Jerusalem - Reading and Audition Notice
Reading: Sunday 15th January 2017, 6.00 pm (Foyer, Hampton Hill Theatre)
Audition: Sunday 22nd January 2017, 6.00 pm (Coward Suite, Hampton Hill Theatre)
Performance Dates: Sunday 14th May - Saturday 20th May 2017 (Auditorium)
by Jez Butterworth
Director: John Buckingham
'Come you drunken spirits. Come, you battalions. You fields of ghosts who walk these green plains still. Come, you giants!'
Arriving in 2009, Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem played to critical acclaim, with awards and sell-outs in both the West End and later Broadway. The Guardian called it 'unarguably one of the finest plays of the twenty-first century.' It was seen as both a ‘state-of-the-nation’ drama and an elegiac lament for a mythic England. It was also one of the most side-splitting comedies to have graced the stage in years.
The play reworks the myth of St. George and the Dragon: charismatic local waster and drug-dealer, Johnny 'Rooster' Byron is a magnet to the local youth. He lives in a caravan on a green but not-so-pleasant site at the edge of an ancient Wiltshire forest. It’s St. George’s Day and the council plans to evict him, his son wants him to take him to the fair, the kids want his drugs and alcohol, and someone wants to give him a serious kicking.
Whereas much praise and attention in the original production focussed on Mark Rylance’s astonishing central performance as Rooster, the play is full of other wonderful characters, comprising a colourful cross section of county town misfits, jobsworths and eccentrics. These are all substantial acting roles, well-rounded, occasionally moving and extremely funny.
* The cast of fourteen (5f, 9m) covers a considerable age range, with lots of opportunities, especially for younger actors. The ages given here are those of the characters, not necessarily of the actors auditioning for them.
* Several characters are required to sing so, where appropriate, this will be an audition requirement. Musical director, James Bedbrook, stresses that this is folk music not operetta, and hopes actors will enjoy 'throwing themselves into the May Day folk tradition.'
* Note on dialect: Jerusalem employs Wiltshire dialect. For auditions, accents are encouraged but not required.
* Please be aware that the language in this play is extremely ‘strong’. Do not audition unless you are comfortable hearing and delivering such ‘colourful’ dialogue.
Phaedra (f - 15) Ethereal yet provocative and dressed in fairy wings, she is last year’s 'May Queen'. She sings two unaccompanied songs including the anthem Jerusalem, which prefaces the play. In the ‘real’ world, she is Troy Whitworth’s step-daughter and possibly a victim of his sexual abuse. As the play begins, she has disappeared, providing much speculation and enhancing the dramatic tension.
Linda Fawcett (f 30s - 60s) is Senior Community Liaison Officer for Kennet & Avon Council, charged with serving the eviction notice on Rooster, which she does with a world-weary efficiency, having seen it all before.
Luke Parsons (m 20s/30s) Linda’s junior assistant. Inexperienced and gauchely enthusiastic, he is a foil to her cynicism.
Johnny 'Rooster' Byron (m – about 50) is an opinionated eccentric ex-daredevil and teller of fantastically improbable stories. This is a physically, emotionally and intellectually demanding role, coupling the warm humour of a 21st century Falstaff with the dangerous power of a shaman.
Ginger (m - 30s/40s).Lanky and (ideally) red-haired, Ginger is Johnny’s funny chief acolyte. He is older and more cynical than the others who hang around the caravan, never having grown out of the lifestyle. He aspires to be a DJ, but is in fact an unemployed plasterer.
Professor (m - 60s/70s). A retired academic displaying early signs of dementia. Steeped in English folk-lore, his presence deepens the context of the drama and provides additional hilarity when he unwittingly takes LSD. Sings several unaccompanied folk songs.
Lee (m - teens/20s) One of Rooster’s fans, and best friends with Davey. Good-looking, spiritual and optimistic, he plans to emigrate to Australia the next day despite having little money to take with him. Sings in harmony with Davey.
Davey (m - teens/20s) is an abattoir worker, another Rooster follower and Lee’s best friend. He is earthy with a wicked sense of humour; the dark to Lee’s light. Unlike Lee, he could never leave Wiltshire. Sings in harmony with Lee and, ideally, plays the accordion.
Pea (f – teens). One of Rooster’s followers. As her name suggests, she’s physically small but with a big personality. Best friends with Tanya.
Tanya (f – teens) Another Rooster fan, she should be larger than her best friend, Pea, to make a striking physical contrast. She hopelessly fancies the departing Lee and sings for him at his farewell.
Wesley (m – about 50) is the local pub landlord and another of Rooster’s customers. He has been conned by the brewery into doing the Morris dancing for the St. George's Day festivities and feels a total idiot. He has known Rooster since childhood, and as the day progresses, he drunkenly yearns for his youth.
Dawn (f - 30s/40s) Rooster's ex-girlfriend and mother to his child, though she disapproves of his lifestyle. Having spent some time with him she relapses and kisses him, but there is no reconciliation.
Marky (m – 6 years old) Dawn and Rooster’s son. We’ll probably need two or more of these, suitably chaperoned.
Troy Whitworth (m - 30s/40s) A local thug. He’s the same age as Ginger and was once also a patron of ‘Rooster’s Wood’. He is Phaedra’s step-dad and her probable abuser. With her disappearance, his guilty malevolence turns to violence.
Frank and Danny Whitworth, Troy’s younger brothers appear silently for one brief violent incident in Act 3. We will probably accommodate these two through doubling.
If you have any questions, please get in touch.
Contact Details: To get in touch with the director before the Reading/Audition, please use the Contact page of this website and your message will be forwarded.
NOTE: We have an open casting policy: anyone can audition for our productions and, if cast, will then be required to join as a Full Member.