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Reading Open Air Shakespeare 2015

Audition Notice: The Merry Wives of Windsor

Audition 7.30pm Park United Reform Church, Small Hall



Please Note

Please contact the director Tony Wernham on 0797 3333 778 or by email at director2015@readingopenair.com to confirm your attendance at this audition.

About the Play

Performance Dates: Wednesday 15th - Saturday 25th July 2015 (Not Sunday 19th)

Shakespeare's bawdy comic romp follows loveable rogue, Sir John Falstaff, as he attempts to woo, swindle and cheat the two irrepressible wives. But he finds himself no match for their cunning, as they repel his odious advances, heaping humiliation upon humiliation on him.

Meanwhile a jealous but blundering husband tries to catch Falstaff in the act of seducing his wife, and daughter Anne tries to outwit her distracted parents to marry the man she loves.

The production is being set in 1790s Berkshire, and will involve significant audience interaction, possibly incorporating music and simple dance. It will take an irreverent approach, not shying away from the bawdier elements of the play.

There will be a stage with very simple lighting and minimal scenery and props. We also need helpers to run stage management, bar, front of house and box office and crew to set up and store gazebos and furniture each night as the site is open to the public during the day.

Auditions

All auditionees will be asked to prepare from an audition piece supplied at the auditions. The audition will consist of individual, group and physical work.

Rehearsals are planned to start on 29th March, and continue approximately 3 times a week until closer to the performance dates, when they will be more frequent. Attendance required will be relative to the part taken, so not everyone will be called to every rehearsal.

Performances will take place within the gardens of Caversham Court by the Thames at Reading.

All Cast should expect to attend promotional events and help out with setting up and taking down the staging at the venue. Please note that Progress Theatre is a not-for-profit community theatre, and all roles are unpaid.

If you are interested in auditioning or have any questions, please contact the director, Tony Wernham on 0797 3333 778 or by email at director2015@readingopenair.com.

Characters

Ages are a rough guide to the character only, but due to child protection regulations we are unfortunately only able to accept actors over 16 years old. We will be considering females for a number of the roles below.

Sir John Falstaff - Male aged 45 - 65; overweight, unprincipled rogue, unable to resist temptation. The fat knight of the Henry IV plays has gone to seed. He is now an overweight buffoon, tricking and cheating his way through life to support the style to which he has become accustomed. A strong sense of comic timing and over-the-top physical comedic skills are required.

Francis Ford - Male aged 35 - 55; respectable but chronically insecure, rage-prone jealous husband. Alice Ford's husband and a good friend to George Page, his suspicions of his wife's infidelities leads him to humiliations, but when he is finally reconciled with his wife, he participates in Falstaff's ultimate humiliation. An ability to humorously convey fuming, red-faced, pompous frustration to the audience is required, though he is far from being an unsympathetic character.

George Page - Male aged 35 - 55; respectable, relaxed and trusting husband. Margaret Page's husband and a good friend to Master Ford, he has no doubts as to his wife's faithfulness, he tries to moderate Ford's jealousies. He is a laid-back relaxed counter-balance to Ford, being a straight man to Ford's comic character.

Host of the Garter Inn - Male aged 35 - 55; pub landlord, and 18th century little Englander. A bar-room bigot and prankster, who flatters his customers in the hope that they will spend more. This role will be more prominent than in the original text, as he will also deliver the prologue and epilogue to the play, as well as between-scenes commentaries, all in modern English. These will be workshopped and will involve audience interaction and improvisation, and calls for strong on-the-spot skills.

Sir Hugh Evans - Male aged 30 - 65; Welsh parson, teacher and voice of moderation. Sir Hugh is the local clergyman, though his Welsh dialect makes him a figure of fun for some in the town (a "mountain-foreigner"), especially the Host, and he makes it his mission to help Slender woo Anne. The role requires the ability to adopt an over-the-top 16th century stereotype Welsh accent, and the character needs to be comically eccentric but not a fool.

Doctor Caius - Male aged 30-65; bad-tempered French Doctor and the eldest of Anne's suitors. The local physician and Mistresses Quickly's abusive employer, with a French accent that the Host rather bad-naturedly mocks at every opportunity. Also, the least suitable match for Anne. The role requires the ability to adopt an over-the-top 16th century stereotype French accent, and needs to be camped up so that it cannot be taken seriously.

Fenton - Male aged 18 - 24; young, kind, handsome and romantic love interest for Anne. Initially attracted by the prospect of Anne’s dowry but rejected by her parents, he falls in love and successfully woos her, eloping with her in the hope of getting married. This is not a large part, but is a good role for a young leading man.

Robert Shallow - Male aged 50 - 75; ageing Country Justice, and Uncle to Slender, determined to marry him off. A snob, and definitely a cut above most others, as he sees it, he is determined to pair off his nephew, Slender, and mention his social standing at any opportunity. A good comic role mocking social prejudices.

Abraham Slender - Male aged 18 - 24; young, timid, dim-witted and overly-sheltered suitor to Anne. Falls in love with Anne at first sight, but is unassertive, not so bright, and lives very much in his uncle's shadow. A good role calling for a nuanced approach in its portrayal of comic awkwardness.

Bardolph, Nym, and Pistol - Males aged 24 - 55; disreputable rogues with little loyalty to Falstaff, or each other.* Falstaff's servants and companions-in-crime, also featuring in the Henry IV plays; a roguish entourage who would be more sinister if they were not so incompetent. Pistol is the darkest character, while Bardolph is a better drinker than he is a thief. The roles call for a group comic dynamic, with strong physical comedy skills and will involve some improvisation in rehearsal.

Peter Simple - Male aged 18-24; young servant to Slender. Small but significant role, running errands for his master, Slender. Possibly even less of an intellect than he is.