CHECKING IN WITH JACOB WATSON
It’s been a busy and exciting month for the Always Greener team as we prepare for our sneak peek events in May. Jacob Watson, Artistic Producer, shares some insight into where we are in the process and what’s to come.
What have you learned in your time as the artistic producer of
JW: Accessibility breeds creativity because it asks us to think about things in new terms. Nobody has ever done what we are doing, so there's no roadmap. My role on the team is to keep track of a process that is emergent and non-linear. So every time a new direction emerges I have to ask myself: is this an important accommodation we need to make, or should we stay the course with our original plan?
We recently worked with casting director, Laura Alcala Baker, to cast our May performances. What was that experience like?
JW: Working with Laura has been incredible in opening up possibilities for what inclusive casting can look like. So much of what she did with us was naming these easy and obvious ways to lower the barrier to participation -- which, for whatever reason, don't seem obvious when you're somebody who is used to traditional casting processes.
What inclusive practices would you like to see implemented in casting musical theatre shows?
JW: For example, if someone doesn't have a headshot and resume, you're ready to take their photo and performance history onsite. That's a small example that counts big. But there's also big stuff that's gonna take more effort such as training your ear and eye to reconsider what virtuosity looks like. As actors, our bodies are our instruments, and since we all have different bodies, our instruments have different ranges of expression. A good chunk of inclusive casting work, in my opinion, is just learning to expand our notion of what a "good fit" for a particular role might look like: e.g., why can't this character use a wheelchair, or use a walker, or whatever? Does it really disrupt the storytelling, or are you just afraid you won't know how to deal with it?
Anything else you want to share about your experience producing Always Greener?
JW: It's been a really amazing experience so far. We are gonna need lots of support over the next few months. We hope people feel inspired to join in however they can!