Tag Archives: auditions

Female playwrights, Female parts and casting into deep waters

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I’ve spent the past two days holed up at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff, holding auditions for my Unlimited Commission ‘Cosy’. Joined by stalwart companion director Phillip Zarrilli, our most consistent subject of conversation has been the wealth of talent parading in through the door: Women actors, female performers, actresses, whatever it is they may prefer to be called, the diverse array of skill, facility and emotional intelligence has been glittering and humbling, leaving us with the impossible next task of selecting the cast for the r&d process.

‘Cosy’ is a dark comedy with six characters, all women, disabled and non-disabled, playing ages 16 to 76 years. This fact alone elicited a few cheers and several full body hugs, female actors embracing the female playwright who for many years has made a commitment to writing roles right across the age range. This was a decision I made in my early twenties, when as a jobbing actor I started writing my own audition pieces as I was fed-up of the limited fayre. The theatrical landscape before me looked thin and uninspiring. It seemed after being the ingenue and playing Juliet, there might be Lady M in the Scottish play (I’m Irish, I’m superstitious, I can’t help it), and then the oasis of nothingness until sexless old haughty Lady Bracknell. I decided then to write meaty parts for women of all ages, and ‘Cosy’ is the latest manifestation of this commitment.

I think this is a serious subject – the representation of gender (and impairment) in plays and also the corresponding dearth of women playwrights being produced. We are still underrepresented – still considered either domestic or ‘risky’ (see this article about Hytner and The National Theatre in London and why women playwrights are still marginalised). This is another reason why I celebrate Unlimited and the funding bodies, venues, and organisations supporting this initiative. If women actors have a limited spread of roles and opportunities (hence the penchant for all female Shakespeare productions recently), and female playwrights still are marginalised (see this Guardian  blog about gender inequality in the theatre) what hope then for disabled or Deaf playwrights, makers, dancers, choreographers, and practitioners?

I’m sure this is a subject I will return to.

In a previous post, Casting Haiku on my parallel http://www.cosytheplay.co.uk blog, I wrote of the process of creating pithy character descriptions for agents and performers to get a glimmer of the role they were being considered for. Little did I know in that innocence of a few days ago how my interpretation of these characters would be changed – and for the better.

As a playwright, I have lived with the voices of my characters in my head for quite some time. These voices all speak with different syntax, rhythm, vocabulary and world views from each other, but the ‘acting’ is one and the same – my own inner ‘voice’. Imagine then the delight, the absolute GIFT of sitting as a steady stream of engaged, passionate, talented actors passed through, revealing a spectrum of surprising and different interpretations of these characters I thought I knew so well… These talented women showed me perspectives and possibilities I had never imagined and  I am extremely thankful to all who brought those characters off the page, out of my head, and into life.

Phillip and I now have the slow and difficult deliberation of making a credible ‘family’ cast  from the actors we saw…. Mother, siblings, niece/grand-daughter, plus the matriarch’s quirky friend. There are so many different permeations – all could work – they just lead to very different styles and takes on the script. We are currently locked in this delicious but frustrating wrestle. We may be some time.

Deaf and disabled actors wanted – RSC and National Theatre general auditions

Those who know my work within disability arts and Deaf culture, or have been following this blog for some time, will know my position on casting and the (mis)representations of disability on stage.

https://kaiteoreilly.wordpress.com/2011/11/08/cripping-up-is-the-twenty-first-century-answer-to-blacking-up-peeling-and-the-d-monologues/

https://kaiteoreilly.wordpress.com/2012/08/30/theatre-has-to-get-to-get-over-itself-and-put-crips-in-its-scripts-guardian-comment-is-free/

Cast of 'In Water I'm Weightless' by O'Reilly, National Theatre Wales/Southbank Centre 2012, part of the Cultural Olympiad

Cast of ‘In Water I’m Weightless’ by O’Reilly, National Theatre Wales/Southbank Centre 2012, part of the Cultural Olympiad

I’ve posted up various provocations about ‘cripping up’ (non-disabled actors impersonating various physical and sensory impairments) and the necessity of playwrights to, as Lisa Hammond put it, ‘put crips in scripts.’ Now my heart sings (or I’m at least encouraged) to see the National theatre in London giving out a call for disabled and Deaf actors for general auditions in January 2014.

http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/discover-more/welcome-to-the-national-theatre/about-the-national-theatre/studio/deaf-and-disabled

Time will tell if this is lip service, but meanwhile…. the deadline for application approached on Monday 2nd December 2013…..  So what are you waiting for? Go apply!

Deaf and Disabled Actors – General Theatre Auditions 2014

The National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company in association with a number of freelance Casting Directors from across the field of theatre are opening applications for general auditions with Deaf and Disabled actors in January 2014.

Applicants should be professional actors identifying as Deaf or Disabled, who have either undertaken vocational training, or have undertaken paid stage work in the business.

Successful applicants will have the opportunity to perform a monologue or duologue from a modern or classical play of their choosing in front of a range of theatre casting directors, and to attend a Q&A with a panel of theatre industry professionals.

Application deadline: Monday 2nd December
Successful applicants will be informed during the week of 16th December
Auditions will take place on Monday 6th January (10am-8pm) and Tuesday 7th January (10am-6pm) in Central London (please specify any non-availability over these two days in your application form)
Q&A: Tuesday 7th January 6.30pm – 8pm

How to Apply

Download the application form from their website (link, above)

Email your completed application form, acting CV and headshot to rscntauditions@gmail.com by Monday 2nd December
Postal applications should be addressed to RSC NT Auditions, Casting Department, National Theatre, London SE1 9PX
For applicants without email access please contact Charlotte on 020 7452 3448

The National Theatre Studio is fully accessible, however please inform us of any additional requirements you may have on the day on your application form.

If you have any queries please contact Charlotte on 020 7452 3448

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