Anna Karenina by Helen Edmundson based on the novel by Leo Tolstoy
29th November to 3rd December 2011
Cast size/Characters (names and ages):
4-5 M/4-5 F (there is some scope for flexibility in how the different roles are combined; below is a suggestion)
Anna – 20s/30s
Princess Betsy, Agatha – age can be flexible
Dolly/Countess Vronsky/Stiva’s flusie – age can be flexible
Kitty/Seriozha – 20-30s (Kitty is 20s; Seriozha is a young boy – Anna’s son).
Governess, Railway Widow – age can be flexible
Konstantin Levin – 20s/30s/40s (age can be fairly flexible)
Vronsky/Nikolai – 20s/30s/40s
Karenin/Priest – 30s/40s (age can be fairly flexible, but probably a little older than Anna, Levin and Vronsky)
Stiva/Bailiff - 30s/40s
Muffled Figure 1/Petritsky – age can be flexible
Peasants/Muffled Figures/Aristocrats – Played by Members of the Company
Based on Leo Tolstoy’s story of an adulterous affair between the wife of a St Petersburg bureaucrat and a Cavalry officer, this stage version pares the plot down to its essentials. It focuses on the contrasting experiences of Anna, the doomed heroine, and Konstantin Levin, the questing male conscience of the piece. Anna, tormented by jealousy, ostracised by society and forcibly estranged from her son, is unable to live and love freely and throws herself under a train in her despair; Levin, troubled by his own sexual appetite and horrified by the prospect of death, eventually learns to accept the realities of life, helped by the example of his practical wife. In the play, Anna and Levin are constantly present – maintaining an abstract dialogue with each other as their parallel stories unfold. Events of the plot are juxtaposed and intertwine.
We need fearless performers who are in it for the long haul and willing to try and fail and try again.
The piece demands real “teamwork” and imagination from the ensemble; actors taking more than one role will need to play various “types” in terms of personality, status, and age. They will also “create” features of the setting – eg the railway stations, the racecourse, even the train which kills Anna.
Several characters kiss and there are some scenes of a sexual nature, so actors need to be prepared for physical intimacy, though there will be no nudity.
Equally alarmingly for some… There will be some dancing and singing involved! The dancing is limited – one ball scene with a waltz and one sequence which might better be described as “stylised movement”. The ensemble will also sing a folk song – which is intended to sound rough and ready!
We’re aiming for abstract and “suggestive” sets, props, and costumes – using a simple “contemporary” style – rather than period furniture, gowns and uniforms. The focus should be on the actors’ performances, and especially on the intense dialogue between Anna and Levin, so we’ll be avoiding “historical” clutter – though we’re hoping to find ingenious ways of alluding to the late 19th century setting of the novel.
Female Transportby Steve Gooch
22nd to 26th November 2011
Winnie – 30s. Strong leader
Madge – Late 30s+. Oldest member of the group. Mother figure.
Nance – 20s/30s. Fiery troublemaker.
Pitty – 18 – 20. Vulnerable.
Sarah – 20s. Approachable but has a bit of a bite to her.
Charlotte – 20s/30s. Strong willed.
Tommy – 18 – early 20s. Shy & naive.
Sarge – 30s+. Vile bully.
Surgeon – late 20s+. Intelligent & shallow.
Captain – 20s+. Selfish.
This stark drama is an account of six women convicted of petty crimes in 19th century London and sentenced to be transported to a life of hard labour in Britain’s overseas penal colony in Australia. During their six-month voyage they are kept in a cramped cell below deck where the women gradually learn certain truths about society and themselves.
This is a fantastic ensemble piece with strong character work. Actors can really get their teeth into the parts and help each other develop relationships on the stage.
There are some restrictions within the casting though as I’d be looking for actors and actresses with English regional accents. The way the play is written, and the period in which it is set, these are characters who pick up on all sorts of flaws and traits to mock and ridicule others. There is no mention about accents.
There will be some singing needed by the girls, but you won’t need to be pitch perfect! There are also some fight scenes and physically demanding scenarios. There will also be a bit of kissing – but not between the female characters!
The stage with be fairly sparse and most of the actress will have to be on stage for the length of the play. The costumes and props will be close to period but not too much so that audience is distracted from the acting.
For the music, I’m looking for someone who can help me create a tune from scratch but also record a variety of versions of the song ‘Botany Bay’.
Talking Heads by Alan Bennett
6th to 10th December 2011
Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads offer a wonderful opportunity for four actors to take control of the stage, engage one to one with the audience and create some of the best loved characters written for the stage.
Bennett is a true master of the monologue and with his help you will have the audience laughing and crying, often at the same time!
The pieces are to be presented in repertory, with the first pair performed on Tuesday and Thursday, the second pair on Wednesday and Friday with a final marathon performance of all four on the Saturday evening.
F 3, M 1
Graham – A mild middle-aged man
Susan – An early middle-aged vicar’s wife
Irene Ruddock – An ordinary middle-aged woman
Lesley – In her early thirties
A Chip in the Sugar
Graham, a middle-aged bachelor, emotionally retarded and chronically dependent on his mother, finds life difficult enough at the best of times. When Mother meets an old flame and seems set to marry him, however, Graham’s old insecurities rear their ugly heads again. Fate, eventually, rescues Graham and he resumes his normal life of banal muddle under his mother’s amnesiac tyranny.
Bed Among the Lentils
Susan is a failure when it comes to jam-making and flower-arranging and isn’t at all sure about God; how unfortunate for her that she is married to Geoffrey, a popular and respected vicar who treats her in an intensely patronizing manner and expects her to conform to her role as vicar’s wife. A bleakly hilarious, dark and painful monologue, packed with insights and sparkling satire.
A Lady of Letters
Miss Ruddock writes letters — not, unfortunately, social communications filled with harmless news, but letters of complaint, comment and, occasionally, officious praise to various businesses and government departments. She complains about the lack of care she assumes the child living opposite is receiving and ends up in prison. There, ironically, Miss Ruddock finds freedom and is, for possibly the first time, happy.
Her Big Chance
Meet Lesley, an actress. She has just completed a video (‘targeted chiefly on West Germany’) in which she plays Travis, a career girl who enjoys life, spends a remarkable amount of time topless and shoots a man with a harpoon gun. She tells all, blind to the sinister undertones of her story as well as to her own self-delusions and gullibility.