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Casting

Posted by Paul Guthrie on June 25, 2000

In Reply to: Casting posted by Daniel Cohen on June 19, 2000

: Can anyone tell me the etymology of the word "Casting" as it applies to the assignment of parts and duties to actors or performers?

: I can perhaps see how a director would want to "cast" out a metaphorical net to bring in the performers needed for a play. Somehow though, this explanation isn't satisfying.

: When was the word first used in this theatrical sense?

: I'd be very grateful for the information.

: Thanks,

I would have thought that 'casting' in this sense would have derived from 'cast' meaning to 'set into a mold'. The metaphor in this case would be that just as say wet plaster is put into a cast and will form into the shape of it, so the actors are placed into particular roles, and will be required to shape themselves to fit the part. The casting director has the task of judging which actor will be able to most closely fit each role.
: Daniel