I started out at as an assistant stage manager at Londons’ Royal Court and went on to be a stage manager at the Bush Theatre, where I first started casting part-time. Then I worked with Gail Stevens – firstly as a full-time assistant and then as a casting director before going on to become an independent casting director.
The Royal Court job came about because even while I was at Central I was interested in new writing. I was more drawn to new work and the sort of performances that actors gave in it than to other forms of theatre. The dynamic of creating something fresh that hadn’t been seen before attracted me. The collaboration between writer, director and actor and the alchemy that created was something I found very exciting.
In our final year work placement I begged to go to the Royal Court. I got my wish and went there to work on its Howard Brenton season. I was determined to absorb as much as I could in my time there. I must have done something right, because the Royal Court offered me my first professional job as ASM on Iranian Nights by Tariq Ali and Howard Brenton, shortly after I left Central.
I expect I was nervous starting my career at such a prestigious theatre, but it was a great place to be, with talented practitioners coming in and out of the building on a daily basis.
I learned quickly that everything in this industry is about collaboration, an ability to learn quickly, to juggle priorities, to be flexible and to get used to dealing with many different personalities. Working at the Royal Court also exposed me to a high turnover of fantastic actors – both experienced and new – and gave me a taste for learning more about actors and directors and how they work. Stage management was a great route into what I do now, but many of us have been actors or worked in arts admin or for agents.
For a career in casting, any job you can do in the industry that allows you to just be around the processes of making work, whether it’s in theatre, film or television, is going to give you invaluable experience.
Training: Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
TV and film credits include: Doctor Who, Doctor Foster, Life on Mars, Years and Years, Gentleman Jack, Stan and Ollie, Gwen, Gemma Bovery
Agent: Kevin Francis at Angel and Francis
Andy Pryor was talking to John Byrne