As You Like It – Audition

As You Like It

William Shakespeare

Director Alex Brinkman-Young

Dates – July 2020

Venue – University Parks

Set amongst the trees of University Parks, Oxford Theatre Guild, is pleased to announce their summer garden show: Shakespeare’s As You Like It.

Performance

The performance dates are still subject to negotiation.  We are aiming to be performing from Tuesday 7 to Saturday 18 July (with a matinee on the Saturday 11 July) or Tuesday 14 to Saturday 25 July (with the matinee on the 18th).

Get In/Technical/Dress Rehearsal (subject to confirmation) – Get-in will start on or before Saturday 4 July with the Tech on Sunday 5 July and the Dress Rehearsal on Monday 6 July or with the second set of dates, this will shift a week later to the period from Saturday 11 July to Monday 13 July.

Synposis

Rosalind and her cousin Ceilia are well-bred young ladies some time in the reign of George III who have perhaps read too many Romantic novels. Following a family row, they do what any young person with a Romantic sensibility would do and escape into the forest where they find Orlando, Rosalind's love. Disguised as a boy shepherd, Rosalind has Orlando woo her under the guise of "curing" him of his love for Rosalind. Rosalind reveals she is a girl and marries Orlando during a group wedding at the end of the play (think Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility). And while our production will be set in Regency England, its universal themes of love and redemption seem to resonate in any time period. Additionally, Rosalind is one of Shakespeare’s most active female parts - she drives the action of the play and is always a joy to explore as a director or actor. This production will highlight the brave, rebellious young women at the centre of the play. Finally, the idea of escape and the ability to use the surrounding trees and greenery of the parks as our set means this play is a natural fit for a summer garden show. 

About the director/the production team

A secondary school English teacher by day, I have been directing plays (mostly Shakespeare) for the past fifteen years, both in the US (where I am from and where I went to school) and in the UK (where I currently live with my husband, himself an avid producer and stage manager of a variety of shows - including OTG’s The Cherry Orchard this spring). My approach as a director is supportive and collaborative and I am very much looking forward to embarking on this escape to the Forest of Arden with OTG.

Important Dates

Launch Event

Sunday 19 January  - 3pm - 5pm, Summertown URC Main Hall

First Round auditions

Thursday 23 January – 7.30pm to 9.30pm, Summertown URC Main Hall

Sunday 26 January – 6pm to 8pm, Summertown URC Main Hall

Monday 27 January – 7.30pm to 9.30pm, TheVenue, Cowley

Recall auditions (by invitation only):

Saturday 1 February – 10.30pm to 12.30pm, TheVenue, Cowley

Sunday 2 February – 6pm to 8pm, Summertown URC Main Hall

Map to the URC

Roles available

Duke Frederick (M - playing age 50+) has usurped (he might say ‘forcibly inherited’) a large English country estate from his older brother Duke Senior and is Celia’s father. Volatile and prone to cruel outbursts. 

Rosalind (F - playing age 18-late 20s) has been allowed to stay on in her former home as a companion to her cousin Celia. With a keen imagination and love of novels, she feels things deeply is desperate for an adventure like the ones she reads about in novels and to take control of her own destiny. When she disguises herself as Ganymede—a handsome young man—and offers herself as a tutor in the ways of love to her beloved Orlando, Rosalind is both aware of the foolishness of romantic love and delighted to be in love. She teaches those around her to think, feel, and love better than they have previously, she is wise beyond her years. 

Celia (F - playing age 16-mid 20s) looks up to her older cousin and loves her immensely. A bit more naive and of a more nervous disposition, yet she overcomes these hurdles to follow Rosalind into the forest, disguising herself to look like one of the simple shepherdess she has read so many pastoral poems about. Celia possesses a loving heart, but is prone to deep, almost excessive emotions (very much the Marianne to Rosalind’s Elinor) 

Touchstone (M/F - playing age flexible) is the amusingly loveable (albeit slightly embarrassing and bawdy) ‘country cousin’ the poor relation of Rosalind and Celia’s who loyally follows them into the forest - either a Miss Bates type or other comedic character.   

Orlando (M - playing age 20-30s) is the youngest son of Sir Rowland de Bois, a neighboring English aristocrat and younger brother of Oliver. Under his brother’s neglectful care, he has been denied a gentleman’s education or training. Regardless, he considers himself to have great potential, and his victorious battle with Charles proves him right. Orlando cares for the aging Adam in the Forest of Ardenne and later risks his life to save Oliver from a hungry lioness, proving himself a proper English gentleman.

Oliver (M- playing age 20s-30s) is the oldest son of Sir Rolwand de Bois and the sole inheritor of his estate. He hates his younger brother - seemingly without cause or reason. Yet when Orlando saves his life in the forest he is prompted to change himself to become a better, more loving person and the brothers reconcile. 

Duke Senior (M - playing age 50+)  The father of Rosalind and the rightful owner of the estate. Having been banished by his usurping brother, Frederick, Duke Senior now lives in exile in the pastoral Forest of Arden with a number of loyal men, including Lord Amiens and Jaques. Content in the forest, he seems to enjoy living the life of a Romantic poet in the idyllic surroundings, yet misses his daughter and home. 

Jacques (M/F-playing age 20 + and needs to be able to play an instrument, ideally handheld) A faithful friend who accompanies Duke Senior into exile in the Forest of Ardenne. He often stands on the sidelines, watching and judging the actions of the other characters without ever fully participating. Given his inability to participate in life, it is fitting that Jaques alone refuses to follow Duke Senior and the other courtiers back to court, and instead resolves to assume a solitary and contemplative life, the ultimate Romantic (but slightly cynical) poet.

Silvius (M - playing age 18-30) A young, suffering shepherd, who is desperately in love with the disdainful Phoebe. Conforming to the model of Petrarchan love, Silvius prostrates himself before a woman who refuses to return his affections. In the end, however, he wins the object of his desire.

Phoebe (F - playing age 18-30) A young shepherdess, who disdains the affections of Silvius. She falls in love with Ganymede, who is really Rosalind in disguise, but Rosalind tricks Phoebe into marrying Silvius.

Lord Amiens (M/F - playing age 20 +)   A faithful lord who accompanies Duke Senior into exile in the Forest of Ardenne. Lord Amiens is rather jolly and loves to sing, in contrast with Jacques’s demeanor. 

Charles (M - playing age 20 +)  A professional wrestler in Duke Frederick’s household. Charles demonstrates both his caring nature and his political savvy when he asks Oliver to intercede in his upcoming fight with Orlando: he does not want to injure the young man and thereby lose favor among the nobles who support him. Charles’s concern for Orlando proves unwarranted when Orlando beats him senseless.

Adam (M - 70 +) he elderly former servant of Sir Rowland de Bois. Having witnessed Orlando’s hardships, Adam offers not only to accompany his young master into exile but to fund their journey with the whole of his modest life’s savings. He is a model of loyalty and devoted service.

Sir Rowland De Bois (M - 60 +) he is the father of Oliver and Orlando, friend of Duke Senior, and enemy of Duke Frederick. Upon Sir Rowland’s death, the vast majority of his estate was handed over to Oliver according to the custom of primogeniture.

Corin (M/F - 40 +) A shepherd. Corin attempts to counsel his friend Silvius in the ways of love, but Silvius refuses to listen.

Audrey (F - 16+) A simple and uneducated, straight talking goatherd who is wooed by Touchstone and William. 

William (M - 16 +) A young country boy who is in love with Audrey. 

The playing ages and genders  are indicative rather than prescriptive – you don't need to limit yourself because of the numbers or gender and please let us know at auditions which roles you would like to be considered for. As the RSC and Globe have done in the past few years, I welcome the possibility of gender-blind casting. 

Feel free to audition in your natural accent (especially as we really don’t know what  people over 200 years ago sounded like, but they were unlikely to sound like a BBC annoncer!) 

If you have specific questions about the characters and what is involved, please contact the director at alex.brinkmanyoung@gmail.com and she will be happy to help.

Launch Event

On Sunday 19 January, there will be a launch event for the production at Summertown URC between 3pm and 5pm. The event is open to anyone interested in getting involved in the production – whether on stage or as part of the production team.

After a brief presentation about the play, the production team and how it will all work, you will have plenty of time to ask any questions you may have.

If you can't make it and still want to ask questions, please email alex.brinkmanyoung@gmail.com and she will be happy to answer any questions you may have. 

Audition Process

There will be 3 first round auditions and then recalls by invitation only.

In the first round, I will ask you to read a monologue and possibly a duologue (with other actor or reader) from another Sheakepeare play, you are also welcome to come with any Shakespearen pieces you already have prepared as long as they are not from As You Like It. I will then give you a few notes and I will ask you to take these on board and perform the piece/s again. 

The entire process should take about 10-15 minutes. 

You will not be required to prepare anything in advance – the texts will be available in the room. Our aim is to assess your potential rather than to immediately consider you for specific characters.

It will be a relaxed and informal process – so please try not to get too anxious. Easier said than done, of course!

If invited to the recalls, you will be sent a small number of scenes from As You Like It to look at. You won’t be required to learn them – just become familiar with them. This is the point that we will be looking at specific characters and combinations. Seeing different combinations of actors is one of the key aims of the recall process, exploring the chemistry in all the key relationships.

We will be aiming to timetable this to enable us to see as many combinations as we can – and, of course, give you as much time as possible to shine.

It is important to note that we may not be recalling for every role. So not hearing about recalls does not mean that you are out of contention.

Accessibility concerns

If you have any specific needs with regards to access or any other issues, please do get in contact with us (simon.tavener@oxfordtheatreguild.com) and we will help if we can.

What if I can’t make those dates and times?

If you are interested in auditioning, but are unable to come to any of the given dates, please contact the director at  alex.brinkmanyoung@gmail.com and we will try to see you at another time, if possible.

It would be helpful if you could bring a completed audition form, but forms will also be available at the auditions.

All OTG auditions are run according to the OTG audition policy and harassment policy.

Rehearsals

Rehearsals will start with a readthrough and costume measurement session in April. We will then have a second meeting to discuss the setting of the play, the historical background and the characters. Rehearsals will start in earnest in May. 

Rehearsal days will be Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons and the rehearsals will usually take place in the URC Main hall in Summertown.

The schedule will start with 2/3 sessions per week moving to 4 as the production gets closer. Of course, not everyone will be called to every rehearsal - we will do our best to accommodate your existing commitments as we plan the schedule.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch – alex.brinkmanyoung@gmail.com