Playing to type: Casting, ‘industry’ and ‘invisible training’ in the National Youth Theatre’s ‘Playing Up 2’
Theatre, Dance and Performance Training
Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Reason for embargo
Under indefinite embargo pending publication by Taylor & Francis
Alongside its core actor and stage technician training activities, the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain runs a number of additional training programmes, targeting specific ‘marginalised’ groups. These are usually offered free of charge to participants. This article examines the 2009/10 iteration of the social inclusion actor training programme ‘Playing Up 2’ (subsequently suspended and reinstated as ‘Playing Up’), drawing on a period of rehearsal observation and interviews I carried out during and after the final showcase performance The Block. This new writing project was set on a fictional London housing estate and the play included several stereotypical archetypes of inner-city, working class characters (the black drug dealer, the mentally ill young racist, the benefit claiming single mother). In this article, I begin by considering the politics of casting in The Block project; I then focus on how the notion of ‘social inclusion’ mediated participants’ understanding of the relationship between their personal and professional identities. I demonstrate how asking young people to embody stereotypes closely related to their ‘real’ identities caused significant tensions within the training process — exacerbated by the ‘socially excluded’ label given to the Playing Up 2 participants. I reveal how the organisation of the programme and interactions with tutors operated as ‘invisible’ elements of the training process, reinforcing the ideas about ‘industry’ that students were exposed to in the curriculum.
This is the author's accepted manuscript
Awaiting citation and doi