Jerusalem

AUDITIONS NOTICE

Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth 

Please read carefully all the details, in particular rehearsal and performance dates. If you are unsure whether unavailability will be an issue please check first by emailing jez.pike@maddermarket.org

Director: Jez Pike    Production Dates:  Fri 16th – Sat 24th March 2018. 10 performances including Saturday matinees.

Rehearsal Dates:  From 29th January. 4-5 rehearsals a week. Likely to include some weekend rehearsals.

Audition Dates: 

1st round:

Option A: Sunday 19th November (10am-1pm)  Option B:  Sunday 26th November (10am-1pm)

2nd round                                                                                                                           

Option A: Sunday 3rd December (10am-1pm)    Option B: Saturday 9th December (10am-1pm)

Please note all auditionees must in principle be able to attend at least one of the recall dates. If you are absolutely not able to make an audition date but want to be seen please still email jez.pike@maddermarket.org All auditions will be held at The Maddermarket.

How to sign-up: You can either register by coming into the theatre office and signing-up in person or by emailing jez.pike@maddermarket.org. Please provide the following: Name, email address, phone number, the part/s you’d like to audition for and your preferred 1st round audition date. Auditions extracts can either be collected as hard copies from the theatre office, or sent to you as scanned copy. Please request in your email should you wish the latter.

Please feel free to takes extracts for as many parts as you want. You will be able to read for all the parts that might interest you at your first round audition date.

About the Play

Described by The Guardian as ‘Unarguably one the best dramas of the twenty-first century’, Jerusalem became a theatrical phenomenon when it premiered at the Royal Court in 2009. Winning the Evening Standard Best Play award it went on to have two West End runs and a Broadway transfer, picking up Olivier and Tony awards along the way.

The play combines Jez Butterworth’s signature tunes – razor-sharp, quick fire dialogue, a talent for exploring the hollowness of machismo male relationships, an instinct for putting on stage no-hopers, criminals and down-and-outers and a fascination with the enduring myth of the English Countryside.

Butterworth wrote Jerusalem whilst living in rural Wiltshire and this is where the play is set. On the outskirts of a small town, is ‘Roosters Wood’, where a drug-dealing, illegal caravan-dwelling vagrant name ‘Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron lives. An ex-dare-devil and teller of the tallest tales, he is surrounded by a motley crew of hangers-on, under-age teenagers and over-grown boys who come to him for free boo’s, cheap drugs and camaraderie.

Byron is something like a modern-day pied piper, Robin Hood or possibly a friendly Giant from the earliest days of English myth. But his anarchic and merry rebellion against the modern world is at risk of being trampled. The local council have issued a warrant for his eviction and the constabulary are ‘tooling up’.

Over the course of 24hrs – covering the St. George’s Day celebration - a host of colourful characters; friends, dependants, enemies and exploiters come in and out of his wood. A last stand is spoken of, drugs are taken, truths told and secrets revealed. As the council and police move in, the play moves from dramatic comedy, to a grittier play, and finally to a wider canvas; one that takes in epic themes of myth, Englishness, and identity.

About the Production

Jerusalem is a big ambitious play, a work of real depth and scale. It requires witty, totally believable, and frequently anarchic performances and a good ear for fast, rude and very contemporary dialogue.

Butterworth writes with a really distinctive rhythm and requires actors to match the speed of his character’s thoughts. Lots of time will be spent on moving through the gears to get up to ‘Butterworth-tempo’ and collectively tuning-in to the way the characters talk. Most have native-Wiltshire accents. Though an ear for accents will definitely help, assistance will be provided and anyone who doesn’t intuitively have a grip on a broadly Wiltshire accent certainly shouldn’t be put off auditioning.

The play is great fun, frequently rowdy and raucous, yet with moments of real truth and poignancy. It requires a lot of energy and close attention to text, but the rewards will be immense. There are few contemporary plays of Jerusalem’s calibre and opportunities to do them are fewer still.

Cast Breakdown

Cast Size: Either 13 (8m,5f) or 11 (7m, 4f) depending on doubling.

MALE PARTS

Johnny ‘Rooster’ Bryon. Playing age late 40’s to late 50’s. This is undoubtedly a virtuoso role and will require a big commitment in terms of lines and a real ability to command the stage. Energy, physical commitment, a willingness to lead from the front in rehearsals and a sense of anarchic fun will be the keys to conquering this hugely rewarding role. ‘Rooster’ is charismatic, earthy, salt-of-the-earth and gruff. He is also canny, genuinely intelligent and possesses a kind of olde-world wisdom which can transform him from the kind of guy who you would really not want to sit next to on a bus to a figure who may just know truths about this ‘sceptred isle’ that allude most modern folk. Above all ‘Rooster’ is visceral and intuitive and requires the actor to get their hands dirty and fully feel the part.

Ginger. Playing age mid 20's to mid 30's.Ginger is the kind of guy who never grows up. Every small town has one. He’s the one who’s still hanging out drinking white lightening in the park when all his contemporaries have moved on. Something in him won’t ever commit to being an adult, and so he hangs around with kids almost half his age, living the same life of cheap drugs, cheap booze and small-town antics that he was a decade earlier. Ginger of course thinks he is far more than this. A self-styled DJ (though he’s never actually done a set) he is ‘Rooster’s’ number 1 hanger-on and considers himself to be his right hand-man. His affection is real, and of all the posse his dependency on Rooster is probably the greatest. He is goofy, funny, easy to take the piss out of and kind-hearted. Yet when push comes to shove however, he doesn’t have it in him to stand with Rooster and fight.

The Professor. Playing age 60 and above. An eccentric, rather delusional, posh gent who lives on his own somewhere near Rooster’s wood and frequently wanders in to chat to ‘Mr Byron’. He is unworldly, occasionally a little ga-ga, whimsical and educated (though it’s highly likely he’s not actually a professor’). He’s thoroughly looking forward to the St. George’s Day celebrations and spends much of the first act sporadically quoting pastoral poetry. In the second half he happily partakes in Rooster’s ‘Last Stand’ rave and ends of off his face with comic consequences. Now and then – usually when no one is listening – he’ll have a moment of real lucidity and will capture an idea of English myth with real feeling.

Lee. Playing age 18-early 20’s.  Best mates with Davey and one the ‘young’un’s who regularly hangs out in Roosters Wood. An air-headed but kind-hearted scally. Though he’s never been outside of Wiltshire he has decided to emigrate to Australia, with dreams of finding himself – or at least something better than his home town an offer. He’s got the ticket and the St. George’s Day festivities are supposed to be his big send-off. No one believes he’ll go and late on in the play he has inevitable second-thoughts. As the play darkens and Rooster’s wood is threatened, Lee like all the young hangers-on, abandons Rooster; a figure they are all guilty of secretly mocking.

Davey: Playing age 18-early 20’s. Lee’s best mate who will miss him when he goes (if he ever does) but feels absolutely no inclination to join the exodus. Considering himself as a bit of a wide-boy who’s got life sorted, he is more than content with his life of working in an abattoir, picking up a pay-cheque on the Friday, getting hammered and laid on the weekend and doing it all over again the next week. For Davey, there is no life beyond Wiltshire. Like Lee, he is happy to be a jester at the court of Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron (and get free drugs in the process), but when push comes to shove his support is lacking.

Wesley: Playing age. 40’s-50’s. Landlord of a local pub owned by a chain. Forced by the company to dress up and perform as a Morris Dancer as part of the corporate festivities for St. George’s Day -  he is deeply unamused. Rooster and his hangers-on take the piss mercilessly. The night before, Rooster has run wild in his pub and Wesley is forced to bar him. Though a frequently grumpy soul whose relationship with Rooster is tetchy, there is a sense his heart isn’t really in the ban. He also makes the effort to let Rooster knows about the impending eviction plans – advice which is ill-heeded. In the second half, (on the come down from some of Rooster’s whizz), Wesley mellows as he laments the failure of the pub chain to appreciate his efforts and the constant hectoring from his wife.

The following two roles could potentially be doubled-up to form one role, or played by separate actors. A decision will be taken as a result of auditions. Actors are welcome to go up for both roles or one of them.

Troy Whitworth: Playing age late 20’s-early 30’s. A nasty piece of work. Aggressive, high-status and physically imposing, Troy is a rough local who once as a teenager hung out with Rooster but now deeply resents him. His step-daughter Phaedra has gone missing; her whereabouts a mystery for much of the play. He instantly lays the blame at the door of Rooster, and accuses Rooster of essentially being a paedophile. Rooster doesn’t back down however, and insinuates that is in fact Troy who has been sexually abusing his step-daughter and that is why she has run away. In fact, Phaedra has been hiding out in Rooster’s caravan under his protection all along. When Troy returns with his heavy’s near the end of the play, he catches Rooster dancing with Phaedra and all hell is unleashed. Off-stage (inside the caravan), we hear the sounds of a horrific beating which climaxes in Rooster being branded using a blowtorch.

Luke Parsons. Playing age Mid 20’s to 40. Official for the local council who is working on Rooster’s case. Comes to the wood at the beginning of the play to issue to eviction notice, and then returns near the end to inform Rooster that he is due to be forcibly removed in a few hours if he doesn’t comply. He is the junior partner in a pairing of council officials, working under the ambitious and rather self-important Linda Fawcett. Parson’s is a little crude, goes about his job with limited authority, and lacks any real conviction for the job. He is used to being treated by his superior in a rather autocratic manner and there may be hint of resentment – though he’s not the kind of bloke to be bothered to do much about it.

FEMALE PARTS

Phaedra. Playing 18-early 20’s.  Aged 16. Step-daughter of the deeply unpleasant Troy Whitworth. As part of the previous year’s St. George’s Day celebrations, Phaedra was made the town’s ‘May Queen’. She is now missing, her whereabouts a mystery for much of the play. Everyone has been asking for her, in part because there cannot be a new ‘May Queen’ without the old one to hand over the crown. She is actually hiding in Rooster’s caravan – perhaps because she doesn’t want her year of being special to end, perhaps for a darker reason; it is insinuated that her step-father may have been sexually abusing her. When she finally emerges from her hiding place she is a beguiling and somewhat unusual girl; unpredictable, instinctive, girlish and yet also sad beyond her years. At the very start of the play she appears in an abstract image. Dressed as an angel like a figure out of William Blake, she sings the first verse of the hymn Jerusalem directly to the audience. The actor needs to have a strong and pure singing voice.

Pea: Playing age 18-early 20’S. One half of the Pea/Tanya double-act. She’s 16, cheeky, street-smart and with a kind heart. During Act 1 Pea and Tanya emerge from under the caravan having been there all night without Rooster’s knowledge. She does all the things that a 16 year old does (and definitely shouldn’t do) and as for so many of the waif and strays, Rooster’s wood represents something of a sanctuary for her from a neglectful and probably broken family life.

Tanya: Playing age 18-early 20’s. One half of the Tanya/Pea double-act. Also 16, she is gobby, street-smart and a bit more cutting than her mate Pea. Emerges from under the caravan in Act 1 having spent the night there with Pea. If anything she is even more ‘forward’ than Pea and happily offers Lee a ‘no strings’ attached f**k as a going away present. Much to her mystification, Lee turns her down. As for Pea, Tanya uses Rooster’s wood as a cross between a sanctuary and a ‘university of life’.

The following two roles could potentially be doubled-up to form one role, or played by separate actors. A decision will be taken as a result of auditions. Actors are welcome to go up for both roles or one of them.

Dawn: Playing age 30-40. Rooster’s ex and the father of his 6 year old boy Marky (who makes a brief appearance in the play). Dawn first arrives at Rooster’s wood to drop off Marky who is supposed to be going to the fair with his father. Clearly not for the first time, Rooster lets her down (as he is staying in the wood to plan his ‘last stand’). Embattled from a long history of having a relationship with and then a son with a chronically irresponsible and unpredictable man, Dawn is feisty, world-wearied and impatient with Rooster. She has certainly been no angel in the past herself however, and still has a real, if frayed, affection for Rooster and his impending plight.

Linda Fawcett: Playing age 30-45. Official for the local council who is working on Rooster’s case. Comes to the wood at the beginning of the play to issue to eviction notice, and then returns near the end to inform Rooster that he is due to be forcibly removed in a few hours if he doesn’t comply. Fawcett is the senior partner in the pairing of officials, and regularly makes this clear to her somewhat plodding junior, Luke Parsons. Fawcett is ambitious, by-the-book, self-important and zealous in her duties. She’s has a long history of run-ins with Rooster and is absolutely determined to see the eviction through. On their first appearance Parsons and Fawcett can be portrayed quite satirically as they go about their official business. When they return however, they deliver a real blow to Rooster. With unnecessary coldness they read to him all the names of locals who have signed a petition to support his eviction. It is a horrible moment, when Rooster realises the myth of his popularity is shattered and the townsfolk have turned against the outsider.

Child casting

The production will be conducting an independent casting process for the part of 6 year old Marky, who makes a brief appearance as Rooster’s son. If anyone would like to recommend someone however, please do ask the child’s parents to contact the director at jez.pike@maddermarket.org. Stage experience is not essential. Ideal actual age of the child would be between 7 and 10.