|Audition Notice||Rules for Living||
by Sam Holcroft
John Chapman has appeared in/directed over 150 productions and relishes an onstage technical challenge (he once directed Man Of The Moment which featured a full size swimming pool!) such as the one provided by Rules For Living. Somewhat of a "latecomer" to Tower Theatre he debuted as Mr Micawber in David Copperfield (2012) and has since been in another dozen Tower productions; most recently these were To Kill A Mockingbird, Wolf Hall and Kafka's Dick playing a "baddie" in all three. In 2016 he had the honour to play Bottom at both the Barbican and Royal Shakespeare Theatre in the RSC/Tower production of A Midsummer Night's Dream : A Play For The Nation and is currently rehearsing for more Shakespeare performances in the London/Paris production of The Merry Wives of Windsor.
His first Tower directing job was with Bedroom Farce in 2017 which was very positively reviewed. Now, apparently, the Tower Theatre is going to trust him again and so he is looking forward to settling into the director's chair with this highly challenging but deeply rewarding comedy about modern life.
The director writes :
Rules For Living is a seasonal family tale of disharmony, ruined expectations, overindulgence, a manic board game called "Bedlam!" and some of life's little coping mechanisms. Let the festivities commence!
The play was first produced at the National Theatre in 2015 and was a sell-out success. Although this is a modern comedy, it is a very dark one which I know will be a great deal of fun to rehearse and perform. The author has structured the piece using the theories behind CBT or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.* The characters all have issues of varying visibility which they cover up with coping strategies. This means they exhibit quirks of repetitive behaviour which highlight their anxieties although these are not necessarily recognised or acknowledged by other characters. If all this sounds a bit heavy - well, it isn't; it is actually hilarious. The dialogue cracks along with lots of zinging ripostes and, of course, being set at Christmas the anxiety which surrounds family gatherings at that time of year is well to the fore. The audience is privy to what's really going on by means of the electronic scoreboard which dominates the set (yes, that is what I wrote). As the play crescendos the family relationships systematically break down and there is a literally riotous finale.
Performers who enjoy physical and verbal comedy, who are up for a challenge and want to try their hand at something completely different will enjoy what this production has to offer.
The characters are :
Playing ages indicative only.
Edith (60s) : Mum. Anxious about everything but especially her family. She plans meticulously and probably suffers from OCD. Her coping strategy is constantly cleaning/tidying
Francis (70s) : Dad. A real challenge as he has no actual dialogue (but plenty of vocalisation). Though confined to a wheelchair after suffering a post-operative stroke he still remains a dominating force. Given that the role of Francis is without actual dialogue, "auditionees" are asked to do some preliminary research and then talk through their ideas about how they might approach the role with the director.
Adam (40s) : Elder son. Finds it difficult to commit to anything, including his family. Once had ambitions to be a pro cricketer but bottled it. His coping strategy is using mockery and silly accents
Sheena (40s) : Adam's wife. A strong- willed, (not so) closet alcoholic frustrated by her husband and concerned about her daughter. She finds it difficult to back down; her coping strategy is fairly obvious
Matthew (30s) : Younger son. He carries a torch for his sister-in-law and has a shaky relationship with his current girlfriend. He failed to go into acting when younger. His coping strategy is over eating
Carrie (30s) : Matthew's erstwhile girlfriend. An actress, she is understandably nervous at meeting/ "being auditioned by" the family. She copes by cracking inappropriate jokes and becoming increasingly brash
Emma (14) : Adam and Sheena's daughter. Riddled with low self-esteem she doesn't want to interact with others. However, she copes more successfully than the so-called adults (this is a small but important role)
Please ensure you read through (and, equally importantly, try to envisage) the play before auditioning. It is published by Nick Hern Books and can probably be borrowed through a library service (ISBN 978 84842 469 2). A reading copy is available in the Tower Office.
We are looking for the following :
Assistant Stage Manager(s)
If you are interested in any of these roles or in being involved in the show in any other capacity please contact the Director, John Chapman.