to consciously acknowledging an actor’s identity in relation to the play text during and after the casting process. Using “identity-conscious casting,” directors and casting directors can use the actor’s Continue Reading


#INTHEDRESSINGROOM: Spearheaded by Black artists at the Stratford Festival, the #inthedressingroom conversation began in 2020 on Twitter as a platform for Black artists to have their voices heard regarding the racism and injustice they have historically faced and continue to face in the Canadian theatre industry. In early June of Continue Reading

Gender-Blind Casting

GENDER-BLIND CASTING: As with “colour-blind casting,” this term has ableist connotations, though it has been used to describe the practice of casting actors to play roles whose gender identity is different from their own. The most significant difference between “gender-swapped” or “gender-conscious” casting and “gender-blind casting” is the director’s intention. Continue Reading

Gender-Swapped Casting

GENDER-SWAPPED CASTING: Also sometimes referred to as “gender-conscious casting” and “cross-gender casting,” this is the practice of casting performers of different genders in roles written as or traditionally played by someone of another gender, typically male. This concept is different from “gender-blind casting,” as “gender-swapped casting” reimagines the role using Continue Reading

Non-Traditional Casting

NON-TRADITIONAL CASTING: 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 Continue Reading

Recuperative Casting

RECUPERATIVE CASTING: A casting strategy identified by scholar Lindsay Mantoan which works against the common whitewashing of canonical texts. Instead of recasting the same white characters from a specific show with a diverse group of actors, Mantoan suggests that directors can use “recuperative casting” to change the characters’ identities and Continue Reading


REDFACE: The offensive practice of white/non-Indigenous performers being cast as and portraying Indigenous characters. Redface performance is often achieved by non-Indigenous performers altering their appearance by darkening their skin and/or appropriating cultural clothing and imagery in an attempt to portray and/or mimic Indigenous peoples. Another form of redface performance may Continue Reading


SHADEISM: While most scholarship suggests that the terms “shadeism” and “colourism” can be used interchangeably and “colourism” may arguably be more prevalent, it is worth listing both terms as each have slightly different implications. “Shadeism” has been described as a type of intraracial discrimination where the darkness of one’s skin, Continue Reading


#WESEEYOU: A hashtag used on social media by We See You, White American Theater (WSYWAT), a theatre collective created by a group of BIPOC theatremakers. Beginning with the release of an open letter in June 2020 titled “Dear White American Theater” that accumulated signatures from over 300 BIPOC artists in Continue Reading


WHITEFACE: The act of a performer purposefully whitening or lightening their skin tone, adopting or performing gestures, language, clothing, and depicting certain “social entitlements” that are identified with whiteness to be perceived as white onstage or portray ideas of whiteness. As scholar Dr. Marvin McAllister suggests, whiteface performance is tied Continue Reading


WHITEWASHING: When used in the theatrical sense, “whitewashing” results from using non-traditional casting to cast white actors in roles that are written to be non-white characters. Whitewashing effectively erases the racial and ethnic identity and overwrites the cultural significance of the role. For more, please see Hererra, Guin, Morikawa. Sources Continue Reading


YELLOWFACE: The offensive practice of using makeup, costumes, movements, music, accents in an attempt to portray a stereotyped depiction of Asianness. This practice is typically performed by non-Asian actors and can take the form of performers wearing eye make-up/prostheses to give their eyes the appearance of being more slanted; using Continue Reading


This timeline consists of some events that were, and still are, significant in the area of casting practises within Canadian theatre and performance. However, this is an ongoing conversation, and we recognize that a lot of casting practises are still being challenged and evolve every day. We hope this urges Continue Reading