Swallows and Amazons


Swallows & Amazons

adapted by Helen Edmundson from the book by Arthur Ransom


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 jez.pike@maddermarket.org

Director: Jez Pike    Production Dates:  Fri 18th Aug – Sat 2nd Sept.

Performance Schedule:

Please note that this is a longer run than usual Norwich Players productions. It also contains many more matinees. As our major Summer Family show, it replicates the type of run common to the Christmas show, and therefore requires similar availability and energy!

There are 7pm performances on Friday, Saturdays and Wednesdays.                                    There are 2pm performances on Saturdays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. There are 4pm performances on Sundays.                                                                                        There are no performances on Mondays.

Rehearsal Dates:  From Tues 4th July. Four nights a week plus weekend session – normally Sunday mornings. Cast will be given schedule indicating rehearsals they are called for.


There will be different kinds of auditions for different parts. They are split between the ‘children’ (i.e. John, Susan, Titty, Roger, Peggy & Nancy) and the ‘adults’ (i.e. Mother, Captain Flint and the multi-roles).

Please look carefully at the dates and options.


Auditions for the ‘children’

1st Round

This audition will be one-to-one with the director. It will consist of reading a short extract, singing a short song with the director which you will be taught on the day and doing a simple imagination exercise.

Option A:Tues 25 April: 6.00-9.30pm – Location tbc, won’t be at The Maddermarket.

Option B:Sat 29 April: 10am-1pm – The Maddermarket

2nd Round

This audition will be in groups. It will consist of imagination games, a devising exercise and singing as a group.

Option A:Sun 7th May: 10am-1pm – The Maddermarket

Option B:Sat 13th May: 5.30-8.30pm – The Maddermarket


Please note all auditionees for the ‘Child’ parts must in principle be able to make at least one of the recall dates.


Auditions for the ‘adults’

There is just one round of auditions set for these parts. Please note however, that should a further audition be required an additional date will be mutually agreed.

You are asked to prepare:

• An extract which you will read with the director and which will be provided in advance.

• You will also be asked to sing a short song with the director which you will be taught on the day.


Option A:Wed 3rd May: 6.00-9.30pm – The Maddermarket

Option B:Sun 7th May: 5.30pm-8.30pm – The Maddermarket





If you are absolutely not able to make an audition date but want to be seen please still email jez.pike@maddermarket.org It cannot be guaranteed that you will be accomodated due to limited available time and space, but every effort will be made.


How to sign-up: Please email jez.pike@maddermarket.org with the following information; Your name, email address and phone number. Specify which part/s you are auditioning for, and the audition date/s you are available to attend. You will then be contacted via email with an allotted time-slot.Extracts to prepare for each role can be collected from the theatre office or emailed to you on request.


About the Play

When John, Susan, Titty and Roger are granted their wish to set sail on their beloved boat Swallow, they know it will be the summer holiday of a lifetime. But their adventure truly begins when they encounter Nancy and Peggy, the self-proclaimed Amazon Pirates, and the dastardly Captain Flint.

Arthur Ransome’s famous and much-loved children’s classic is brought to thrilling life for the stage in Helen Edmundson’s wonderfully theatrical adaptation, with delightfully catchy’ (Telegraph) songs by Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy.

This critically acclaimed adaptation was first performed at the Bristol Old Vic in 2010, before transferring to the West End in a co-production with the National Theatre the following year. It has since been performed by regional theatres across the country.

About the Production

Music is a big part of Helen Edmundson’s adaptation, but it’s not a musical. It is best described as a ‘play with songs’. The style is lively, inventive and generous storytelling perfect for a multi-skilled ensemble cast. The production will aim to stay true to the magical innocence of the book, whilst enjoying the witty, contemporary energy of Edmundson’s script and Hannon’s songs. It will be a production in which feather dusters turn into parrots, old trunks turn into sailing boats and the collective imagination of the performers and the audience create an adventure.

Rehearsals will embrace devising techniques and experimentation. Experience of working in this way may be useful, but is not at all essential. An attitude of being prepared to give anything a go is. Actors will be asked to bring an open-mind, willingness to problem solve and unlock ideas, an infectious sense of mischief…and above all their inner child! Casting will focus on creating a generous ensemble of collaborators committed to having fun.

Cast Breakdown (10: 5M, 5F)

All parts are for actors 18 and above.

The Maddermarket is committed to equal opportunities casting. The production actively encourages interest from actors of all backgrounds and abilities.


Singing requirements:These parts all sing a number of songs. Titty has solos. Actors for all these parts need to be pretty confident singers. You don’t need to be polished; lots of time in rehearsals will be spent working on the songs and building up confidence. A good ear and experience of singing on stage in some capacity is essential.

Instrumental requirements: Actors for the child roles do not need to be able to play an instrument. A sense of rhythm would be useful, as rehearsals may explore basic use of percussion instruments. This is not essential however.

Playing age: Children in the production are played by adults. All child roles are aimed at adults aged between 18 and early 30’s.

The Swallows

TITTY WALKER: One of the Walker children. Aged 9. Titty represents the imaginative core of the story. It is her poetic, romantic instinct that transforms a holiday of messing about into boats into exotic adventure. She longs to be like Robinson Crusoe and is a natural dreamer. Sensitive, empathetic, impulsive and with a rebellious streak, she’s not averse to the occasional sulk when mundane reality gets in the way. Sings solo. 

JOHN WALKER: One of the Walker children. Aged 12. The eldest and Captain of the Swallow. Takes his role as chief sailor and leader seriously. Keen to emulate his naval captain father. Knows all the useful things a boy should know; how to make dens, fires, knots etc. More of a doer, less of a thinker. Competitive and proud, which can lead to him being a risk-taker. His journey is one of discovering the challenges of being a leader and in doing so he takes his first steps towards manhood.

SUAN WALKER: One of the Walker children. Aged 11. First mate of the Swallow. Wise, practical, cautious; the ‘mother’ of the group. For her the chief attractive of camping is to create her own home and family. A willing and able cook, her hero is Mrs Beeton. Loves to organise and make lists. The crew would be at a loss without her. John’s loyal second in command, but less inclined to be hot-headed than her brother.

ROGER WALKER: One of the Walker children. Aged 7 – the youngest. Impressionable, innocent, hyperactive and open to all adventure. Really enjoys shouting! Excitedly discovering new things every day…like learning how to whistle! More self-reliant than his elder siblings necessarily give him credit. Naturally has more in common with Titty than John and Susan. Constantly thinking about eating.

The Amazons

The Blackett are the self-proclaimed ‘Amazon pirates’ after the Amazonian female warriors. Feisty, confident, and a little wilder than the Walker children. A tight-knit formidable duo but not averse to squabbling. They have a fearsome and very catchy war song.

NANCY BLACKETT Captain of the Amazon. Doesn’t hold back in criticising her sister and has an inventive vocabulary of playful insults. Direct and rather more focused that Peggy, Nancy is much better at staying ‘in character’ in their games. A bit bossy.

PEGGY BLACKETT Master of the Amazon. Slightly less inclined to war than her sister (only just). She tends to say too much and get distracted. A little scatter-brained. Can give as good as she gets when her sister has a go at her.


Well-formed and richly characterised cameo roles, these adults parts form an appealing challenge for any actor who enjoys playing multiple roles, with only a modest amount of lines to learn. When not playing a character the adult roles will help manipulate and transform props and scenery. An ability to carry a tune, and join in simple percussive instrumentation would be useful for these parts, but is not essential.

Playing age: The adult roles are aimed at performers aged 35-55.

CAPTAIN FLINT & PIRATE 2 The Blackett sister’s uncle. A rather impressive, slightly bohemian writer who lives on a houseboat. This summer he’s trying to finish his book and doesn’t want to be disturbed. Short-tempered and blunt he initially comes across as a mean and cruel pirate captain with a natural authority. Turns out to be an eccentric over-grown boy with a great sense of fun. Features prominently in the last third of the play. Pirate 2: One of two ‘real’ pirates that appear to Titty in a dream. Rough scheming sea-dog, larger than life and a little scary. Small cameo role. Needs to be able to sing as the pirate – doesn’t have to be brilliant, as can be in a rough ‘pirate’ tone.

MOTHER & CHARCOAL BURNER 1 Mother: The Walker children’s mother. Kindly, loving, proud of her children. A little worried about the dangers they might face but tries her hardest not to let on. Stoic in the face of her husband being away, and spending much of her holiday with a new born baby. Enjoys playing along with her children’s games, like assuming the role of ‘Queen Isabella’. / Charcoal Burner 1: One of the two slightly mysterious charcoal burners, full of folk wisdom and the feeling of ancient ways.  Kindly but a little strange. Both nice cameo roles, with only modest amount of lines.

MR. JACKSON/POLICEMAN/CHARCOAL BURNER 2/PIRATE 1 Mr. Jackson: Local farmer who acts as a helping hand to the Walker family and their mother (this generally involves him lugging supplies about for the children’s adventures). A man of few words, he’s gruff but kindly. Policeman: A proper old-school policeman. Severe, ‘by the book’ and a little pompous. Disapproving of these young rapscallions. Charcoal Burner 2: One of the two slightly mysterious charcoal burners, full of folk wisdom and the feeling of ancient ways.  Pirate 1: One of two ‘real’ pirates that appear to Titty in a dream. Rough scheming sea-dog, larger than life and a little scary. Needs to be able to sing as the pirate – doesn’t have to be brilliant, as can be in a rough ‘pirate’ tone.                                 

Accents:Strictly-speaking the Charcoal Burner 1 & 2 and Mr. Jackson should have Cumbrian accents as the story is set in the Lake District. However, Cumbrian is a notoriously difficult accent to master, so a decent stab at Yorkshire/Lancashire will suffice. Help will be provided in rehearsals if needed.