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Performative Ethics: The History of Casting: A Conversation With Brian Herrera

Mon, October 29th, 2018
4:15 pm
- 5:30 pm

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This event is part of the yearlong lecture series Performative Ethics: Embodied Representation in the Commons.
How did contemporary casting practices come into being? How did actors become freelancers? Do you know the sordid history of the headshot? How has casting changed in the internet era? Why do casting controversies figure so prominently in discussions about race, gender and sexuality in contemporary theatre? Drawing upon his ongoing research for his book-length study of the topic (Casting—A History), Brian Herrera, performance historian and Associate Professor of Theater at Princeton, will invite questions from those assembled to guide a lively interactive discussion about the history of casting in US popular performance. This conversation aims to press the critical, creative and historical understanding of casting beyond familiar zero-sum measures of good/bad, success/failure or right/wrong so as to cultivate an appreciation of casting as a dynamic repertoire of performance techniques, practices and conventions ripe for experimentation, innovation and revision.

Brian Eugenio Herrera is, by turns, a writer, teacher and scholar — presently based in New Jersey, but forever rooted in New Mexico. Brian’s work, both academic and creative, examines the history of gender, sexuality, and race within and through U.S. popular performance. He is the author of Latin Numbers: Playing Latino in Twentieth-Century U.S. Popular Performance (University of Michigan Press, 2015) and is presently at work on two new book projects: Starring Miss Virginia Calhoun, a narrative portrait of a deservedly obscure early 20th century actress/writer/producer, and Casting — A History, a historical study of the material practices of casting in US popular performance, from which the topic of his talk is drawn.

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