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The craft of acting

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Prague-based casting director Nancy Bishop has cast more than 50 television and feature films projects. Her recent credits include G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra, The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian and Wanted. In 2002 she began offering master classes to teach actors how to audition in front of the camera. Bishop puts much of this information in her new book, Secrets From the Casting Couch, which she will introduce to local readers this week.

When did you start teaching actors how to audition for the camera?
I held my first workshop in 2002 when there was a slump in film productions. I thought, there are so many actors who need help with this. There are a lot of really good actors who don’t cast well. Then I started going around Europe doing it. My first master class outside the Czech Republic was in Berlin. I didn’t know if anyone was going to want to come, but it sold out.

Who attends your master classes?

In Germany I’ve taught a couple people who are quite famous, actually. Then I get some people who really want it and have had very little experience. I worked with some of Slovenia’s most famous actors, and some of them, even though they’re really good, had forgotten some basic acting skills.

What about Czech actors?

Many Czech actors aren’t motivated to work in international film because there’s so much going on here: There are TV projects, there’s a theatre in every town. Some Czech actors who are trying to make it abroad though. Pavel Kriz is one who just got an agent in London. There are a few Czech actors in Los Angeles. They’re not famous, but they’re working.

How did you find moving from theatre to film?
I knew how to work with actors because I was a theatre director. As a casting director you try to get a performance out of them for the camera. In theatre you have to get them to be good throughout the whole show, but in casting you just have to get one good take. The other thing I learned when I first started working in film was that actually film production are just as disorganized as we were when I was artistic director of Black Box Theatre in the early 1990s. They’re always flying by the seat of their pants.

Nancy Bishop will introduce Secrets From the Casting Couch on Thursday 17 September at the Globe Bookstore (

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