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Chris Neville-Smith

Things I've done for the stage

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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 This is now out of date, but I am leaving this online for reference.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 1st 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.

Tuesday 8th 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 1st 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

SPOILER ALERT! Information about the characters gives away information about the plot. Read on at your own risk.

There are 10 characters in this, 5 male and 5 female. However, it was written to be performed by a cast of 6 (3 each); I would prefer to do it that way, but I will consider splitting parts depending on who auditions. The parts span a range of ages, but two of the biggest three parts are for elderly characters. There, you see, I don't just do plays for young whippersnappers. The other complication is that this play flits back and forth from the present to the past, which means that some actors need to act a range of ages.

Anyway, I am broadly looking for the following ...

May (female, 70, plays 26-70 in flashbacks): Lead female role. In the present, an elderly widow; in the past, a housewife her whole life. With a backstory of five decades in the play, she's a complicated character, but the impression I'm most keen to achieve is that of a now-vulnerable woman powerless against the outside world. (Also a bit houseproud/fussy in the past and present, but that's one of many character traits). It's essential that May looks like someone in her 70s for the present scenes; it obviously won't be possible to look the full range of ages in the flashbacks, but I'd like to do as good a job of that as possible. So I will need either someone who is the correct age but can manage to be convincingly sprightly when playing her younger self, or someone younger in real life who can be made up to look older.

Ted (male, plays 27-71 in flashbacks, doubles with Lance): One of two lead male roles. May's recently-late husband, so only appears in the flashbacks, but still a pivotal role. He is described in the script as a "large happy man", and whilst it's not essential for him to be large, I'd prefer it that way if possible. He begins as the firebrand union stalwart, ringleading the miners' strike, but never really recovers from their defeat, and between his forced retirement and old age his health declines a lot. Ted and May needs to look like a convincing couple, so, as with May, he'll need to look like a convincing 70 year-old, but I'm not too bothered about the younger ages. Don't worry too much about doubling with Lance - if you don't make a convincing Hell's Angel, I';; find a way to make it work.

Jack (male, 43, plays 18-43 in flashbacks): The third of the main three characters, Jack is Ted and May's son, who grew up in the colliery village, but unlike his parents, moved away to pursue his career as student, teacher, and now writer. He is a another complicated character, but in his thirties he goes off the rails. There are a number of reasons for this, but the one that is most important to the story is that he does not physically control his temper, and I need someone who can look and quite scary in those circumstances. As with May and Ted, more import the actor looks a convincing 43-year-old than a convincing 18-year-old - I'll use a wig for the younger scenes if necessary.

Sharon (female, 41-ish, plays c. 28-41 in flashbacks, doubles with Sylvia): Sharon is Jack's wife, described as a "shy and pleasant girl" in the script, and that describes what I'm after quite well. She also has the patience of a saint whilst her husband goes through his crazy phase. Sharon obviously needs to be played by someone who makes a convincing couple with Jack. Hopefully I can find someone who can look the full age range - failing that, it's more important that you pass yourself off as 41 than 28. If she doubes with Sylvia, I'll probably need someone the older end anyway.

Sylvia (female, plays youngish and elderly in flashbacks, doubles with Sharon): Sylvia is a jolly neighbour who appears in two area of the play: one in the early days when she's a chain-smoking younger woman, and one appearance later when she's elderly (and still chain-smoking and knows nothing of those absurd links with lung cancer). As you may have already deduced, her appearances are worked around when the actress is not needed as Sharon. This is the one occasion where I'm prepared to have someone looking younger than the age in the story (she's only elderly in one brief passage). I'd prefer to do the doubling as per the script if possible, in which case I'll probably need someone in 30s/40s (for Sharon), and also someone who can do a good contrast between shy Sharon and larger-than-life Sylvia. However, Sharon/Sylvia is the most likely pairing I'd split, in which case any age would do.

Sonja (female, early twenties, doubles with Candace): One of the eventual villains of the piece, Sonja is May's chavvy neighbour who swears at her kids and cares little about anyone else. There is a hint in the story that she had an unhappy time with the father of her children, but she is so irredeemably obnoxious it's hard to feel sorry for her. One word of caution about this part: there is a bit of going round in skimpy clothes are getting intimate with current boyfriend. I would urge anyone who's got doubts about this to read the script first and decide if they'd be comfortable doing this. There's not much room for concessions here.

Candace (female, young, doubles with Sonja): Candace is Jack's publisher's assistant, who is mentioned at several points in the story, but she only appears in person once. This is the scene where Jack makes a wildly optimistic advance on her, so she'll need to be played by someone who looks good enough to be worth making wildly optimistic family-wrecking advance on. (My interpretation of Candace is that she likes Jack, but knows the situation with his wife and kids and does the honourable thing.) I will probably stick to the Sonja/Candace doubling, but I may split them if there's a good reason to cast someone in a cameo role.

Steve (male, young, doubles with Les): Steve is the removal man, so he'll need to be someone who isn't too tiny to have a jog lugging furniture around. He also needs to be young enough to be an ex-pupil of Jack's. Other than that, I'm not too fussed - I will be more interested with how well you can double with the tougher part of Les. As Steve and Les are both substantial parts, I may split them - should I do that, there's a chance I will use Steve to double as Lance instead of Ted.

Les (male, young, doubles with Steve): Les is Sonja's equally chavvy boyfriend, although unsurprisingly not the father of her children. I need someone who can look easily look threatening with little effort. As with Sonja, there is bit on skimpy clothes and intimate friendliness involved - if you're not sure about this, read the script and decide for yourself if you'd be happy with this.

Lance (male, late 50s): Jack's parting shot to May's neighbours: a Hell's Angel nutter who is more than match for the occupants next door. Only appears briefly at the end, so I will almost certainly want to double him with another member of cast, unless an actual Hell's Angel turns up to the audition. Don't worry about whether you can double as a Hell's Angel - I'm confident with with the right outfit we can make you look the part.