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Our Country's Good - Reading and Audition Notice

Our Country

 

Reading: Sunday 13th March, 6.00 pm (Coward)

Audition: Sunday 27th March, from 4.00pm (Coward)

Performance Dates:Tuesday 28th June - Saturday 2nd July (Auditorium)

"Rarely has the redemptive, transcendental power of theatre been argued with such eloquence and passion." The Independent.

Australia, 1789. A young lieutenant is directing rehearsals for the first play ever to be staged in that country - with only two copies of the text, a cast of convicts and one leading lady about to be hanged…

Timberlake Wertenbaker's hugely popular and influential drama continues to captivate audiences 30 years after its initial production at the Royal Court. This inventive, occasionally harrowing, and ultimately uplifting play raises timeless questions about what makes for a country's good: the principles of justice and punishment, the value of culture and the redemptive power of theatre itself.

This play has a particular relevance for TTC as the production the convicts stage is The Recruiting Officer,  last September to re-open the main stage (after just a week’s rehearsal).  Fortunately, this production will benefit from a more standard rehearsal period and we hope our love and knowledge of The Recruiting Officer will make Our Country’s Good even richer.

Director, Matt Beresford will joined by Douglas Schatz as assistant director and a design team of Fiona Auty, Colin Swinton, Harry Jacobs and a costume team led by Zoe Harvey-Lee together with Laura Duke stage managing. With such a strong team off-stage, we look forward to casting an acting team of equal talent.

Watch Matt's Videos about the show.

 

Whilst the play has 22 roles we are looking to follow the original production’s doubling, using 10 actors. In the original Court production this was 6M/4F, but we are open to being flexible here. This doubling enables every actor to play at least two superb roles, a convict and an officer, and enjoy true ensemble playing. We am welcoming the opportunity to audition actors of colour to embrace a diverse cast in keeping with both the characters of the play and the spirit of the original production.

This doubling has a number of purposes in Wertenbaker’s play and is not just a practical consideration but an important statement about the nature of acting - as Dabby says: People without imagination shouldn’t go to the theatre and this show really embraces the idea of the power of excellent acting and a simple set which allow the imagination of the audience to fill in the gaps in a rich and evocative way.

For those who would like to read the play we are using the 2020 Methuen Student Edition. If you’d like to learn more about the play and listen to Douglas and I discussing it please listen to Episode 35 of Douglas’s hugely popular podcast, The Play Podcast on Our Country’s Good.

Character List

Whilst this is the likely doubling, we may have to make some alterations depending on the cast.

Male Actor 1 - 2nd Lt. Ralph Clark

The only actor not doubled in the play. A pious, ambitious, but fundamentally decent young man who takes on the responsibility of directing The Recruiting Officer. If the play has a true protagonist, it is Ralph and his journey offers plenty for the actor to get his teeth into!

Playing Age (25-40)

Female Actor 1 - Mary Brenham & Reverend Johnson

Mary is one of the few convicts who went to school and can therefore read and who eventually plays the lead in The Recruiting Officer - she is transformed by the experience and eventually becomes romantically involved with Ralph.

The Reverend Johnson is the only religious figure in the colony and a fun pompous ass to play.

Playing Age: 20-40

M2 - Major Ross & James ‘Ketch’ Freeman

Major Ross is the officer most vehemently against the play - a great meaty role, often played with a Scots accent though not essential.

Ketch is a convict turned hangman, an Irishman, who often seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time…

Two big meaty parts for a character actor.

Playing Age: 35 - 60

F2 - Duckling and ‘Shitty’ Meg

Duckling is a convict in the penal colony who is romantically involved with Harry Brewer, though she resents him because of how controlling he is. A role of great emotional range throughout the play.

Shitty Meg is a superb small cameo in one early scene. 

Playing Age: 18 - 30

M3 - Captain Phillip & Wisehammer

Phillip is a captain in the Royal Navy who has been brought out of retirement to serve as governor of the penal colony in Australia. A kind and empathetic man who is against overt displays of violent punishment.

Wisehammer is a convict in the penal colony, who isn’t initially cast in The Recruiting Officer, but is encouraged to join due to his attraction to Mary and his great love of language.

Two beautifully contrasting and substantial roles

Age: 35-55

F3 - Liz Morden & Lt. William Dawes

One of the convicts in the penal colony. Liz is the most insubordinate prisoner of the entire group, often tempting the guards to punish her by misbehaving or speaking out of turn. Her casting in the play is central to Phillip’s experiment that even a convict as ‘depraved’ as Liz can be ‘redeemed’. 

Dawes is a scientist, with his head very much on the stars and not in the arts.

Liz’s speech at the beginning of Act 2 has become an audition standard and the part is a superb challenge for any actress.

Playing Age: 25-50

M4 - Capt. David Collins & Robert Sideway

Another captain overseeing the penal colony in Australia. Collins has been chosen to fulfil the position of the colony’s judge. As such, he helps Phillip create a moral and just society, stressing the importance of a healthy judicial system. Sideway is a smooth-talking and well-mannered man who presents himself as a sophisticated gentleman. A pick-pocket by profession, he has a great appreciation for the theatre…or at least his idea of it.

A glorious comic role contrasted with a liberal judge - a lot of fun!

Playing Age: 30-60

F4 - Dabby Bryant & 2nd. Lt. William Faddy

Dabby is a convict in the penal colony. Loud and crass, she is Mary’s closest friend, which is why she decides that—since Mary’s going to be in the play—she wants to act in The Recruiting Officer, too, although her heart yearns for Devon.

Faddy is another officer who is against the play - seemingly just because Ralph is involved in it.

The main female comedic role and ideally with a strong West Country accent.

Playing Age: 25- 45

M5/F5 - The Aboriginal Australian, Caesar & Capt. Tench

An Aboriginal who, at various moments throughout the play, delivers brief monologues about the arrival of the British in Australia, outlining how the area’s indigenous population perceives the newcomers.

Caesar is a convict in the penal colony who hails from Madagascar. Never officially cast in The Recruiting Officer, but decides that he simply must be involved…

Tench is another senior officer, one of primary antagonists of the play, he believes that criminals can’t be reformed.

The Aboriginal Australian is the only figure who speaks directly to the audience, Caesar provides plenty of fun and Tench space for pomposity and righteousness.

Age (20-50)

M6 - Midshipman Harry Brewer, John Arscott & Capt. Jemmy Campbell

A low-ranking officer in the Royal Navy, Harry focuses primarily on his relationship with a convict named Duckling, of whom he’s hugely possessive.  As the play nears its premiere, though, Harry is increasingly tormented by the ghosts of the men he helped hang.

Arscott is cast in The Recruiting Officer, but tries to escape before the first rehearsal and is flogged. He later becomes immersed in rehearsals, feeling as if the theatrical experience gives him an opportunity to forget about his own life.

 Campbell is constantly drunk, and though he always aligns with Ross, he can’t quite hide how amused he is by The Recruiting Officer.

Three hugely rewarding and challenging roles for an experienced actor. Harry’s breakdown is one of the most powerful scenes in the play, Jemmy’s constant drunkenness quite the challenge and Arscott provides plenty of fun.

Playing Age 35-55

Rehearsals

Rehearsals will take place on two evenings a week (probably Tuesday/Thursday, though this is not fixed) and on most of the Sundays of the rehearsal period. In the first half of the rehearsal period I will endeavour not to call people more than twice a week, although I am very keen to give this substantial piece of work the time it needs to be truly excellent.

There will be some additional rehearsals in the week before the production run. I will only call you when you are required, but will try to get the whole cast together at least once a week.

Casting

TTC has a totally open audition policy and we enjoy meeting new people.  You don't have to be a TTC member to attend the reading and audition - and if you aren't available for the audition date set don't worry - you can still audition. If cast, will then be required to join as a Full Member. 

For more information email: ttcartistic@teddingtontheatreclub.org.uk