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When We Are Married

J.B. Priestley

25 Nov - 2 Dec 2017

Tony Bannister


Performances

Sat 7:45pm, Mon 7:45pm, Tue 7:45pm, Wed 7:45pm, Thu 7:45pm, Fri 7:45pm, Sat 2:45pm, Sat 7:45pm theatre

Synopsis

When We Are Married was first produced in the West End in 1938, and has continued to delight and entertain generations of theatregoers ever since. Set in 1908, in a medium sized town in the East Riding of Yorkshire, at the heart of the wool industry, it is a straightforward comedy about three solidly middle class couples who were all married on the same day in 1883 by the same clergyman in the same chapel, and who have gathered together to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary. However, they are about to receive a visit from a young music teacher bringing information which threatens to turn their prosperous and respectable lives upside down. When We Are Married is a meticulously crafted and beautifully observed comedy, populated by colourful and engaging characters, both male and female, offering wonderful opportunities for actors. More than that, however, it is a fascinating snapshot of the rigidly defined class system that prevailed in provincial towns in the immediate post-Victorian era, when industrial Britain was still at its most prosperous. In this production, as well as bringing out the best in the comedy, we will be concentrating on character development and delineation, and the creation of an authentic Edwardian atmosphere.

Audition

Audition Sat 5 August 2017 10:30am foyer

Characters

Alderman Joseph Helliwell (50s) A prosperous wool trader, who began his career as a lowly wool sorter and, with the help and support of his wife Maria, has worked hard to build a solid and prosperous business. He is rightly proud of his ascension to the middle class, and of his status as a pillar of the local community.

Mrs Maria Helliwell (50s) Maria married a young Joe Helliwell when she was a working class girl, and she has given him unfailing loyalty and support throughout their life together. She is now the undisputed head of their comfortable household.

Councillor Albert Parker (50s) Another prosperous wool trader. Acutely conscious of his status as a respectable businessman and town councillor. Unbearably pompous. Enjoys the sound of his own voice. Expects others to be mindful of their place in society and their obligation to do their duty, not least his wife, Annie.

Mrs Annie Parker (50s) The antithesis of Albert. Quiet and modest. As the play unfolds, however, she displays a strength of character and resolve that belies her outward appearance. Her accent is less pronounced than that of her contemporaries.

Herbert Soppitt (50s) A lifelong friend of Joe and Albert. A well regarded solicitor, but unassuming and not at all preoccupied by status or position. Nevertheless he proves himself to be calm, wise and trustworthy when faced with a crisis. His accent is less pronounced than that of his contemporaries.

Mrs Clara Soppitt (50s) The antithesis of Herbert. Loud, domineering and opinionated, but ultimately succumbs to her fondness for her husband.

Henry Ormanroyd (50s) A rich character role. An untidy, shambling photographer. Having lost his studio in Blackpool, he now shuffles from job to job, toting his camera and tripod wherever he goes. He is rather too fond of his drink and his cigars (neither of which he ever buys for himself). He is delighted when he meets up once again with his old friend Lottie Grady.

Miss Lottie Grady (50s) A wonderful character role. An old friend of Henry Ormanroyd. A former music hall artiste who now lives life for what it can offer her. Dyed hair, makeup and overdressed in a faded sort of way. She once met Joe, Albert and Herbert in Blackpool when they were at a weekend conference away from their wives. She claims Joe made her a promise he is now duty bound to honour! A northern lass, but not necessarily Yorkshire born.

Mrs Northrop (50s) Another rich character role. The Helliwells’ part time cleaner and cook. Proudly working class. Defiantly anarchic. Takes unconcealed delight from the dilemma that befalls her employers.

Ruby Birtle (teenage) The Helliwells’ live-in maid. An uncomplicated but mischievous girl from a Rotherham mining family.

Gerald Forbes (20s) A southerner, who speaks received English. A music teacher who has been employed at the local chapel as organist and choir master. Intelligent. In love with Nancy Holmes.

Nancy Holmes (early 20s) The Helliwells’ pretty young niece, who is living with them until a suitable husband comes along. Nancy feels she has found him in Gerald. It is unlikely, however, that her uncle and aunt would agree.

Fred Dyson (30s+) A reporter on the local newspaper. Bright and communicative.

Rev Clement Mercer (50s/60s) A local clergyman who has been asked, rather mischievously, by Mrs Northrop’s husband to offer his assistance. According to Mrs Northrop, “A gurt lion of a man.” Straight laced, precise and easily offended.

Information

If you would like a copy of the script, and a list of the audition pieces, or if you would like to talk in more detail about the production, please contact me on 07963 941001. (If I don’t pick up straight away, leave a message and I will get back to you). This will be the only audition. Anyone who wishes to audition, but is prevented from doing so due to a pre-booked holiday, should contact me to discuss the possibility of an earlier, individual reading. All characters apart from Gerald Forbes and possibly Lottie Grady will be required to speak with accurate East Riding accents, with no sliding west across the Pennines! Some dialect guidance will be available.