Saturday, July 18, 2015

Auditions: Twelfth Night and Message from Patti-Anne Ali, guest director for Twelfth Night

SiP 2015 Auditions


Twelfth Night


by William Shakespeare
directed by Patti-Anne Ali

Tuesday July 28 2015 6:30 PM
Dundas Main Stage, Mackey St.

Setting: Eleuthera, 1650


The present Governor of Eleuthera.  Besotted with Olivia, daughter of the previous Governor, his love is unrequited.  Handsome, charming, poetic, an aura of authority, obsessed with his emotions, more so than with the object of them, but he doesn’t realise it.  Very aware of how he feels, but not about who he is and why he feels them.  His heart says: ‘how do I feel now, how do I feel now, how do I feel now’

The courage to disguise herself as a servant boy (Cesario) in Orsino’s household, in the aftermath of a traumatic shipwreck in which she thinks she has lost everything including, her twin brother.  A survivor, she has an androgynous charm, sort of like Tilda Swinton.  As Cesario, she endears herself to Orsino with her wit and intelligence and is sent to woo Olivia on his behalf, but ends up becoming the object of Olivia’s affections.  Meanwhile, Viola has fallen in love with Orsino herself.  Oh what a tangled web we weave… A female actor able to convincingly be male, while still being a female sincerely in love with a male.  No matter the disguise and the chaos, her hearts steadily says ‘all for love’.

The wealthy daughter of the former Governor of Eleuthera, she is aristocratic and beautiful.  In mourning for her brother, she uses this as the reason to spurn Orsino’s advances, but she then rapidly falls in love with Cesario (as played by Viola), which suggests a mercurial nature.  Appearance is very important to Olivia, she makes no apologies for having a mind of her own and following her heart.  Like Orsino, her heart says: ‘how do I feel now, how do I feel now, how do I feel now’.

Viola’s twin brother who has survived the shipwreck due to Antonia, the older female pirate captain, who has also befriended him.  He is mistaken for Cesario when he meets Olivia and Olivia entreats him into an immediate marriage.  What kind of man solicits such instantaneous passion in a woman, inspiring one to risk her life to save him and the other to want to marry him?  A dynamic presence, particularly attractive to women.  Careful not to cross the unattractive line of ‘the kept man’ but dangerously close to it.  An actor able to maintain a skilful balance somewhere in the middle.  His heart says ‘Come closer female heart…’

The female pirate Captain (think Ann Bonny) who rescues Sebastian from watery death.  This character is male in the original script.  In making Antonio, the sea-captain, Antonia , the female pirate, we get to explore the dynamics between Sebastian and an older, powerful female character.  An athletic, older actor, able to convey both the authority of a powerful female and the vulnerability of a woman in love and ready to risk everything.  Her heart says ‘risk everything’ 

‘Sir’ Toby Belch:      
Olivia's alcoholic, womanising uncle who lives with her and who considers himself to be one of her suitors.  Like Falstaff, he is an extremely likable leader and instigator of ‘common’ behaviour with the rest of the group that is comprised of Maria, the head servant, Fabienne, a maid and Andrew Aguecheek, a dandy.  A ‘larger than life’ actor, able to do a convincing drunk with excellent comic timing and an aptitude for physical comedy.  The depth of cruelty inherent in the various plottings, reflect less a fun and harmless prankster and more a deliberate pursuer of chaos and even vengeance.  A comic actor with dramatic depth, able to amuse and disturb simultaneously.  His heart says ‘another rounds, and it’s on you’

Andrew Aguecheek:          
A wealthy and gullible dandy Landowner hoping to capture Olivia’s hand.  Perhaps, a skinny physicality in contrast to Sir Toby’s rotund presence.  He is being fleeced by Sir Toby, which is why he is being encouraged in his wooing.  What makes someone so na├»ve?  An interesting study of a personality that allows itself to be subsumed by larger personalities, but then bursts forth with its own repressed emotions. His heart says ‘follow the leader, and it’s not me.’

Olivia’s head servant, Maria is the female counterpart to Sir Toby Belch.  Like most stock female servant characters, Maria is feisty, funny and rebellious.  Her connection to Sir Toby is profound and there is opportunity for non-verbal as well as verbal exploration of that intensity.  It is her idea to write the letter that initiates the terrible tricking of Malvolio, reflecting a sharp wit and repressed anger.  An actor, able to do the stereotypical humorous servant and then blast that out of existence with a genuine, emotional journey of the heart.  Her heart says ‘let’s laugh about this, my heart is in hiding, see me, see me’

Originally Fabian, a male character in service in Olivia’s household and a friend of Sir Toby’s, this character is now a female maid in the household.  Fabienne, plots and even instigates much of the mischief.  An impulsive and energetic character, she clearly has a grudge against Malvolio that she is intent on playing out.  An actor with excellent comic timing, able to explore and then project the character’s unique personality, into the dynamics of a comic ensemble.

Very much the man of the house in the sense that he is Olivia’s head steward, Malvolio is a delicious paradox of Puritanical actions and lustful thinking.  Representing the Puritanical way of life in the original script, we have made Malvolio an actual Puritan living in Eleuthera in 1650.  Malvolio wages war with Sir Toby and his gang from the beginning, condemning their behaviour which includes Sir Toby’s drinking and their revelling.  He lusts after Olivia and falls victim to a terrible trick played on him by Sir Toby and his gang.  The victimisation of Malvolio is extreme in its verbal and emotional cruelty, striking an unexpected chord in the comedy.  It is essential that the actor be open to exploring this complex character and committing to wherever the journey authentically takes him.  His heart says ‘I secretly desire what I outwardly condemn, and it is a constant struggle, but let no one know this, only my way, is the right way.’

The clown or jester in the employ of Olivia, Feste is there for entertainment.  Ironically enough, Feste is often the only character speaking wisdom and insight.  Feste, the theatrical device, operates almost like a Chorus at times – summarising the action with pithy wisdom and indicating the next possible course of events with witticism. Feste, the character… ah, that is another story.  There is a strange sadness around this clown, as there is with most Clowns – think of Robin Williams – that genius frenetic hilarity, often underscored by an undercurrent of despair.  It is in the eyes.  Able to carry a tune with emotion.  Open to casting either a male or female actor.  His/her heart says ….

These actors are an essential part of this ensemble and must have a desire to explore each of these different characters fully and embody each one as needed.

First Officer/Valentine:
A fit actor, able to convey military presence when playing the soldier and also able to play Valentine, Orsino’s head steward.  Valentine, serves his master with loyalty.

Second Officer/Priest:
The Priest strikes a note of authority and his clerical presence must be credible.  An actor able to do this, as well as play a fit military man when needed.

Third Officer/Captain:
Captain who aids Viola in her escape from the shipwreck and tells her about Governor Orsino and Olivia.  A kindly sea-dog, fatherly and strong.  Able to also play an older Soldier.

Message from Patti-Anne Ali
guest director for Twelfth Night

I am thrilled to return to The Bahamas to participate in SIP 2015 and to work with another wonderfully talented Bahamian cast and crew.  Here are some guidelines for the Twelfth Night auditions.

HAVE FUN!  This is one of the most hilarious, thought provoking plays ever written.  It has been performed all over the world for centuries and you could be a part of that evolution and of the evolution of theatre in The Bahamas.  That is quite an amazing opportunity.  Passion and willingness are just as desirable, as experience and qualifications.  Bring it all to the table.
Become familiar with the basic storyline.  Here's a good synopsis of Twelfth Night, and there are many others online:  

Do not let the language intimidate you.  This useful resource can help:

No Fear Shakespeare by SparkNotes features the complete edition of Twelfth Night side-by-side with an accessible, plain English translation.

Feel free to check out different productions to get a feel for the language and the piece as a whole (there are several on youtube).  Here's a good one: Twelfth Night (1969)
We will be sending around Character Breakdowns in the next day or so. Read them so you understand this version of Twelfth Night, and the uniqueness of your particular character, in the context of this production

Download both the audition sides and the call back sides, as you may be asked to do both on the same day, or you may be called back subsequently.  Either way, familiarise yourself thoroughly with both, and walk with the print outs on the day.

Go for it!

"Be not afraid of greatness.  Some are born great, some achieve greatness and others have greatness thrust upon 'em."

William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

More about Patti-Anne Ali