Theatre News

Theatre casting toolkit launched by Tonic to help improve diversity on stage

The toolkit was commissioned by UK Theatre and Society of London Theatre

Indhu Rubasingham and Lucy Kerbel
Indhu Rubasingham and Lucy Kerbel
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Tonic have launched a theatre casting toolkit to help make the UK's stages and rehearsal rooms more reflective of modern society.

The toolkit was developed by Tonic following a commission from UK Theatre and Society of London Theatre (SOLT) in response to the needs of industry members, with input from Equity, the Casting Directors Guild, the Kiln Theatre and the National Theatre Data Studio.

It is designed for those involved in any part of the casting process, including directors, casting directors, producers, marketers and management. The accompanying website provides a set of practical tools, a library of resources and a 'food for thought' section.

Lucy Kerbel, founder of Tonic, said: "While there has been much conversation within the industry on broadening casting, conversation alone doesn't make change happen. When UK Theatre commissioned Tonic to create the theatre casting toolkit we jumped at the chance. By creating a hub of resources and practical tools – some designed by Tonic from scratch and others generated by experts from across theatre – we hope to convert conversation into action. The toolkit is designed to be organic and adaptable, and we welcome feedback and suggestions from users."

Specially created tools on the platform include a tracker spreadsheet that allows theatre companies to set targets for better on stage representation, record casting decisions and collect nuanced data across multiple productions. Also available are a checklist for ensuring audition spaces are accessible, a glossary of relevant language and terminology, legal FAQs around discrimination, tips on managing change and a character tool to encourage broader thinking around the casting process.

Casting director Wendy Spon added: "As theatre casting directors, representation on our stages informs what we do every day and is always at the forefront of our minds, but we can never be complacent, and we don't work in isolation. The theatre casting toolkit is a brilliant resource for everyone involved in the casting process; it encourages imaginative thinking and offers a wealth of tools and information that individuals and companies – large and small – can access in one place."

Indhu Rubasingham, artistic director at Kiln Theatre, said: "I enjoyed being part of the consultation process for the theatre casting toolkit. We're
making progress as an industry but there is always more to learn. In my experience, there are always good intentions to make positive changes in the casting process, but often there are obstacles in the way of carrying this through meaningfully. The toolkit provides extremely useful, inspiring day-to-day support to make these intentions a reality in a very busy, time precious industry."