Announcing open auditions for William Shakespeare’s TWELFTH NIGHT.
When: Monday, January 2nd and Tuesday, January 3rd at 7pm, possible callbacks on Wednesday, January 4th if needed.
Where: Playhouse South, 3750 Far Hills Avenue
The Setting: Shakespeare’s TWELFTH NIGHT, also known as What You Will, is a comedy which centers on mistaken identity, love, and gender roles. We will be exploring these themes in the Victorian Steampunk Era, which contemporizes the show, while allowing the characters’ struggles to remain relevant.
The Plot: In Illyria, Duke Orsino is sick with love with Lady Olivia, who is in mourning for her recently deceased father and brother. To honour their memory, she has sworn to live like a nun for seven years and refuses to receive any messages from Orsino.
Twins Viola and Sebastian are separated by a shipwreck at sea and each believes the other to be dead. Viola disguises herself as a man and secures a position as Orsino’s page. After gaining his trust, she is asked to court Olivia on his behalf, and agrees even though she has fallen in love with him herself.
Olivia soon falls for the mysterious and smooth talking Viola, still disguised as Orsino’s page, Cesario, thus completing the complex love triangle. To complicate things futher, Olivia’s lady-in-waiting Maria, Olivia’s uncle Sir Toby Belch, and his friend Sir Andrew conspire to make her haughty steward, Malvolio, believe that Olivia is in love with him.
The Character Breakdown:
- Viola (20 – 35, F) – A young woman of aristocratic birth, and the play’s protagonist. Washed up on the shore of Illyria when her ship is wrecked in a storm, Viola decides to make her own way in the world. She disguises herself as a young man, calling herself “Cesario,” and becomes a page to Duke Orsino. She ends up falling in love with Orsino—even as Olivia, the woman Orsino is courting, falls in love with Cesario. Thus, Viola finds that her clever disguise has entrapped her: she cannot tell Orsino that she loves him, and she cannot tell Olivia why she, as Cesario, cannot love her. Her poignant plight is the central conflict in the play.
- Orsino (25 – 50, M) – A powerful nobleman in the country of Illyria. Orsino is lovesick for the beautiful Lady Olivia, but becomes more and more fond of his handsome new page boy, Cesario, who is actually a woman—Viola. Orsino is a vehicle through which the play explores the absurdity of love: a supreme egotist, Orsino mopes around complaining how heartsick he is over Olivia, when it is clear that he is chiefly in love with the idea of being in love and enjoys making a spectacle of himself. His attraction to the ostensibly male Cesario injects sexual ambiguity into his character.
- Olivia (20 – 35, F) – A wealthy, beautiful, and noble Illyrian lady, Olivia is courted by Orsino and Sir Andrew Aguecheek, but to each of them she insists that she is in mourning for her brother, who has recently died, and will not marry for seven years. She and Orsino are similar characters in that each seems to enjoy wallowing in his or her own misery. Viola’s arrival in the masculine guise of Cesario enables Olivia to break free of her self-indulgent melancholy. Olivia seems to have no difficulty transferring her affections from one love interest to the next, however, suggesting that her romantic feelings—like most emotions in the play—do not run deep.
- Sebastian (20-35, M) – Viola’s lost twin brother. When he arrives in Illyria, traveling with Antonio, his close friend and protector, Sebastian discovers that many people think that they know him. Furthermore, the beautiful Lady Olivia, whom he has never met, wants to marry him. Sebastian is not as well rounded a character as his sister. He seems to exist to take on the role that Viola fills while disguised as Cesario—namely, the mate for Olivia.
- Malvolio (30 – 55, M) – The straitlaced steward—or head servant—in the household of Lady Olivia. Malvolio is very efficient but also very self-righteous, and he has a poor opinion of drinking, singing, and fun. His priggishness and haughty attitude earn him the enmity of Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, and Maria, who play a cruel trick on him, making him believe that Olivia is in love with him. In his fantasies about marrying his mistress, he reveals a powerful ambition to rise above his social class.
- Feste (20 – 55, M*/F) – The clown, or fool, of Olivia’s household, Feste moves between Olivia’s and Orsino’s homes. He earns his living by making pointed jokes, singing old songs, being generally witty, and offering good advice cloaked under a layer of foolishness. In spite of being a professional fool, Feste often seems the wisest character in the play.
- Sir Toby (35 – 55, M*/F) – Olivia’s uncle. Olivia lets Sir Toby Belch live with her, but she does not approve of his rowdy behavior, practical jokes, heavy drinking, late-night carousing, or friends (specifically the idiotic Sir Andrew). Sir Toby also earns the ire of Malvolio. But Sir Toby has an ally, and eventually a mate, in Olivia’s sharp-witted waiting-gentlewoman, Maria. Together they bring about the triumph of chaotic spirit, which Sir Toby embodies, and the ruin of the controlling, self-righteous Malvolio.
- Maria (20 – 40, F) – Olivia’s clever, daring young waiting-gentlewoman. Maria is remarkably similar to her antagonist, Malvolio, who harbors aspirations of rising in the world through marriage. But Maria succeeds where Malvolio fails—perhaps because she is a woman, but, more likely, because she is more in tune than Malvolio with the anarchic, topsy-turvy spirit that animates the play.
- Sir Andrew Aguecheek (25 – 45, M) – A friend of Sir Toby’s. Sir Andrew Aguecheek attempts to court Olivia, but he doesn’t stand a chance. He thinks that he is witty, brave, young, and good at languages and dancing, but he is actually an idiot.
- Antonio (25 – 50, M) – A man who rescues Sebastian after his shipwreck. Antonio becomes very fond of Sebastian, caring for him, accompanying him to Illyria, and furnishing him with money—all because of a love so strong that it seems to be romantic in nature. Antonio’s attraction to Sebastian, however, never bears fruit.
- Sea Captain (30 – 55, M/F*) – The captain of the ship that Viola and Sebastian were traveling on. Saw Sebastian tie himself to a mast, and so offers Viola some hope that he may still be alive. Tells Viola of Illyria, Orsino and his love for Olivia. Accepts to help Viola disguise herself as a man and to present her to the Duke, and keeps her women’s clothes in custody.
- Curio (20 – 55, M*/F) – One of Orsino’s attendants. Was sent to Olivia as a messenger of love, but was not allowed to speak to her. Seeks to distract Orsino by taking him to hunt, but Orsino refuses. Brings back the news that she has pledged to mourn a full seven years for her brother. Also advises Cesario (Viola) that he (she) is in a good position, and that Orsino’s favors are not inconstant. Knows Feste, and is sent to find him/her so that he/she can sing a song Orsino particularly desires to hear.
- Fabian (20 – 55, M*/F) – A member of Olivia’s household who has lost that lady’s favor due to Malvolio’s telling her about a bear-baiting Fabian was involved with. For revenge, he/she joins in the plot to make a fool of the steward. Also helps Sir Toby keep control of Sir Andrew. Apparently a natural prankster, he/she helps to set up the duel between Andrew and Cesario, building up the latter’s fear of Sir Andrew. Feste does not appear to consider him/her trustworthy, refusing to let him/her see the letter Malvolio sends to Olivia from his prison. Having later read the letter aloud to Olivia and all the others, Fabian quickly confesses the whole plot, in the hope that with everyone being so happy and about to be married, they won’t be too hard on the plotters, and take it all as a good joke.
- Priest (35 – 65, M*/F) – Fetched by Olivia to marry her to her young man in secret. Called forth as a witness, he/she testifies that he/she has married Olivia to the young man standing by Orsino’s side.
- First Officer (30 – 55, M/F*) – Police Officer that recognizes Antonio from the sea-fight, and arrests him. Has no interest in Antonio’s quarrel with Viola.
- Second Officer (20 – 35, M*/F) – Police Officer that does not actually know Antonio, but arrests him. Has no interest in Antonio’s quarrel with Viola.
- Olivia’s Servant (20 – 55, M/F*) – A servant that is not part of the cabal of upper servants who mock Malvolio. Simply does his/her job, unaffected by the madness that seems to have taken over the house.
Please note: Ages are suggested – if you can portray an age that is out of your own, feel free to audition for those roles.
The Other Pertinent Information: Playhouse South’s production of TWELFTH NIGHT is directed by Sara Bortz, with Assistant Director Crystal Kushmaul.
There will be sonnet readings as an introduction to Shakespearean verse, as well as cold readings from the script. There are also a few characters that will sing, so you may be asked to sing Happy Birthday. Please be sure to bring all conflicts from January 9th through March 12th, including weekends. First read through will be January 9th.
Show dates will be March 3-5 and 10-12 at Playhouse South Theatre. Contact Sara Bortz with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.