by Tanya Ronder
Simona Hughes joined the Tower in 2002, during its last year in its
former Canonbury home, and has since served on the company committee and acted in some 13 productions, including
Absent Friends, The Lady from the Sea, Julius Caesar, Dinner, Her Naked Skin, Baba Shakespeare and
Comic Potential. Simona has directed Little Nell, Bronë and Love, Love, Love
for the Tower. She has also directed a short play at Theatre503, as part of the Rapid Write Response Series and another
short play at the Bread and Roses.
Simona is midway through completing a 2 year MFA in Advanced Theatre Practice at the Royal Central School of
Speech and Drama.
The director writes :
Table is an epic tale of belonging, identity and the things we pass on, spanning 115 years of family life. A multi-generational story of love, conflict and emotional inheritance, Tanya Ronda's brilliant ensemble piece requires nine performers to play 23 parts over six generations of a family!
The dining "table" at the centre of the play belongs to the Best family, and over the course of the action we witness it passed down through six generations, from the time when a Lichfield carpenter called David Best made it to celebrate his marriage in 1898, via Tanganyika in the 1950s and a hippie commune in Herefordshire in the 1960s right up to 2013 when a modern, fractured family of their descendants sit round it.
I am looking for actors with considerable range, who can offer clarity in telling this complicated story and who are able to work creatively and collaboratively to find solutions to some of the exciting challenges offered by this script. The rehearsal process will start with an intensive weekend of devising and team building to strengthen the ensemble. This production will also have input from Ruth Sullivan working on Movement.
The characters are :
Playing ages are provided as a guide. Ages are ideal ages and may be adjusted proportionally, dependent on casting choices. If there is a part you wish to audition for but feel you do not meet the playing age audition anyway or contact the Director to discuss matters prior to the auditions.
Gideon/Jack (Male, playing age 30s/40s)
Gideon is a passionate, wilful man, who has been scarred by a very disrupted childhood. His character journeys from being a 6 year-old child, the son of Sarah, born in a convent in Tanganyika (present day Tanzania), becoming a 13 year old confused and vulnerable boy living with his mother in a 1960s Commune, then a passionate, romantic 19 year old student, then a very angry, bereaved 30 year old man and finally a humbled and wise 62 year-old estranged grandfather who wants to make peace. Requires an actor with considerable range, and a good singing voice.
Jack is a colonial "big cat hunter" in Tanganyika who appears out of nowhere and dramatically changes the course of Sarah's life. He is courteous with Sarah and in a later scene shows noble restraint when his desire to make contact with his son is refused.
Sarah/Elizabeth (Female, playing age 20s/30s)
A superb role, also requiring an actor with considerable depth and range.
We first meet Sarah as an 8 year-old, playing with her twin brother Albert in attempt to escape the poisonous atmosphere between their parents. Later as a 30 year-old woman she is strong, proud and single-minded. She is also a "devout" nun, however a chance encounter with Jack changes everything for her. Later as a 44 year-old living in a commune, she has become guarded and emotionally stunted as a mother to her 13 year old son.
David/Julian(40s) (Male, playing age 40s)
David bookends the play, as the maker of the table, a "perfectionist" craftsman who suffers the tragic loss of his first child and then his wife.
Julian is one of the lead figures at the Herefordshire commune we meet him first in 1964 and then in 1981. Julian spreads his love freely, as part of his "emancipation from social norms", causing damage, hurt and rage along the way. He becomes a figure of hatred for 30 year old Gideon. In many ways the polar opposite of David, who has a quiet dignity, Julian is often ridiculous and requires an actor who can mine all the humour possible from the 'commune scenes'.
Finlay/Anthony/Chris (Male, playing age 30/40s)
Two beautifully contrasting roles for an actor with good range.
Finlay - Lost and abandoned by his mother dying when he was 6 years old and a father more comfortable with woodwork than family, Finlay volunteers to fight in WW1, and returns traumatised by the trenches. His doomed marriage to Margaret results in the twins Albert and Sarah and an atmosphere of constant conflict, as he goads her with constant reference to his sexual hunger and infidelities.
Anthony - Son of Gideon and Michelle, we meet him both aged 9 and as 30 year-old father of Su liu (fathered with his partner Ben, who we don't meet), likable, insecure and placatory, eager to please his estranged father, and a patient, calm father to his own lively 10 year old daughter.
Michelle/Mother Superior/Barbara (12 yrs) (Female playing age 40s/50s)
Michelle - Strong, wise, loving mother and grandmother, suspicious of her Ex, Gideon, re-entering their lives, she has a fantastic scene with Gideon right at the end of the play in which she unleashes a lifetime's worth of resentment towards him, which ultimately results in her softening and allowing him to take a place once again in the family.
Mother Superior is an Irish, 40-something nun, stern and severe on the outside, but we suspect big hearted underneath, she is forced to make difficult choices.
Barbara is one of the girls at the commune.
Su-liu/Sister Ruth (Female paying age early 20s, Chinese/South East Asian heritage.)
Su Liu is a happy, lively and bright 10 year old-girl, with 2 adoring dads and a devoted grandmother. She is quick to detect and dispel tension in the room with her playful presence. Requires an actor of with a strong singing voice.
Sister Ruth is one of the young nuns in the convent in Tanzania.
Margaret/Sister Babette/Aisha (15 yrs) (Female- playing age 30s)
Margaret meets and seduces Finlay at his father's funeral, little realising what she is taking on with his trauma from the war. After the birth of the twins and the years of his drink and lechery she becomes a bitter and brittle woman, prompting her daughter to become a nun and her son to become as embittered and deranged as his father.
Albert/Orion (40s) (Male playing age 30s/40s)
Albert is less strong than his twin sister Sarah, and suffers the consequences of his parents miserable marriage more, never escaping home but left nursing his father. We first meet him aged 8 playing under the table with Sarah, then later as a 26 year old embittered man, nursing his now paralysed father, he is deemed too "indispensable" at home to fight in WW2, and is forced to give up any ambitions of his own.
Orion is a kind and positive figure in the commune, who generally tries to keep the piece, but also shows more moral integrity than the others in challenging Stacey's predatory behaviour.
Sister Hope/Stacey (40s)/Veronique (Female playing age 20s, Black Afro-Caribbean heritage.)
Hope is a kind and loving nun and a loyal friend to Sarah, she teaches her Swahili and later supports her as a mother. Hope becomes fiercely attached to young Gideon, to the point of challenging her Mother Superior, she is heart-broken when Sarah and Gideon leave for England.
Stacey is a woman at the commune who completely lacks moral fibre, exploiting 13 year old Gideon in a desperate attempt to arouse Julian's jealousy.
Veronique is a prostitute, and Finlay's preferred lover.
Please read the script before auditioning : a copy of the script can be obtained from the Tower Office. It is a very fragmented read, and takes a while to make sense on the page, but it is important that you have an overview. Here's list of extracts to be used at the auditions :
- Michelle, Anthony and Su-Lin : Page 16 from Michelle's "Alright?" to bottom of Page 18
- David and Finlay : Page 19 from David's "Mrs Fowler brought this round" to Page 20 Flinlay's "You were too busy making your furniture.
- Margaret and Finlay : Page 23, from Margaret's "What were the nurses like...?"
- Margaret, Sarah and Albert : Page 27 from Albert's "Let's play the game..." to page 29 Sarah's "please don't hurt Albert..."
- Albert, Sarah and Finlay : Page 40 from Sarah's "The house looks nice" to Page 42 Albert's "So don't come here judging me"
- Jack and Sarah : Page 52 from Jack's "Excuse me sister" to end of scene, page 54
- Mother Superior, Hope , Babette and Gideon : from Page 57 Hope's "Mother is something troubling you? " to Page 58 Gideon's "What's everyone saying?"
- Hope, Sarah and Gideon : from P62 Hope's "Stay! We can find somewhere..." to end of scene page 63
- Julian, Stacey, Aisha, Gideon, Sarah, Orion : Page 75, from Orion's "You want the stone, Gideon?" to bottom of P76 Julian's "I thought everyone understood the rules of play".
- Michelle and Gideon : Page 101 from Michelle's "I don't care if you can take it..." to page 103 Michelle's "It's too late, Gideon".
- Su-Lin and Gideon : Page 106 From Su-Lin "That?" Gideon "What, the sparkly bits?" to Gideon's "Boo hoo"
We are looking for the following :
Assistant Stage Manager
If you are interested in any of these roles or in being involved in the show in any other capacity please contact the Director, Simona Hughes.