Casting Director, Stuart Aikins on Directing Asymmetry

by Kenji Maeda on October 21, 2011

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Many of you know Stuart Aikins as the Emmy nominated and Casting Society of America Award winning Casting Director who is busy with many Film & TV productions that come to Vancouver. What you may not know is that he has a MFA in Directing and a faculty member at Capilano University’s theatre department.

Stuart is currently directing Reality Curve Theatre‘s production of Asymmetry by Rick Robinson which is running from Oct 25-30 2011 at the Havana Theatre.

We had an opportunity to ask Stuart some questions about working on this theatrical production and his thoughts on the current state of Vancouver’s film industry.

What is it about this production that got you interested in directing it? 

I loved the fact that it was a six hander and that each couple could be rehearsed separately. I wanted the reveals to be just as exciting for the cast as the audience. It also seemed the perfect vehicle for The Havana and a great way to get my feet wet in that space.

As an award winning and busy Film & TV Casting Director, why come back to theatre?

It’s what I do in the room, I work with Actors so coming back to the immediacy was easy. In TV and Film, you work on things years in advance of seeing them so even with a couple months of rehearsing, the end product is more immediate. It’s just another kind of joy.

What differences are there in your approach as a Casting Director for Film & TV versus a Theatre Director? 

I always have to think about the Director in TV and Film and what they are looking for or will understand. I certainly don’t have that thought when I am directing as I am no longer an intermediary.

Over the years there have been discussions within the arts community about the lack of cultural diversity within film, tv, and theatre productions that come out of Vancouver. What are your thoughts on that issue? 

I have to work overtime to fill the need for diversity in all my projects. It’s the only way that the diverse talent will grow and it’s mandated by the networks. I don’t actually subscribe to the opinion that we don’t cast diverse in this city. I know we do and have to.

With Casting offices and Talent Agencies downsizing over the recent years, do you have concerns about the long-term outcomes within the local film industry due to changes in tax incentives, HST, and economy as a whole? 

This business is cyclical. I have been casting for 35 years and have seen it ebb and flow many times. I came here from Toronto before the bottom dropped out there and it was a long time coming back. We have a wonderful infrastructure here and a brilliant talent pool. The money will return. We all have to get off our butts and develop during this lag and make sure we aren’t rusty when it does come back.

What do you hope the audience will walk away with after watching Asymmetry? 

An enjoyable evening at the theatre. If they see themselves in any of the characters then great but if they were removed from their stressful lives for 90 minutes then that’s even better.

What other directing gigs do you have coming up? 

I leave after opening Asymmetry to go to CCPA to direct Ten Lost Years which opens Dec. 1. I return and begin The Crucible at Capilano University which opens February 15. Yes, I am a busy camper.


The Reality Curve Theatre Co-Op presents Rick Robinson’s “Asymmetry
October 25-30 2011 at Havana Theatre
Directed by Stuart Aikins.
Featuring Jessica Charbonneau, Leah Gibson, Cara McDowell, Paul Piaskowski, William C. Vaughan and Jerry Wasserman.
Music by Krystle Dos Santos.

Six lives. One night. Asymmetry chronicles the halting first steps of three fledgling relationships, as six damaged people fumble for intimacy and balance.

Sandy & Miguel struggle to recover what, long ago, might have become something beautiful; Julius & Priscilla reach out to each other, frantically seeking a way through the protective walls they’ve built around themselves; Maggie & Cody share an affliction, but fight against their very different views of life. Each of these broken relationships comes to a head in one night, in the same physical space, each couple unaware of the others even as their stories intertwine.

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