Reading and Audition Notice - My Boy Jack

Reading and Audition Notice – My Boy Jack

 

Reading:    Sunday 6th April, 6.00 pm (Foyer, Hampton Hill Playhouse)

Audition:   Sunday 13th April, 6.00 pm (Coward Studio, Hampton Hill Playhouse)

Performance Dates:  Sunday 29th June - Saturday 5th July 2014 (Auditorium)

 

Co-directors

Wesley Henderson Roe & Jennifer Laney

Both these directors have a wealth of experience in amateur theatre and have been duly acknowledged by their peers for their achievements in this field. 

Both have Swan award winning productions to their credit.

 

The piece

My Boy Jack is the 1997 play written by David Haig and first performed at the Theatre Royal Nottingham before touring extensively.

In 2007 it was revived as a hugely successful, if abbreviated, television drama starring David Haig as Rudyard Kipling and Daniel Radcliffe as his myopic son John (Jack).

The title is taken from the Kipling poem of the same name which he wrote during the First World War about the loss of a son (though not directly his own) in that conflict.

 

Background

Rudyard Kipling was a zealous activist in promoting the need for young British men to sign up and do their bit for King and Country. He endeavoured to get his only son John enlisted in both the Navy and Army, but was unsuccessful because of John's incredibly poor eyesight. As a man of great influence and exalted connection, Kipling enlisted the help his friend, Field Marshall Lord Roberts, the then Commander-in-Chief of the British Army, to get his son a commission in the Irish Guards.

 

Plot

With war on the horizon Kipling is keen to get his son a commission even though he is only just 17. Both Carrie, Kipling's wife, and Elsie, his surviving daughter are against it. But the patriarch prevails, despite another set-back at the Army Medical Board.

The tension in the family home is palpable as John returns from basic training and an inevitable family argument ensues. But Kipling, still evangelising at public meetings, has his way.

In the front line young Jack struggles for authority with members of his Guards platoon, one of whom is an IRA sympathiser. In the pouring rain and ill-prepared they go over the top.

As Act II opens the inevitable telegram arrives and after the initial shock, Carrie sets herself the task of finding and interviewing anyone in Jack's regiment who might have a snippet of information to help her piece together what happened on that day in 1915 when he went missing in action. Kipling's relationships with his wife and remaining child are strained to breaking point.

Two years later an unexpected arrival brings news of the horror of the fateful day in stark detail from another guardsman clearly permanently affected by everything he has witnessed.

Despite this life must go on and Elsie's wedding plans concluded.

Time passes and a more introspective Kipling is able to come to terms with the results of his actions in the best way he knows – the words of a poem.

 

Setting

The action of the play takes place at Batemans the Kipling family home in East Sussex, and on the Western Front in France.  The timeline of the play is 1913 to 1933.

 

Characters

Rudyard Kipling   Author and poet, mid 40s in 1913 

This actor will require gravitas, and the ability to age physically and vocally from his 40s into his 60s. He must be a natural orator who commands the stage.

 

Carrie Kipling   Rudyard’s wife – mid 40s in 1913

This actress must bring a full understanding of motherhood to the role. She must convey quiet stoicism with an undercurrent of real strength. 

 

John Kipling  Kipling’s only son 16 in 1913

This actor must be youthful and ideally slight of figure. He must be able to convey breeding and confidence in uniform yet be vulnerable and acutely aware of his physical limitations.

 

Elsie Kipling   Kipling’s only surviving daughter – 18 in 1913

This actress must also be youthful and able to mature in the audience's eyes. She is resolute of purpose and unmoved by convention without being a full suffragette. 

 

Major Sparks   Army doctor

The younger of the two medics, this actor must convey both the humbleness of his training and the strength of will engendered by his rank.

 

Col. Rory Pottle  Army Medical Board

Possibly, though not necessarily, nearing retirement age, this actor must have mature command of both his subject and his station in life.

 

Mr Frankland   Friend of Guardsman Bowe

A gentle man who has faced death and survived without apparent ill-effect. This actor must show humility and compassion and remain unawed by status.

 

Irish Guardsmen – Members of John’s battalion

Guardsman Bowe

This actor must be able to convey post-traumatic stress in both vocal and physical demeanour from a gentle farming man ravaged by war.

Guardsman McHugh

Probably a career soldier caught between his belief in fighting for freedom and his loathing of the British control of his home in Catholic Northern Ireland.

Guardsman Doyle

A mediator, resigned to his lot, this actor must represent the everyman who went over the top to almost certain death for what he thought he believed was right.

 

NB Some of the supporting roles can and may be doubled.

 

If you would like further information about the production please contact the directors, Wesley Henderson Roe or Jennifer Laney.

Contact Details:  To get in touch with the directors 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.  

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Hampton Hill
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TW12 1NZ

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