Landscape & A kind of Alaska

AUDITIONS NOTICE

Landscape and A Kind of Alaska by Harold Pinter

Please read carefully all the details, in particular rehearsal dates. Please do not audition if you have significant clashes with the rehearsal or performance period. If you are unsure whether unavailability will be an issue please check first by emailing jaholden0@gmail.com

Director: John Holden

Production Dates:  18 -23 September 2018. 18th-21st: 7.30pm, 22nd & 23rd: 2.30pm & 7.30pm

Rehearsal Dates:  Rehearsals are likely to commence in the first week of August 3 -4 rehearsals a week. Mostly weekday evenings.

Audition Dates: 

1st round:

Monday 14th May (6.30pm-9.30pm)

Wednesday 16th May  (6.30pm-9.30pm)

2nd round (recall date)

Sunday 20th May (11.00am)

Please note all auditionees for the first round must in principle be also able to attend the recall date.

If you are absolutely not able to make an audition date but want to be seen please still email  jaholden0@gmail.com

How to sign-up: This can be done either via email or by coming into the theatre office.

Coming in to the theatre: Sign-up on the sheet specifying which part you would like to be considered for. Choose your preferred first round audition date, and then you will be contacted with an allotted time slot. A copy of the play will be available to read within the theatre.

By email: Email jaholden0@gmail.com specifying all of the following information:

‘Name’ ‘Phone number’ ‘Email address’ ‘Which part you would like to audition for’ and ‘Preferred first round audition date’. Please also specify whether you would like to be emailed a scanned copy of the script.

Format of auditions: Please ensure you have read the play or plays you want to audition for before the audition. There are no extracts to prepare in advance.  First round will consist of one-to-one reading with the director. Recalls will consist of reading extracts in pairs or small groups. All sessions will last approximately 25 minutes. Please be familiar enough with the play(s) to be able to discuss them.  You do not need to have learned a part or any extracts.

About the plays

These two plays, from 1968 and 1982 respectively, bookend what could be described as Pinter's middle period, between the early naturalistic dramas like the Caretaker or the Homecoming and the later more overly political plays. These plays are more lyrical, dealing in emotion and sensation rather than plot. They are both explorations of the power of recollection.  Pinter was deeply fascinated by the role of memory in making us who we are and these two plays offer a powerful and concentrated exploration of how memories form the building blocks of our identities.

Pinter said: "There are two silences. One when no word is spoken. The other when perhaps a torrent of language is being employed. This speech is speaking of a language locked beneath it. That is its continual reference. The speech we hear is an indication of that which we don't hear. It is a necessary avoidance, a violent, sly, anguished or mocking smoke screen which keeps the other in its place."

All of the parts provide a great opportunity to test your skills against some of the best writing in British drama.  Each part is challenging and rewarding and the lines are a thrilling pleasure to speak. Actors will need to be prepared to mine their own memories, feelings and experiences.

Landscape

A man and a woman sit in the kitchen of a country house at opposite ends of  a long table. Once servants employed by a Mr. Sykes, they now live alone in his country house. Beth and Duff, apparently a couple, reflect on their past  - he uses his memories as a weapon, she uses them as a place of escape from an unhappy present. But - we are never sure whether they are in the same place at the same time - are they taunting each other with their memories? Who is in whose head? The text requires that "Duff refers normally to Beth but does not appear to hear her voice" and "Beth never looks at Duff and does not appear to hear his voice. Both characters are relaxed, in no sense rigid."

What plot there is exists only in the stories told by the characters. Beth remembers a past love affair: a day at the beach with her unidentified lover laying together on the same, and the subsequent drink at a hotel bar.  Duff recalls being caught in the rain in a nearby park, visiting the local pub, where he argues with a stranger about beer, and a moment of trauma in his relationship with Beth.

Nothing is distinct, everything is ambiguous. What we see and what makes the play so exciting is the visceral depth with which they mine their pasts, without any prospect of resolution - it's a play that hits you in the guts.

Casting Breakdown

Beth: 40 - 55

Duff: 45 - 60

For both these roles ages matter less than the ability to convey a rich life experience.

A Kind of Alaska

In the early decades of the twentieth century, millions of people fell ill with sleeping sickness, encephalitis lethargica. They became silent, still and comatose, sometimes for decades. In the 1960s, a drug developed for Parkinson's was given to a group of patients, and in several cases, what seemed like a miraculous remission occurred. Patients woke, laughed, spoke, became themselves again. But the action of the drug was unreliable, and patients were eventually re-entombed in their own stiffened bodies.

The setting of the play is deceptively normal: a pleasantly comfortable sitting room. A woman, Deborah, lies on a bed. She wakes after sleeping for 29 years, the victim of sleeping sickness - a flirtatious girl of 15 in the body of a 44 year old woman. Her doctor, Hornby, who has watched over her all these years, has given his life to her. And her younger sister, Pauline, married to the doctor, has had her life suspended by her husband's all-consuming obsession. We see these people trying to come to terms with the changes that events have brought about in their lives, and struggling to make sense of the world but somehow coming to a heartbreaking resolution.

Deborah struggles to orient herself, remembering sisters, a dog, her parents, anticipating a birthday party; she's sometimes an eager child, sometimes a distraught and disoriented adult, filled alternately with foreboding and a wordless wonder. The man, Hornby, tells her he is her doctor and has been watching and taking care of her for 29 years, but she can't take in the information, though she does periodically attempt a mildly lewd flirtation with him. Nor does she recognize the middle-aged woman who comes into the room and introduces herself as her younger sister, Pauline, and also — as Hornby tells Deborah a little later — his wife.

Casting Breakdown

Deborah: playing age mid forties

Hornby: a little older than Deborah

Pauline: playing age about 40