The assistant to the casting director, or firm of multiple casting directors, is responsible for supporting the company’s operations through a number of administrative and secretarial tasks, as well as performing research and preparation for auditions. This is an entry-level position and is considered an apprenticeship toward a career as a casting director.
The specific job description of a casting assistant will vary by employer, but the essential responsibilities are the same. This person compiles and maintains the firm’s database of information on clients and performers. The electronic or paper system will include data pertaining to every production cast by the company, including details about the production company, directorial staff, and billing. Additionally, records are kept for every auditioner associated with a particular show; this includes the performer’s headshot and résumé, agent’s information, union affiliation, and notes on his or her audition. All correspondence between the casting firm and client or other agents is cataloged and sorted by show or corresponding actor. The casting assistant is responsible for conducting any necessary research concerning a new client and new show. Vital information must include period, style, theme, information on past productions of the show, previous cast and directorial team, etc. Some casting directors may own a library of resources for numerous shows, including librettos, musical scores, DVDs, and cast recordings. It would be an assistant’s job to catalog and maintain this collection.
In addition to placing calls to agents and clients on behalf of the casting director, the assistant will also schedule appointments and audition sessions, coordinating logistics with the directorial clients, the casting venue, and actors’ agents. The assistant will prepare all audition materials, such as copies of sheet music, script excerpts, and contact forms. If requested by the casting director, the assistant will be present at auditions to corral performers and conduct the check-in process.
Skills & Education
A college degree in theatrical arts is preferred for employment as a casting assistant, but a formal education with equivalent experience in theatrical production is acceptable. You should be highly knowledgeable about Broadway, including traditional plays and musicals. Familiarity with opera or nontraditional theater is also beneficial. Proficiency in standard computer applications like Word, Excel, Outlook, Mail, Pages, and Numbers is necessary, and you must be capable of quickly adapting to internal database systems. As this position is considered a formal steppingstone toward a career as a casting director, education in acting, directing, and dramatic criticism is encouraged. While on the job, you should take the opportunity to learn the intangibles of spotting talent, dissecting a character, and discerning the right performer to fit each part. Casting is a skill that comes with experience and cannot be taught in a classroom.
What to Expect
The vast majority of professional theatrical casting firms are located in New York to serve Broadway, touring productions, and the Northeast’s many prominent regional and repertory theater companies. While entry-level casting assistant positions are available to those with appropriate education, an internship with a casting firm is the preferred first step. Most of these internships are unpaid; interns earn college credit instead. However, temporarily providing free labor can provide substantial benefits to your career. Applicants with internship experience will have a considerable advantage over the competition, and often the firm providing the internship will elect to offer permanent employment to exemplary interns.
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