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Under Milk Wood

by Dylan Thomas


Director: Cassie Tillett

Contact details: cassie@tillett.org.uk / 07802 475110

Performance dates:  16-18, 22-25 July (including a matinee on 25 July) 2020


THE PLAY

Originally created as a 'play for voices', this beautiful and evocative piece describes a typical day in the life of the inhabitants of a small Welsh town. We meet the extraordinary characters and 'hear their dreams', getting to know their wishes and ways, their loves and desires, their happiness and their darker side. There's  great deal of humour and love alongside sadness, disappointment and occasionally downright sinister; the characters are familiar and supernatural, hilarious and tragic, disturbing and reassuring.


CASTING:  10 actors* - 5M/5F

If cast on a one-person-one-role basis, the play would involve a cast in excess of 45. This production will take a much simplified, stylised, multi-casting approach, involving five men and five women in the ensemble*. Each of the ten ensemble actors will play at least three named roles, plus several other un-named roles (e.g. children, gossiping women, fishermen and so on). Finally, all speeches allocated to the First Voice (the Second Voice is not shown separately in the script we'll be using) will be given to members of the ensemble. In other words, nobody will be off-stage for more than a few minutes at a time!


For audition purposes, I will be casting 5F/5M to play the following primary roles. Once these have been cast, the remainder of the roles will be allocated as appropriate to the performers. The other roles that actors will take on will be very different to those shown below, so prepare to be challenged with variety.


Polly Garter - 20s - loves nothing better than having babies, cares nothing for local gossip, warm and loving, cleans for the local wives

Rosie Probert - 30s - the ghost of Captain Cat's favourite lover in his youth. Gentle, lovable, representative of all that he has lost.

Myfanwy Price - 40s - house-proud, independent, 'natty as a jenny-wren', practical, self-contained.

Mrs Ogmore-Pritchard - 50s - formidable, obsessively clean, still controls and terrorises the ghosts of her two dead husbands

Mrs Pugh - 60s - knows perfectly well that her husband occupies his days  trying to fathom ways to murder her, enjoys criticising every single thing he does


Cherry Owen - 30s - a loving husband by day, an excessive drunkard by night, and his wife loves them both

Mog Edwards - 40s - the town draper, in love with Myfanwy Price in the abstract, but has no intention of doing anything about it beyond writing impassioned love letters every night

Mr Waldo - 50s - 'barber, herbalist, catdoctor, quack', drinker, lech, untroubled by conscience

Mr Pugh - 60s - downtrodden, fawning, underhand, balances Mrs Pugh (see above) to perfection

Revd Eli Jenkins - 70s - idealistic, poetic, musical, devout minister


The ages shown are very flexible. Obviously couples should be plausible - Mr & Mrs Pugh, Mr & Mrs Cherry Owen, Myfanwy Price & Mog Edwards, and so on - so casting will depend on combinations and chemistry as much as individual capability. In an ideal world, the above ranges would give a wide spread of ages to cover all roles. However, Mrs O-P might be a young widow; Rosie Probert might have died aged 20 or aged 50; Polly Garter simply needs to be of child-bearing age, and so on.  So please don't let any of these put you off auditioning! Far more important is that each actor is capable of playing a multitude of roles - say, a buttoned-up spinster, a small child, a gossiping neighbour and a flirtatious tart - as well as commenting on the action when taking the words of the First Voice.


*Please note: In addition to the ten ensemble players, the following two roles have been pre-cast:

The Voice of a Guide-Book: Selwyn Tillett and Captain Cat: David White

These two actors will not play any other roles.

ADDITIONAL SKILLS


Music: The characters of Rosie Probert, Polly Garter, Mr Waldo and Revd Eli Jenkins all have solo songs to sing. These are not in any sense 'professional' singers, but must be pleasant, tuneful and confident. Please note that there is also much ensemble music in the show, especially the Evening Hymn - led by Revd Eli Jenkins - and I would like the ensemble to provide the traditional harmonies for this very moving moment in the play. As such, all performers need some musical ability (to the level of 'can carry a tune in a bucket').


Accents: obviously this play is the very epitome of all things Welsh. However, Thomas commented that Laugharne (the real-life inspiration for Llareggub) was a peculiarly English town with few Welsh speakers. Coupled with the need for the play to be truthful and believable, without resorting to pastiche, I feel that the accent should be soft and understated. Having said that, we will obtain assistance to ensure that the voices are appropriate to the south coast of Wales.


REHEARSAL DETAILS

The show will require every member of cast at every rehearsal, with the possible occasional exception of Captain Cat. As such, rehearsals will be built  around the availability of the cast. Saturdays will not be used, nor Sunday mornings, but all other evenings and Sunday afternoons are possible. There will be three rehearsals per week for the first month, potentially increasing to four after we have got in to the Barn, and the usual commitment during tech, dress rehearsals and show weeks.


Rehearsals will begin w/c 18 May 2020; there may also be a couple of music rehearsals during the month before this, but this would be very flexible and occasional. A readthrough will be arranged as soon as possible after the play has been fully cast and the remaining characters allocated.


AUDITION DETAILS

Sunday 1 March 2020 at 7.30pm in the Barn

Please read the script before auditioning. It is easily available in many versions, also from the local library, and can be found online at https://limpidsoft.com/small/milkwood.pdf. (If you're buying a script, please ensure it's the one we'll be using - The Definitive Edition - as shown at the foot of these notes; if you're cast, we all need to be working from the same pagination!)

You don't need to be off-book for auditions (unless you want to!), but do ensure you are familiar enough with speeches to be able to deliver them with confidence and characterisation.

Please choose three short speeches (each a maximum of 1 minute long) from the play as follows:

o any character for which you would like to audition

o the First (or Second) Voice narrative

o one other character (not listed above)

Please be prepared to sing a short song if you are auditioning for Rosie Probert, Polly Garter, Mr Waldo or Revd Eli Jenkins. The style is essentially folk song / popular song, so anything from a nursery rhyme to a folk song would be great.

We will use simple musical rounds to try out vocal blending among the group. Don't panic - it will probably be no more difficult than London's Burning!


SCRIPT

Under Milk Wood: The Definitive Edition

Orion Books ISBN 9781780227245

(there are two versions available - the covers being multi-coloured with a girl's face, and blue with grey dots- both have the same pagination)