Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
Please check all dates both for the rehearsal and performance period carefully
Director: Tony Fullwood Production Dates: 20th-28th Sept (including matinees on 21st & 28th)
Location: Main House
Rehearsal Dates: From week commencing 5th August. Standard times will be 7-10pm on week nights. You can expect to be required for between two to four evenings per week depending on size of role. Some weekend rehearsals may be required if the process falls behinds schedule through absence or illness.
August is a month when holidays are often taken. Whilst it may be possible to accommodate someone being away for up to a week this cannot be confirmed before final casting.
All auditions will be held at The Maddermarket Theatre
Option A: Mon 4th March (6-9pm) Option C: Thurs 7th March 6-9pm
Option B: Wed 6th March (6-9pm) Option D: Sun 10th March 2.30-5.30pm
Following the first round, actors may be recalled for a 2nd round. You must have availability for at least one of the following:
Option A: Wed 13th March 6-9pm Option B: Sun 17th March 2.30-5.30pm
If you wish to audition but have a problem making any of the above dates please contact the director Tony Fullwood email@example.com
The audition will consist of an individual 20-minute session with the director during which you should perform the audition extract you have learnt.
You are strongly encouraged to familarise yourself with the entire play before auditioning. There are a number of free versions of the text to read online. One can be found here
A reading copy is also available from the theatre office, to be read on site.
How to sign up
Please download and complete the standard ‘Auditions Submission Form’ here. The completed form should be returned as an attachment to Director of Productions at The Maddermarket Theatre, Jez Pike, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your information will then be processed, stored and distributed in accordance with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
If you indicate your preferred audition dates and times, the production’s director – Tony Fullwood – will then contact you via email to arrange an audition slot and send you audition speech(es) to learn for the part(s) you are interested in.
Hard copies of the audition extracts are also available from the theatre office
About the Play
The play opens as a conflict has ended and with peace comes the opportunity for romance. There’s young love that a villain disrupts by deception and then there’s older love that must be rediscovered, also through trickery. Famous for the ‘merry war’ of Beatrice and Benedick, this play is a comedy but there is ‘much ado’ with accusations of betrayal and infidelity before pain and danger are overcome and love triumphs.
About the Production
As in all Shakespeare’s romantic comedies, Much Ado About Nothing blends light and dark. The production will be trying to strike a balance between its darker qualities of malice, villainy and deception and lighter ones of romance, humour and kindliness to make a production that is fast-paced, funny and sexy.
Shakespeare sets the play in a Sicily that in his day was a vassal state of Spain and regularly prone to rebellion. This production will have the same setting but advance the period to the 1950s when the island was (as it still is) dominated by Cosa Nostra and its masculine hierarchy and control. Personal and family honour, rank and status are central to the Mafia creed so when a power struggle within its leading family is patched up a time of apparent peace ensues but the vindictive forces have not gone away and seek to destroy attempts to find happiness.
The production is seeking roughly 17 actors and will be trying to achieve a gender balance in the cast. There will be doubling in the smaller roles to cover Messengers etc. Some parts will (almost) definitely be male or female but many could be played by any gender. Auditionees are encouraged to consider more than one role that might suit them. In the notes that follow the original names, titles and likely age-ranges are used for convenience but they should be treated as a guide only.
The production welcomes audition submissions from actors of any background and ethnicity. Interest from BAME actors is actively encouraged
MAJOR MALE ROLES : 200+ LINES
Don Pedro (Playing age 30-50) Capo dei capi, in Mafia terms, he is lord and controller of everyone except, it seems, his brother, Don John. Urbane, powerful and used to getting his own way, he can also use his authority whimsically, hence his plot to bring Beatrice and Benedick together. He is shocked when his plans go awry and dangerously angry when he thinks his trust has been abused. You feel he will not make the same mistake again and will certainly never marry himself. In 7 of 17 scenes.
Leonato (Playing age 50+) Don Pedro’s governor in Messina so a ranking member of the clan who defers to his boss but is very much head in his own house. Happy to have his daughter betrothed to Claudio because he is Don Pedro’s favoured man. Her apparent guilt at first makes him respond brutally to her before he changes his mind and stands up to Don Pedro. In 9 of 17 scenes.
Claudio (Playing age 20s) Follower of Don Pedro who did well in the recent conflict. He’s the juvenile romantic lead but it’s a problematic role as he is handsome, brave and innocent but also priggish, self-righteous and insensitive. He’s inexperienced in matters of love and will be led by convention and his elders. When believing he has been deceived he is cruel in his own defence but his pain and eventual remorse are genuine. In 8 of 17 scenes.
Benedick (Playing age 30-40) A well-respected follower of Don Pedro, self-professed bachelor and hater of women, especially Beatrice with whom he has verbal fights of wit and insult. His values are challenged when he learns of her love for him and he is also forced to question his allegiance to his lord. He is an attractive character, not above deceiving himself about his feelings but by eventually acknowledging this and changing he deserves the love of Beatrice. Nearly 400 lines; in 8 of 17 scenes.
MAJOR FEMALE ROLE 200+ LINES
Beatrice (Playing age 30-40) Leonato’s unmarried niece is an outsider in his house because she understands the role women are forced into in this male-dominated society and uses her sharp wit to escape the constraints placed on her. Benedick is her arch-enemy with whom she trades insults and usually wins. When she learns of his love for her she is forced to question her values which will eventually bring her deserved happiness, whilst still leaving room for doubt about whether she is right to give up her single life. In 7 of 17 scenes.
MIDDLING MALE ROLE : 100-200 LINES
Borachio (Playing age 30-40) A follower of Don John. Might be a drinker, certainly aggressively male. A nasty piece of work who initiates and carries out the plot to wreck the planned marriage of Claudio and Hero but who undergoes a slightly unlikely conversion at the end. In 8 of 17 scenes.
MIDDLING FEMALE ROLE : 100-200 lines
Hero (Playing age 20s) ‘Leonato’s short daughter’ and heir (so ideally not too tall) is the juvenile lead. A tricky role because she seems passively obedient to the demands of her father and her society but we need to see a stronger woman beneath her reserved demeanour so we can sympathise with her in her humiliation and suffering and applaud her attempts to defend herself. In 6 of 17 scenes.
MIDDLING MALE OR FEMALE ROLES : 100-200 lines
Don John/Donna Juana (Playing age 30s) Don Pedro’s sibling and the play’s villain, a misanthrope who sets out to make everyone as unhappy as he is. His resentment appears to stem from being in the leading family but a bastard – hence of doubtful status – though this fact is not mentioned until Act 4. I see him as resenting Don Pedro’s power and position and seeking to disrupt his role if he can’t displace him. In 6 of 17 scenes.
Dogberry (Playing age 30-50) The play’s comic redeemer, a bumbling self-important ‘constable’ who mangles the English language every time he opens his mouth. We laugh at his pomposity and incompetence but find satisfaction in this comical figure being the one who, with his staff, puts everything right when the important people could not. In 4 of 17 scenes.
SMALLER BUT SIGNIFICANT FEMALE ROLES : under 100 lines
Margaret (Playing age 30s) Servant in Leonato’s house and Hero’s maid who is attracted to Borachio. Fancies herself as bold and unconventional, she even takes on Beatrice briefly. Her relationship with Don John’s man brings big trouble. In 6 of 17 scenes.
Ursula (Playing age 30-50) Servant in Leonato’s house and Hero’s maid who helps with the plot to deceive Beatrice. In 6 of 17 scenes.
SMALLER BUT SIGNIFICANT MALE ROLE: under 50 lines
Verges (Playing age 60+) Assistant ‘constable’ to Dogberry, has more sense but less authority. In 5 of 17 scenes. I’d like to play him as rather ancient which will then offer the chance to double in an earlier brief comic role. In 5 of 17 scenes.
SMALLER BUT SIGNIFICANT MALE OR FEMALE ROLES: under 100 lines
Friar Francis/Francesca (Playing age 50+) The voice of calm and reason when everything is going pear-shaped. It is his plan that rescues the situation at first, allowing Dogberry etc the time to resolve matters. Quietly authoritative, decent. Will double as one of the Watch. In 3 of 17 scenes.
Antonio/a (Playing age 50s) Leonato’s sibling and junior – his consiglieri, in Mafia terms. Starts off a bit gullible, even foolish, but joins his brother in confronting Don Pedro in defence of his niece, Hero. Will double as one of the Watch. In 7 of 17 scenes.
Conrade/Constance (Playing age 30s) A follower of Don John and there are opportunities to create a sense of the relationship with him/her. In 8 of 17 scenes.
Balthasar/Bianca(?) (Playing age 20-30) Servant and follower of Don Pedro. Is scripted to sing a song though this is not essential. He will double in some messenger and other roles. In 4 of 17 scenes.
George/Georgina Seacoal (Playing age any) The Watchman/woman deputed to lead the group. Could either relish or fear this responsibility. In 4 of 17 scenes.
MUSICIANS: There are two songs and two dances in the play. The production would be interested in hearing from any musicians or actors with instrumental ability who would be interested in taking part. These might include a violinist or guitarist but there may well be other options such as flautist and saxophonist.