Auditions: The Habit of Art

Auditions: The Habit of Art

Auditions for Alan Bennett’s The Habit of Art will be held at the Old Mill Theatre from 2pm-5pm, Saturday, February 6. Callback will be held 2pm-5pm Saturday, February 13. Rehearsals will be concentrated in March with the season running April 8-23. For ALL enquiries, contact director Tony Howes on kathowen@bigpond.net.au.

Synopsis: Actors are rehearsing a play called Caliban”s Day at the Royal National Theatre and Benjamin Britten, sailing uncomfortably close to the wind with his new opera Death in Venice, seeks advice from his former collaborator and friend WH Auden. During this imagined meeting in 1973, their first for 25 years, they are observed and interrupted by, among others, their future biographer and a young man from the local bus station.

Alan Bennett”s play is as much about theatre as it is about poetry or music. It looks at the unsettling desires of two difficult men and the ethics of biography. It reflects on growing old, creativity and inspiration and on persisting when all passion”s spent: ultimately, on the habit of art.

Cast required: Ages given are indications only. The ability to appear to be those ages is the only criterion.  The accents throughout should be “educated English” but definitely not upper-class aristocratic. Stuart may have a slight Cockney/southern London accent.

  • Fitz (plays WH Auden in the play-within-the-play): a physical resemblance to WH Auden is not required – just an actor who might be believed to be 60 or thereabouts. He needs to be able to play the “real actor” and the “play character” so we understand the difference.
  • Henry (who plays Benjamin Britten): no physical resemblance needed. To be played as if in his 50s – a sensitive type.
  • Donald (who plays Humphrey Carpenter): The “actor” is nervous and insecure; the “character” he plays is intelligent and forthright.
  • Tim (who plays Stuart): a young actor (20s) with an obviously good physique and confident manner.
  • Author (Neil): any age. Frustrated by the interference in his writing Energetic.
  • Kay: the stage manager in the play. 50s/60s. Strong, phlegmatic, personable.
  • Charlie: a young boy soprano (act one).
  • George/Georgina: assistant stage manager. A 20s male in the original but could be female.
  • Joan: boy soprano’s chaperone. Matronly, mall role.
  • Matt/Matty: does sound for the play. A 20s male or female (as for George). Small role.
  • Tom/Thomasina: rehearsal pianist. Plays the music on keyboard.
  • Ralph: dresser. Small role (possibly one of the crew).
  • Brian: walk-on only (possibly one of the crew).

About the director: Perth-born Tony Howes has directed several Alan Bennett plays in Australia including Forty Years On, The Madness of George III and The History Boys.  He holds the Pen International Salute for direction, Advance Australia Award for the Arts, Centenary Medal for Theatre and Freedom of the City of London (for youth and the arts in Britain and Australia).  For many years, he directed for the ABC in radio and television and founded the Midnite Youth Theatre Company where he was artistic director for 25 years. His productions have been seen in Australia, the UK, Canada, Singapore, Brunei, Vietnam and Thailand.

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