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Talent Agents A new talent agency hasn't changed D.C. theater culture. Yet.

Not so long ago, casting plays in Washington didn’t involve a middleman. When Capital Talent Agency opened up shop last year, that was supposed to change. By late 2011, some 62 actors had signed up. So has it affected a quiet, friendly theater culture? Not yet. CTA’s founders, Roger Yoerges, a trial lawyer whose son is an actor (and client), and Jeremy Skidmore, a director taking an artistic hiatus to earn an MBA, say they’ll know CTA is successful when a second agency appears. So far, a deal with an agent hasn’t proved a path to theatrical riches. Though CTA has landed gigs in other cities for its clients, members of its growing stable say they still rely on their own contacts for local stage work. And in early 2012, CTA will lose one of its founders, when Skidmore ends his leave and returns to the director’s chair. At least he’ll know where to look for casting.

Our Readers Say

In his final sentence, Freed touches on, but doesn't dig deeply enough, into the problem with CTA. There is a significant conflict of interest when a casting agent is also a free-lance director. When Mr. Skidmore directs a show, why would he hire any actor who isn't represented by the casting company he runs? By casting CTA actors, he and his company can collect their agent fee for the hire and many even be able to negotiate a higher salary for the actor - in return, netting the agency a higher fee. Even without this financial motive, by putting his agency's actors in his plays, he is exposing and promoting those actors to other theatres and directors around town, which could translate into even more agent fees for CTA. It's surprising that the actors' union hasn't raised an issue with this, but you can be sure that when only/mostly CTA actors appear in Skidmore's shows, those actors not represented by CTA will begin to realize what's going on and will have something to say about it.

Perhaps Mr. Skidmore is prepared to sever all ties, financial and otherwise, with CTA (as he should)when he returns to directing, but something tells me this will not be the case.

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