The Actress by Peter Quilter
[ season September 13th to 28th ]
Audition Sunday June 16th
Lydia auditions by appointment from 12:45
Supporting roles at approximately 1:30
For audition pieces and more information,
please email the director Helen Maden: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Actress dramatises the events backstage as a colourful, complicated actress makes her emotional farewell performance. Various people from her life invade her dressing room to say their goodbyes, declare their love, roar with laughter, spit insults, grab a final embrace, renew old battles and steal a final memento.
Lydia Martin: The Actress: (late 50’s to 70’s) Please note, this role requires an actor who can commit to a substantial part. Lydia captures the essence of the prima donna trying to mask her inner vulnerabilities. She’s played this theatre many times. Her name is big in the theatre world. She’s the Queen Bee. Jostling with both imminent ageing and failing looks, Lydia fluctuates between sarcastic, emotional, angry, concerned, amorous and unsure. She’s almost eloping the next day to Switzerland with unsuitable banker, Charles. From Dressing Room to the stage, Lydia appears as “Lubov Ranevskaya” from “The Cherry Orchard” in two short scenes. This is a large female lead role. Lydia is on stage the whole play and delivers many of the lines including monologues.
Katherine: (from around 35) The Dresser. She is all knowing and understanding. Practical. She accepts with professionalism that Dressers can be treated like dirt by the Divas. But the Dresser is devoted. The Dresser is always there. She is a confidante. She knows how to calm the beast. She knows the secrets – but what happens in the dressing room, stays in the dressing room. She is naturally warm and likeable.
Paul: (Age to suit Lydia) The ex-husband. Rather like the wicked fairy in Sleeping Beauty, he’s an unwelcome guest. Lydia’s lecherous but still devoted, ex-husband (and Father to Nicole). The couple still each have a strong sexual vibrancy. A love/hate relationship. He’s handsome and debonair. Relaxed and self assured. The actor playing Paul, doubles as the brother Gaev, in two short scenes from “The Cherry Orchard”.
Charles: (Quite a bit older than Lydia) The fiancé! Charles is Swiss and made his money in Banking – he’s loaded and very much in love with, and devoted to, Lydia. He doesn’t understand the whole theatre business. He just wants to sweep her away to an agreed new life together in beautiful Switzerland immediately. All sparkling water, clean streets, fresh air and perhaps boredom? He spends much of his night trying to scale the stairs from the theatre to dressing room, arriving totally out of breath and in need of an oxygen mask. The person playing Charles, doubles as ‘Lopakhin”, the merchant from “The Cherry Orchard”.
Nicole: (20’s to 30’s) Lydia’s daughter. Dry witted. Long ago accepted (or come to terms with) – the fact, that Lydia spent way too much time at the theatre when she was growing up. In Nicole’s mind, there seems no doubt this impinged her ability to be a good mother. In the battle between daughter and career, it would seem Lydia’s career took first place. Nicole has her own mind. She’s come to terms with the Status Quo. Although there are walls between them, we see they do manage a relationship of sorts. Nicole brings moments of sanity to the dressing room.
Harriet, Lydia’s agent (from around 35): Harriet has been Lydia’s agent for many years. Lydia is really the only ‘star’ on her books and the only reason she even has a career as an agent. She babbles an agent’s admiration at first, but dissolves into a drunken self-centred end, bemoaning what will become of her now she can no longer collect Lydia’s ten percent.
Margaret, the theatre manager (from around 35): Good sense of comic timing! It’s a huge night at the theatre. The foyer is full of actors and VIPs. Margaret is on edge and trying to make sure everything goes well. Determined not to be overawed by Lydia’s fame, Margaret – also the director’s assistant, is vindictive and rather angry at Lydia’s refusal to even read the Director’s Notes . Lydia says to her… “you have a special talent. You can suck all the joy and energy out of a room in a matter of seconds”! That says it all!
Notes about the play:
The play will be set in Australia in the glamorous era of the 1930’s. Well spoken Australian Accents (especially for The Actress, her daughter Nicole and Paul). Think Ruth Cracknell, Noni Hazelhurst, Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush. For other female roles, other accents could be acceptable. Charles is from Switzerland. This accent would be much preferred, but the role could cater for a well spoken Australian accent. In their roles in the Cherry Orchard, actors will use refined version of Australian accent or perhaps a little British. (Author has agreed, not to use Russian accents)! Actors do not need to memorise the audition dialogue, however it is expected that a very good familiarity of the pieces will be evident.