The ASU Theatre and Shakespeare Club clashes over casting

Members of the club disagree about casting based on gender roles and majors

The ASU Theatre and Shakespeare Club is starting fresh as the new school year sets in, but not all members agree on some of the changes taking place. 

While most of the people taking on leadership roles this year are former members, the club is working to include more theater majors and become more flexible with who they cast.  

From toying with the concept of gender roles, to switching the majors that are predominantly cast in the plays, president Jonathan Gonzales, a theater senior, said he is working to ensure the club's upcoming productions will be a success. 

His next show will be "Macbeth," which runs this month. The club is fundraising for props, costumes and set pieces for the play.

However, the play has a twist — it will be cast without regard to gender, with Macbeth played by a woman. This is one of the many changes that will be made within the club this year, as Gonzales said he is hoping to give the club more influence in the theater community at ASU by casting more theater majors in his productions. 

“For a long time, I was the only theater major involved at all and I’m wanting to switch this,” Gonzales said. “Theater majors are studying this, so as a rule they are going to be better at it and they’re also usually going to be more professional.”  

But Chiara Hommel, a  junior double-majoring in biological sciences and history, is vice president of the club. Hommel disagrees with Gonzales’ new approach to casting.

She said one of her favorite things about the club from the previous year was the opportunity to perform without a theater background. She doesn't want the club to be limited to classical productions with classically trained actors. 

“Some of our best actors and actresses are students that aren’t theatre majors,” Hommel said. “We’re not so much trying to put an emphasis on classical works as we are just trying to give people an opportunity that they probably wouldn’t have anywhere else.” 

Courtney Marnick, an ASU marketing alumna and former president of the club, said she would like the organization to have more members, regardless of what they study. 

“It’s important to be there for the club when you’re no longer president as well,” Marnick said.
“Being there to trade off information you have about the club and make sure things are running smoothly is important too.” 

But Gonzales said that the club might struggle to be recognized if it doesn't focus on theater students.

"(The theater community at ASU) doesn’t really acknowledge the fact that we as a club exist," he said. "I'm trying to get more prestige in the theater community at ASU."

Editor's Note: Courtney Marnick worked for the State Press in 2016 but is no longer with the publication.

Reach the reporter at and follow @gwynoneill on Twitter. 

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