Spring Season 2015 Audition Notice These Shining Lives Written by Melanie Marnich Directed by Kate Moore Tuesday 17 – Saturday 21 March 2015 The Lion and Unicorn Theatre 1. Auditions You do not need to prepare anything in advance. Auditions will take the form of improvisations and cold readings using scenes from the script. The play spans sixteen years, from 1922 to 1938, so I’ll be looking for actors who have the ability to play both young and old(er), energetic and world-weary, and take the audience with them on that sixteen-year journey. This production will be staged in the round, so I’ll also be looking out for actors who can physically embody their characters – making them as interesting to watch from the sides and the back as from the front. On the night you will be asked to fill in a preference form so that we have your contact details and know if there are any specific parts you'd like to audition for. Date: 12th, 13th & 14th January. Please come on whichever day suits you Time: 7pm Venue: Clean Break Studios, 2 Patshull Road, Kentish Town, NW5 2LB. The nearest tube is Kentish Town Recalls will be on Saturday 17th January from 10am to 2pm. You will be called on Friday 16th if we'd like to see you again. 2. Show Dates We’ll be performing from Tuesday17th to Saturday 21st March at The Lion and Unicorn Theatre in Kentish Town. The shows will start at 7.30pm and you’ll need to be at the theatre at least an hour beforehand. The dress rehearsal will be on Monday 16th March. You will need to be free from midday onwards, possibly all day. 3. Rehearsals Rehearsals will be on Monday and Wednesday evenings and Sunday afternoons/evenings. All rehearsals will be in central London. 4. About the Play These Shining Lives is based on a true story – the story of the Radium Girls: ordinary working women who were terminally poisoned in the course of their employment (their job was to draw numbers onto watch faces with radium paint) and who fought with courage and tenacity to bring their employers to justice. If this was a film pitch, the play is Erin Brockovich meets Made in Dagenham, dusted with the emotional power of Love Story and starring the Pink Ladies from Grease: all set in the Roaring Twenties. Though the women are dying, theirs is a story of survival in its most transcendent sense, as they refuse to allow the company that stole their health to kill their spirits – or endanger the lives of those who come after them. It’s a challenging, demanding play for both male and female actors. The play comprises twenty scenes that flow seamlessly and fluidly together. Such fluidity requires a minimal set; the play will be brought to life through period costume and – most importantly of all – impeccable character acting from a tight-knit ensemble cast. Marnich has written a beautiful script, rich in relationships, and rehearsals will use that script as a starting point to flesh out the characters’ back stories, building on the source material through improvisation and detailed character work so that actors can create fully rounded interpretations. Given the play is so much about time – the women painting watch faces, even as time is running out for them – the soundscape of this production will be built on ticking clocks, as well as authentic music from the 1920s and 1930s. 5. Accents The play is set in Illinois and Chicago, USA, so general American accents are required. Please do not let accents scare you or put you off auditioning. You do not need to audition in accent unless you feel comfortable doing so. I would much rather see what you can do than see you focusing on the accent. 6. Cast Breakdown 10 actors (4 women, 6 men) Female parts All four actresses need to be able to perform comedy and tragedy equally well. Their early scenes together are all quick-witted banter and high-energy humour – but each woman also plays a scene in which she is diagnosed with a terminal illness and has to face the imminent reality of her own death. All four women are brave, strong, spirited heroines. They are never victims. They are a close-knit group and the chemistry between their different personalities is hugely important. Catherine (20s-30s) Catherine is the audience’s Everywoman in the play, their way in to the story – she narrates directly to the audience and is in every scene in the play, requiring a huge amount of stamina. A significant part of the play examines the relationship between Catherine and her husband Tom, and how their loving partnership is affected first by her decision to work at all, later by her initial worries about her health, and finally by her diagnosis and her decision to go to court. She is by turns gutsy, scared, resolute, affectionate, intimate – and always likeable. She has several monologues delivered on stage alone, so the actress will need to have a commanding stage presence. Given the fluidity of the play, she also needs to be able to switch quickly between scenes, settings and emotions smoothly and convincingly. Charlotte (20s-30s) If these Radium Girls are the Pink Ladies, Charlotte is the Rizzo character. She is fast-talking, fast-living, bolshy and bold, funny, sexy, cynical and wild – yet with perhaps the most sensitive soul of all the women hidden inside her brash exterior; a sensitivity she only sometimes lets show. Pearl (20s-30s) Pearl is the joker of the group (literally: she has a passion for ‘knock, knock’ jokes). She is sweet, friendly, and eager to please. A bit of a giggler, she comes across as the youngest of the girls. Frances (20s-40s) Frances is the ‘moral backbone’ of the gang, and has the potential to be played by an older actress to the rest of the women. While she is more serious and reserved than the others, she also has a very dry sense of humour and a big heart, and she is well-loved and well-respected by her friends. Male parts Tom (20s-30s) Tom is married to Catherine. This is a role demanding huge range from an actor, as Tom needs to express the full gamut of emotions, from injured male pride (when his wife first starts to work – and earns more than him) to overwhelming love; terrified fear to heartbreaking grief; murderous anger to burning passion. There is also plenty of back story to explore: Tom fought in the First World War and his experiences there clearly had a powerful impact upon him; Catherine saved him, but he cannot save her… Mr Reed (any age) Mr Reed is the foreman of Radium Dial, the company where the women work. The actor playing him will need to decide how much he knows about the terminal effect of the radium, when he knows it, and why he keeps working there regardless, even though he knows the work is killing the women. This part requires an actor who can express wordlessly what he is thinking or feeling – or, rather, express it even while the script may be giving him lines that don’t give away those emotions. Dr Dalitsch (any age) Dr Dalitsch is the one doctor who is honest with the women, and he is the one who delivers the diagnosis that they will die because of the radium poisoning. He is blunt yet kind, a good soul. His presence changes the energy in the play. He appears in only two scenes, in his doctor’s office and on the stand at the trial, so this role may suit a brilliant actor who does not have the time to commit to a large role this season. Leonard Grossman (any age) Leonard Grossman, attorney at law, is the take-no-prisoners lawyer who agrees to represent the women in court. He is a showman: charismatic, confident, dominating the stage with huge energy. He is an impassioned socialist and a brilliant lawyer, as well as a frank realist; he’s quick-witted and fast-talking, yet also kind. He takes the case because it’s the right thing to do, not to make money. Grossman appears in only three scenes in the play, so again this part would suit a great actor who may be looking for a smaller time commitment this season. Reporter 1 / Dr Rowntree / Radio announcer (any age) These parts require a very versatile actor, as they’re all quite different. The two reporters are frequently onstage in this production, each time bringing high energy and dynamism to their appearances with their ‘read all about it!’ cries. An ability to deliver comic ad libs would be a plus. Dr Rowntree is a kind of early ‘TV doctor’, more concerned with his appearance on the cover of the latest medical journal and the sound of his own voice than with scientific fact. The radio announcer is a slick and smarmy radio DJ, with more than a hint of high-end used-car salesman about him. Reporter 2 / Company doctor (any age) As above, reporter 2 is a part that demands high energy and charisma, and is frequently onstage, keeping the pace up throughout the production. This actor will also play the company doctor, in a truly uncomfortable scene with Catherine, where he denies anything is wrong with her at all, toeing the company line. As with Mr Reed, this part requires an actor who can communicate narrative beyond what’s on the page. He should provoke a feeling of untrustworthiness and portentousness, even while his words are seemingly intended to reassure.
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