Audition Notice: The Dresser by Ronald Harwood
Season 3, July 3rd – 18th
1942, a theatre in the English provinces. Sir, the last of the great, but dying, breed of English actor-managers, is in a very bad way tonight. As his dresser tries valiantly to prepare him to go on stage as King Lear, Sir is having great difficulty remembering who and where he is, let alone Lear’s lines. With a Herculean effort on the part of Norman, the dresser, Sir does finally make it on stage, and through the performance.
Sir is the lead actor and manager of a regional touring theatre company who has spent his life performing Shakespeare. One fateful night in a small regional theatre during World War II as the troupe prepares for his 227th performance of King Lear, Sir is taken ill. As bombs fall and sirens wail Sir cannot remember his lines or even the play they are about to perform. His manic struggle to get ready for the stage gives him cause to reflect as he seeks to reconcile his relationships with those closest to him before the final curtain falls.
Norman is Sir’s dresser, protector and confidant. A former play-as-cast actor, he was plucked from the wings by Sir, and has since spent his career solely in his service. He exults in his status as the man closest to Sir, which strains his relationship with the others in the company. When Sir is taken ill, it is Norman who steps into the breach to lead the company, and strives to get him on stage. He has given his life to Sir, a debt that can possibly never be repaid.
Her Ladyship (45+)
Her Ladyship is Sir’s partner and a fellow member of the troupe, playing Cordelia in their production of King Lear. When Sir is taken ill, Her Ladyship’s appeals for him to retire cause a fissure between them that exposes years of regret, resentment and hurt that have been glossed over.
Madge is the Stage Manager for the company. Her cold, business-like demeanour belies a longstanding, unrequited love and devotion to Sir. More alike than they probably understand, Madge and Norman find themselves at odds, both suffering the truth of their feelings for Sir in silence.
Irene is an ambitious young actress in the company with a burning passion for the stage. Her determination to become the leading lady, and her infatuation with Sir, threatens to undermine Norman’s efforts to keep the company in order. He tries to hide Sir’s growing reciprocation of her attentions from Her Ladyship and Madge.
Thornton (Geoffrey) (50+)
Geoffrey Thornton is an older actor within the troupe who’s called upon to stand in as the part of the Fool, keen to use the opportunity to impress Sir. He is in many ways Sir without the title – also a stand in for those who make acting their life’s work, but never reach the heights of fame or notoriety.
A frustrated amateur playwright, who takes the part of Edmund in King Lear. Moody and antagonistic, he has avoided conscription in the war due to a disability. Over the course of the evening, his sullen outlook and disdain for his fellow cast members momentarily lifts.
Ensemble roles in King Lear (25+)
An information session will be held at Melville theatre from 1pm-3pm on the 7th of March, with auditions also at the theatre on the 21st and 22nd. For additional information, or to request an audition time, contact the director, Jacob Turner, at firstname.lastname@example.org