Want to be involved but don’t want to act? There’s always plenty to do backstage – see our membership page for details.
Non-members are welcome but please read the notes on this page.
Membership Commitment – as part of your membership we expect all members to support the theatre by assisting with our Front of House Operations when the theatre is open for performances by either Stewarding, working on the Bar or Coffee Bar. We term this as a “Duty” and members are expected to do ten “Duties” per membership year.
New Members will be asked to do three duties before the run of any production they are cast in. Existing members should ensure that they have fulfilled their quota of duties before auditioning or they may not be considered for a production.
All members should do a minimum of three duties within a four month period.
A Midsummer Nights Dream by William Shakespeare
A Midsummer Night’s Dream: William Shakespeare
One of Shakespeare’s most enduring and best-loved comedies, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a beautifully crafted play that draws upon the writing of Ovid and Chaucer, as well as English Folklore, observations of Elizabethan society, and of course Shakespeare’s wonderful imagination.
The play moves from the ordered urban court of Athens to the wild and magical world of the enchanted forest. The action begins in Athens where preparations are being made for the marriage of the Duke, Theseus, and Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons. These preparations are interrupted by one of the courtiers, Egeus, who asks the Duke to intervene in a dispute between himself and his daughter Hermia. Egeus wants Hermia to marry Demetrius (the man he has chosen for her) but she refuses because she is in love with Lysander. When Theseus supports her father’s petition, Hermia and Lysander decide to run away. Demetrius hears of their plans and follows Hermia and Lysander into the forest, and his former lover Helena follows him.
Meanwhile, a group of amateur actors (the Mechanicals) are preparing a performance of Pyramus and Thisbe for the Duke’s wedding celebrations; to avoid prying eyes they make their way into the same enchanted forest to rehearse.
In the forest we find Oberon and Titania, the king and queen of the fairies, embroiled in a bitter row over a child. Oberon, jealous of Titania’s possession of the child seeks revenge and anoints her sleeping eyes with a love juice that makes her fall in love with the next living thing that she sees.
As the lovers and the mechanicals cross paths with the fairies (particularly the impish Puck) comic mayhem ensues…
Audition dates: Saturday 16th March at 2pm and Tuesday 19th March at 7.30pm at the Crescent Theatre.
Call backs will be on Thursday 21st March at 7:30pm
Please prepare a short monologue from any Shakespeare play.
After performing your monologue you will be asked to work with another actor or a group of actors on an extract from the play (the extract will be provided at the audition).
Theseus. Duke of Athens. Represents power and order in the play. Will double as a Fairy
Hippolyta. Queen of the Amazons. A former female warrior thrust into a new social environment dominated by patriarchy. Will Double as a Fairy.
Egeus. Hermia’s father and Master of Ceremonies. An old fashioned patriarch. This production follows the first Folio in assigning the lines for the Master of Ceremonies in Act 5 to Egeus (rather than Philostrate).
The lovers (Under 25 years – these are the only parts for which I have set an age range)
Hermia. A strong and confident young woman, she is in love with Lysander and runs away with him to avoid marrying Demetrius.
Lysander. The young man in love with Hermia.
Helena. An insecure young woman who suffers the trauma of unrequited love.
Demetrius. An ambitious young man who was in love with Helena but now wants to marry Hermia.
Nick Bottom. An ambitious amateur actor who is seduced by the queen of the fairies. Plays Pyramus in the production of Pyramus and Thisbe.
Peter Quince. The stressed out director of Pyramus and Thisbe.
Frances Flute. A very promising young actor. Plays Thisbe in Pyramus and Thisbe. Will double as a fairy.
Snug. A shy but charming individual. Plays Lion in Pyramus and Thisbe. Will double as a fairy.
Tom Snout. If you enjoy physical comedy this is the role for you. Plays Wall in Pyramus and Thisbe. Will double as a fairy.
Robin Starveling. An assertive actor with a short fuse. Plays Moonshine in Pyramus and Thisbe. Will double as a fairy.
Titania. Queen of the fairies. She is sensual, earthy, and has a deep sense of loyalty.
Oberon. King of the fairies. He is jealous and vindictive, but also shows a more tender side to his character.
Puck. Servant to Oberon. A mischievous fairy who plays pranks on unsuspecting mortals.
Fairy/Attendant (non-speaking role)
Rehearsals and Performances
Rehearsals start on Sunday 7th April and run throughout April and May (there will also be 3 rehearsals between the studio run and the tour). Please bring your diaries to the audition so you can let me know of any prior commitments you have during the rehearsal period. All cast members must attend all technical and dress rehearsals and all performances.
Technical week begins: 3 June 2019
There are a total of 16 performances: 8 in the Ron Barber Studio and 8 at outdoor venues across the Midlands.
Performance Dates: 8 June – 15 June (studio), 29 June-14 July (tour)
Ron Barber studio (6 evenings and 2 matinees):
Saturday 8th June – 7:45pm
Sunday 9th June – 2:45pm
Monday 10th June – No Performance
Tuesday 11th June – 7:45pm
Wednesday 12th June – 7:45pm
Thursday 13th June – 7:45pm
Friday 14th June – 7:45pm
Saturday 15th June – 2:45pm and 7:45pm
After the studio run the production will go out on tour. We perform in the open air in all weathers! Performance dates and venues are:
Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens
Saturday 29th June – 3pm
Sunday 30th June – 3pm
Saturday 6th July – 5pm
Sunday 7th July – 5pm
Wednesday 10th July – 7pm
Thursday 11th July – 7pm
Saturday 13th July – 7pm
Sunday 14th July – 5pm
Georgina Evans (Director) firstname.lastname@example.org
This Happy Breed by Noel Coward
This Happy Breed is quite different to the brittle comedies of manners most associated with Noël Coward. There is not a silk dressing gown in sight in the Gibbons Family’s semi-detached in Clapham. Coward was often irked by the suggestion that with his fame and cocktail lifestyle he couldn’t understand the lives of ‘ordinary people.’ He felt his roots – his father was a piano tuner and his mother ran a boarding house – had given him an ear for the speech of ‘ordinary’ Londoners and an insight into their hopes and fears. He certainly captures perfectly the conservatism of the lower middle classes of the period, anxious to maintain a position that might have been as unknown to their parents as an indoor bathroom, which often resulted in Conservatism with a capital ‘C’.
The Gibbons family and their friends live through the turbulent 20s and 30s until, at the end of the play, another global war is about to erupt.
If that seems a little dark as a plot, the piece is shot through with humour and genuine affection. There are marvellous set pieces such as a family celebration which turns into an almighty row. These family feuds and squabbles are underpinned with great love that is hardly ever expressed in words.
Why This Play Now?
Well, firstly the date – it opens in 1919 just after the end of WW1 – but more importantly this is a time of some monumental events such as the general strike, the abdication and Chamberlain’s Munich agreement. What resonates so strongly as I write this, is the polarising effect of these events. Family and friends disagree bitterly, over politics and attitudes to a world beyond England. Some long to maintain the status quo and a past they may have romanticised, others want to embrace change and think about a world beyond their immediate experience.
Some of the speeches which boosted morale during its original wartime run might seem a bit cringe worthy today but, to be honest, they are little different from much of the rhetoric we are being exposed to at the moment.
The first thing many actors look at is the playing age but, as the play spans twenty years there is quite a bit of leeway in that area. I will give their suggested ages when we first meet them and a chronology of the scenes for you to do the maths. Do bear in mind that to be 60, for example, in the early part of the last century is a lot different to being 60 now. The aim would not to cast actors of a particular age but to create a company where the spread of ages seems logical.
Frank Gibbons 35 (1919)
Has survived the 1st war and been able to land a job as a Travel Agent. This is the role Coward wrote for himself and so Frank peddles a lot of the Master’s favourite issues atheism, exasperation for Christian Science and contempt for Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler. Au fond he is a proud and devoted family man but, like many men of this era and class he finds it easier to talk to his friend than his wife. Coward himself said that, whilst it is certain that Frank held these beliefs his easy articulation of them is rather more theatrical than truthful.
‘I belong to a generation of men, most of which aren’t here any more, and we all did the same thing for the same reason, no matter what we thought about politics. Now it’s all over and we’re going on as best we can as though nothing had happened.’
Ethel Gibbons 34 (1919)
Frank’s wife who is trying to adjust to her husband’s return from the war, a new house and life with her immediate family (three children) plus her mother and Frank’s sister. Like Frank, she’s very much of her time. She camouflages her love of Frank with pretended indifference. Not without spark, she says, ‘there will always be wars as long as men are such fools enough as to want to go to them.’ She finds it almost impossible to adapt to newer views of morality but ultimately family love will be the decider.
‘The next time you go to a regimental dinner you can go to a hotel afterwards and sleep it off. This is my dining-room, this is, not a bar parlour.’
Sylvia Gibbons 34 (1919)
Frank’s sister and therefore Aunty Sylvia. Anyone old enough to remember Giles cartoons and the wonderful hypochondriac aunt can get a picture of Sylvia. She concentrates exclusively on what she sees as her fragile health and any new ‘cure.’ Eventually embracing Christian Science. Unconsciously she is the centre of much of the humour in the family.
‘ I thought I was going to have one of my attacks just as I turned into Abbeville Road. I ‘ad to lean against a pillar box.’
Vi Gibbons 20 (1925)
Vi is in love with Sam but can’t accept his politics. She has the practical sense of Ethel and the no nonsense insights of her father, but adjusted for a new age. She may not have Queenie’s repartee but puts Sam very firmly in his place with some pithy observations.
‘And the next time you come here on a Saturday night and start pawing me about, you’ll get such a smack in the face that you’ll wish you’d never been born.’
Queenie Gibbons 19 (1925)
Is the sparkier sister, with a good line in putdowns, she knows that a life in suburbia is not for her and, despite a deep affection for Billy can’t imagine a life with him. Her actions are to cause the most serious rift between Frank and Ethel that there has ever been. Her life takes on all the excitement she wished for but in unforeseen ways.
‘I want too much – I’m always thinking about the kind of things I want and they wouldn’t be the kind of things you’d want me to want.’
Reg Gibbons 18 (1925)
The youthful Reg is deeply influenced by Sam and takes on his political stance. He becomes more politicised by the general strike in 1926.
‘Old people always think that all the young people want is to enjoy themselves.’
Bob Mitchell 37 (1919)
The next door neighbour, Bob is married to Nora, who is never seen. He works in insurance and was in the war for the duration. He met Frank at Festubert in 1915. He is Billy’s father.
‘Nora’s a bit more cheerful, she always is when Billy’s home.’
Sam Leadbitter 19 (1925)
A Communist firebrand who sees a clear future for a reorganised society; love and maturity change all that.
‘It’s people like you, apathetic, unthinking, docile supporters of a capitalistic system who are responsible for at least three quarters of the suffering in the world.’
Phyllis Blake 18 (1925)
Lives and cares for her bedridden aunt. She marries Reg.
‘I don’t know what I’d have done all by myself in that house in Wandsworth with Auntie ill and everything.’
Billy Mitchell 21 (1925)
The boy next door, Billy joins the Navy and has his offer of marriage rejected by Queenie. He never gives up on her.
‘You can’t hold hands with someone all through Desert Love and next minute expect them to treat you like the Empress of Russia.’
Mrs Flint 60 (1919)
Ethel’s mother who moved in with her daughter – as was often the case at this time – when she was widowed. She is continually on the alert for perceived slights and likes nothing better than an argument. She thrives on these battles – especially with Sylvia – they seem to reenergise her.
‘Me complain? I like that, I must say. I’ve ‘ad a splitting ‘eadache ever since two o’clock and I haven’t so much as mentioned it.’
Is the ‘help’ she is described as, ‘a rather unkempt girl of about 25’ but she could be almost any age. In the days before domestic appliances it was quite usual for households of even quite moderate status to have what was also known as a daily. I can’t pretend that this is an enormous role but someone could have some fun with it.
‘Mother was up all night poulticing Father’s neck, but it was still paining him terrible when I left this morning.’
The action of the play passes in the dining-room of the GIBBONS’ house, Number 17 Sycamore Road, Clapham Common.
Scene 1 June 1919
Scene 2 December 1925
Scene 3 May 1926
Scene 1 October 1931
Scene 2 November 1931
Scene 3 May 1932
Scene 1 December 1936
Scene 2 September 1938
Scene 3 June 1939
If you look at newsreels or films of the period you will hear a particular accent which Coward captures in the rhythm of the text. It is more rapid and clipped than we would hear today, and actually closer to Received Pronunciation. Obviously this would be developed in rehearsal and not expected at an audition.
Michael Barry (Director)
Despite being a member of The Crescent Theatre for numerous years, many of you will not know who I am. For the last twenty years I have been director of theatre studies at Birmingham Conservatoire and combining that with a freelance career, has kept me away. I’m extremely happy to have been given the opportunity to direct here again. My directing style depends on the needs of the piece. I do like to work collaboratively and to give actors the space to develop their roles, having said that, this is a period piece and I would wish to make sure that the details of style and manners reflect the age in which it is set.
Please contact me with any questions, observations and so on: email@example.com
Tuesday April 2nd 7.30 pm
Friday April 5th 7.30 pm
Call Backs: Tuesday April 9th 7.30 pm
1st Rehearsal Sunday May 5th
Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday.
Please prepare – but don’t memorise – the below excerpts for whom you are auditioning for:
(CLICK THE NAME BELOW TO DOWNLOAD THE SECTION)