Decorative image of piles of scripts

Chris Neville-Smith

Things I've done for the stage

Improbable Fiction (archive)

Here is the information that was on the page concerning casting. This is now out of date, but I am leaving this online for reference. Apart from the dates, the rules tend to stay the same for all DDS auditions.

The information about the parts is free for anyone else to copy if they wish to use it for their own productions. You are welcome to use or adapt as you see fit, but for heaven's sake, please make sure what you are looking for bears some resemblance to what I've written if you intend to use the info as it is.


There are two dates related to casting:

Tuesday 9th July, 7.30p.m.: read-through. This is an open event open to all members of Durham Dramatic Society (and any non-members considering joining). This takes the form of a read-through of the whole script. Parts are allocated and reallocated amonst attendees in order to give as many people as possible as chance to read as many characters as possible. In general, men will only be allocated male parts and women will only be allocated female parts, but during the readings we usually ignore age discrepancies. This is your chance to see what the play is like and decide if you fancy auditioning for any of the parts, and forms will be given out for anyone wishing to audition. If you can't make it to the reading, or you'd like to check the play in advance, you're welcome to contact me and borrow a copy of the script.

Thursday 18th July, 7.30p.m.: audition. At the audition, everyone who had put their name down will be given a chance to read for the part(s) they are auditioning for. The same passages will be read out again and again until everyone who wants to do the part has had a go at the same passage. Afterwards, I will make my recommendations to the casting committee, and the casting committee will have the final decision. Everyone will know one way or the other within a few days of the audition.

If you cannot make the audition on the specified date, please contact me in advance and I will arrange an alternative time - but it is a DDS rule that alternative auditions must take place before the main audition, so please let me know by the 9th so that the casting committee has time to arrange this. You do not have to be a member to audition for a part, but if you are offered a part you will have to join DDS if you are not already a member. I have bent the rules for smaller things in the past, but non-members in mainstream plays is a definite no-no. Also, you will need to contribute £8.00 towards the cost of the script. Annoying, I know, but with Samuel French charging a fortune for scripts on top of performing rights we don't have much choice.

Some more information about the parts available


There are seven parts in Improbable Fiction covering a variety of ages, as listed below. Six of them are members of the Pendon Writers' Circle, all people with various difficulties with their lives. The play starts with a typical meeting, but things only get complicated (for both storyline and acting) when the chairman, Arnold, suddenly finds himself in the stories of the writers, played by the writers. As a result, everyone except Arnold plays four different characters. During the auditions, I will need to consider not how you perform as a member of the writers' circle, but also as the major characters in the story.

The characters are, in order of appearance:

Arnold: Male, 40s - 60s. Chairman of the Writers' Circle, although he does not do any writing himself, other than instruction manuals. Confined to his house by his bed-ridden mother; the writers' circle is his only break in the week from being a round-the-clock carer. Gentle, unassuming man who encourages all the writers and tries hard to smooth over all the bickering. Reacts to all of the stories he finds himself in with mild bemusement. This is the lead part in the play, and invovles being on the stage in most of the first act and all of the second act. A very challenging commitment.

Ilsa: Female, 18 - early 20s. Local girl from the council estate who looks after Arnold's mother during the writers' circle. Considers herself very much the outsider from the older predominently middle-class writers, regards them amazement, thinks she's not worthy to be in the same room as them, but nonetheless feels privileged that Arnold grants her this honour. In the stories, plays an heiress in a melodrama driven mad by her scheming cousin, and a housemaid accused of murder in a Poirot rip-off. This is probably the second most challenging part in the play after Arnold.

Grace: Female, 40s-50s. Fragile housewife, evidently in an unhappy marriage. Wants to do an illustrated children's book called "Doblin the Goblin", originally intended to be for her children, but that was years ago before her children grew up. Gets little support from writers' group and even less from her husband. In the second act, her main role is the brittle ex-mistress who turns out to be the murderer.

Jess: Female, 40s-50s. Farmer, generally cynical about life. Wants very much to write historical romance, but has so far not dared put a single word to page, instead endless procratinating with unnecessary research. Becomes the tutor-cum-narrator for her own Brontë-esque melodrama in the second act.

Vivvi: Female, 30s. Journalist who write, writes and over-writes 1930s crime fiction. Now on her sixth book, the obvious theme running through all of this is she is really writing about some lost love of hers from years ago, referenced again and again as a detecting sergeant in love with her chief inspector. In the second act she does, of course, plays the lovelorn detective sergeant she writes about.

Clem: Male, 30s. Conspiracy theorist who writes science fiction, or as he called it, "science fact", mainly because his incomprehensible story is based on his unassailable belief that the council office where he works has been inflitrated by aliens. In the second act, plays the wicked scheming nephew in the melodrama and the detective chief inspector who Vivvi loves in the murder mystery.

Brevis: Male, 60s+. Retired primary school teacher who misses the power he used to have. Relives the glory days when he used to write and stage one school musical after another, but now has nowhere to go. Now highly embittered and disparaging of everyone else's efforts, especially Clem's crimes against grammar. In the second act, in a twist of irony, he plays the hero in Clem's incomprehensible sci-fi, and a kindly doctor in the melodrama.