AUDITIONS FOR SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE
Based on the screenplay by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard and adapted for the stage by Lee Hall, with music by Paddy Cunneen
Directed by Iam Coulter
At the Pumphouse Theatre February 1st to 9th, 2019
This charming evocation of another time and place takes us back to Elizabethan England, to witness the early career of one William Shakespeare. Our beloved bard is in a slump when we meet him, experiencing a stubborn case of writer’s block while producers demand pages. He forces himself to the work, holding auditions for a play not yet written – and then he meets Viola de Lesseps, disguised as male actor Thomas Kent, and their world is turned upside down. Where there were no words, now the words flow with ease on the wings of love. Romeo and Juliet is written before us, as our star-crossed lovers face the cruel realities of the world. Can Shakespeare survives the drama of being hunted by an angry fiance? Can he ever hope to please his impatient producers? Can Will and Viola bring true love to the stage before she is forced into marriage with another man? Adapted from the Oscar winning movie by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard, Shakespeare in Love will delight and inspire as only the poetry and art of Shakespeare can.
*This production is committed to inclusive and diverse casting.
ENSEMBLE – Shakespeare in Love is an ensemble cast and actors of different genders will play multiple roles in the production. Although the majority of roles are identified as male, we will be open to actors of any gender for many of these roles.
DOGS – There is a dog in this play and although not all characters interact with the dog on stage, the whole company will be in close proximity to the dog throughout rehearsals and on stage.
DIALECT – Shakespeare in Love is set in Elizabethan England so dialect work will be a part of this production. Please be prepared to demonstrate your British dialect abilities at the auditions. They don’t need to be performance ready, but we would like a sense of what tools you already possess.
INTIMACY – Shakespeare in Love contains love scenes and sexual content.
DANCE and FIGHT CHOREOGRAPHY – Experience will be an asset.
SELECT CHARACTER DESCRIPTIONS:
*indicates roles open to any gender identification
VIOLA DE LESSUPS (Female, mid 20s – mid 30s, any race)
Young, rich, unmarried and in love with theatre and poetry. She can’t be an actor because women aren’t allowed on the stage. Things start looking up for Viola when she meets poet and playwright Will Shakespeare. She rebels against her parents—and society at large—by dressing as a man and acting in Shakespeare’s play – Romeo and Juliet. Passionate, confident, and full of life.
NURSE (Female, mid 20s – mid 60s, any race)
Viola’s caretaker. The nurse is a constant source of support to Viola. She helps her cross-dress, and cover her tracks with her soon to be husband. Devoutly loyal.
QUEEN ELIZABETH I (Female, mid 30s – early 60s, any race)
She’s intimidating, exceptionally intelligent and keenly aware of her surroundings. She’s quite compassionate toward Viola. The Queen identifies with Viola because both characters are women in traditionally men’s roles. She enjoys the theatre, especially when there’s a dog involved.
JOHN WEBSTER* (young -the script refers to him as 10 years old, any race)
He is drawn to the theatre because of its potential for horrific gory scenes and bloody battles. At the time, all roles were played by men, and this young street urchin is interested in the part of Ethel – the Pirate’s daughter. He takes revenge on Will Shakespeare by ratting out Viola’s true identity to Mr. Tilney
WILL SHAKESPEARE (Male, mid 20s – late 30s, any race).
Is a struggling writer trying to find his voice, and his muse. He owes money all around town but seems more focused on securing romance than funds. His best friend Marlowe is both rival and mentor. Will falls in love Viola DeLesseps, despite the fact that she is engaged and he is married. He is cunning, intelligent, and passionate.
KIT MARLOWE* (late 20s – mid 40s, any race)
Christopher “Kit” Marlowe is based on a real-life historical figure of the same name. He gives Shakespeare the basic plot for Romeo and Juliet . He is a well respected playwright and a lot more confident than Will. He is Will’s closest friend and mentor.
NED ALLEYN* (late 20s – late 30s, any race)
Lead actor for the Admiral’s Men, a prestigious acting troupe. Will tells Alleyn the play is called ‘Mercutio’ – and Ned agrees to play it. Although seemingly egotistical, selfish, and opinionated at a glance, he takes his craft very seriously and has the deepest respect for theatre.
RICHARD BURBAGE* (early 30s – mid 50s, any race)
One of a handful of historical figures portrayed in the play. Burbage is a rival actor and theatre owner who ends up forming a truce with Henslowe after the Rose is closed. Burbage takes a stand against censorship.
LORD WESSEX (Male, late 20s – mid 50s, any race)
A man with a title but no money. He is William Shakespeare’s opposite in almost every way. Humorless, arrogant and lacking any poetry. Wessex makes a bargain with Viola’s father, trading parts of his tobacco plantations for her hand in marriage. In the end Viola must go to America with him, on orders from the Queen.
HENSLOWE* (early 30s – late 60s, any race)
The owner of the Rose, the theatre that puts on Shakespeare’s comedies. He’s in debt to Fennyman, and is constantly riding Will to finish his play so he can make money off it and repay his debts. He doesn’t understand the intricacies of theatrical structure, but he knows what he likes: “Love and a bit with a dog, that’s what they want.”
FENNYMAN* (mid 30s – late 60s, any race)
A loan shark who finances plays in return for a piece of the profit. He is “the money.” He lights a fire under Henslowe’s feet (literally) to make him pay back his debts. Fennyman is given a scene in Romeo and Juliet. He takes his role as the Apothecary very seriously and ultimately discovers a passion for theatre.
TILNEY* (early 30s – mid 60s, any race)
The Master of Revels for the English crown. Although his chief responsibility is to oversee royal festivities, he is concerned with stage censorship, which makes him both respected and feared by the play makers.
SAM* (teens –early 20’s, any race)
An Elizabethan boy actor – he is meant to play the role of Juliet, and Will’s comment on his voice foreshadows Sam’s unfortunate voice change before the play, making it deeper and rendering him unable to play a woman.
SIR ROBERT DE LESSEPS (Male 40-60’s, any race)
A successful, wealthy man. Father to Viola. He essentially sells her into marriage, and makes no bones about it.
WABASH * (any age and race)
Mr. Wabash is Fennyman’s Tailor – Fennyman gives him a part in Romeo and Juliet because he owes him money.
RALPH (Male, 30-60’s, any race)
An actor/barman – plays the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet.
- A prepared monologue (Shakespeare or Modern) to highlight your abilities (no more than two minutes in length).
- All actors will be asked to perform a short Shakespearean monologue or sonnet of their choosing. The piece should be no more than 1 minute in length and can be comedic, dramatic, or romantic. Memorization is not a requirement. There will be a small selection of Shakespearean monologues available at auditions for those who are not able to prepare their own piece beforehand.
- A sampling of any of the prepared text spoken with a British dialect.
- A cold read may be requested
- Please bring your resume and headshot to the audition
Not a traditional actor? That is okay, get in touch with us and we will find a way for you to showcase what you have to offer.