Backstage and Beyond - Jacob Sparrow, Casting Assistant
Welcome to Backstage and Beyond, a series of interview in which we talk to theatre industry professionals to find out more about their jobs. Everyone knows what an actor does, but it takes a lot more than just the people on stage to make a show. Please join us as we quiz people in all sorts of cool theatre jobs on their work, what it involves, and how you could do the same. Up this week is Jacob Sparrow, who works at the National Theatre as casting assistant.
How do you become a casting assistant?
Before I started this job, I had worked with various casting offices in London and New York, and cast some small scale freelance productions. You need to like going to the theatre and be good at remembering names and faces of actors, directors, writers and theatre makers.
What does your daily schedule look like?
My daily schedule can vary, as every day is different. I might be reading scripts, creating casting breakdowns, checking the availabilities of actors, setting up audition sessions, seeing a production or an understudy run, creating ideas lists for productions, or running audition days with directors and actors.
What are the best parts and the worst parts of your job?
The best part is the variety and opportunity to work on productions with excellent directors, writers, actors and choreographers. The worst part is that, with so much theatre available in London and regionally, it means that inevitably you aren’t able to watch everything. So sometimes you’ll miss out on something really good!
What advice would you give to young people who are interested in going into your line of work?
Make sure you watch as much theatre and film as you can, and think about what actors you like and what qualities you like about them. It’s great practice to really engage with what you are watching, and think about why you like or dislike what you see. And make sure your school signs up to NT On Demand in Schools!
What do you enjoy about working at the National Theatre?
The variety of projects I work on is incredibly exciting: we work on revivals of plays and musicals, as well as new plays and commissions that can respond to and reflect the society we live in. Also, the building is full of people who are amazing at what they do. It is very inspiring to be surrounded by such a dynamic and skilled workforce.