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Leading theatres and casting directors sign up to #YesOrNo audition campaign

Organisations that have committed to getting back to every actor who auditions include, clockwise from top left, the National Theatre (photo: Philip Vile), the Almeida in London (photo: Philafrenzy/Wiki), Bristol Old Vic and Leicester's Curve
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Organisations including the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company as well as leading casting directors have committed to giving every actor they audition at least a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.

This comes amid an ongoing social media campaign by actor Danny Lee Wynter, also a founder of diversity initiative Act for Change, in which industry figures have called for a minimum audition response using the hashtag #YesOrNo.

Announcing its updated casting policy, the National’s head of casting Alastair Coomer said: “It is vital that we pay respect to the actors we meet by always acknowledging their work and contribution to the casting process, which is why the NT wholly supports the #YesOrNo initiative.”

Other major theatres who have told The Stage they are formally committing to responding to all actors they audition include the Almeida and Royal Court theatres in London and Chichester Festival Theatre. Leicester’s Curve,  London’s Orange Tree Theatre and the Royal Exchange in Manchester said responding to all actors was already a part of their casting policy.

Curve chief executive Chris Stafford and artistic director Nikolai Foster said: “A 10-minute audition can mean several hours prep (reading, research, singing lessons et al) and travel for an artist – it’s vital we acknowledge that, whether they get the job or not.”

Bristol Old Vic, the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse and the Mercury Theatre Colchester are among others The Stage understands have pledged to give artists a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as part of the campaign.

Casting directors who have made a formal commitment include Andy Pryor, Dan Hubbard, Rachel Sheridan, Aisha Bywaters Casting and Annie Rowe.

A statement from the Casting Directors’ Guild said: “As laid out in the CDG’s Code of Conduct, released earlier this year, we encourage our members to keep actors and their agents as informed as possible about their status within the casting process, and endeavour to let them know when an actor is no longer in the running for a role.

Casting Directors’ Guild launches code of conduct to protect actors

“We recently met with Danny and a group of actors, as well as Spotlight, to discuss #YesOrNo and will continue to work across the industry to improve the casting process for all actors.”

Part of the campaign has suggested that casting site Spotlight features a button on postings to show when a role has been filled. A spokeswoman from Spotlight said it supports the initiative and is “working on including this functionality in their ongoing improvements to the casting process”.

Equity added that it was encouraging the casting industry to notify all performers of the outcome of their audition. This is already part of the union’s recent Manifesto for Casting, which was released last year and features a number of recommendations to improve the casting process for actors.

Following the recent commitments from theatres and casting professionals, Wynter said: “I know my colleagues are delighted by the amount of casting directors and theatres stepping forward – so many. It’s galvanising, but not nearly enough. Our hope is that more get on board soon – this includes those in the world of TV and film casting.”

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