by Bernard Shaw
Emilia Teglia first came across the Tower Theatre in the cold winter of 1999 when she attended her first ever British Pantomime, Aladdin. She has been a keen audience member for nearly 15 years before finding the courage to jump on the creative wagon as Assistant Stage Manager for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead in 2014. Things moved swiftly and in September 2015 she was Assistant Director on The Priory, and the following year she directed Cooking With Elvis. When she isn't making theatre at Tower, Emilia makes a living as a freelance theatre director, playwright and theatre development consultant.
The director writes :
Pygmalion both delighted and scandalized its first audiences in 1914. Over one hundred years after it was written, its universally familiar characters, the egomaniac professor, the sassy flower girl and the drunkard philosopher, continue to stir roars of bitter-sweet laughter from audiences across the world.
Cultural barriers to social mobility and gender inequalities are the central themes that make this play timeless. Stylistically, its uniqueness lies in its traditional Farce structure set against the characters' complexity which leans more towards naturalism. The seemingly clear-cut world of the play is a human clockwork held together by the unique personalities of its inhabitants. Ultimately, Eliza's bold act of independence will upset the status quo in a modern Cinderella tale that convincingly mirrors the huge historical shift of England's social pattern at the onset of the Great War.
Pygmalion remains Bernard Shaw's most popular play. The widest audiences know it as the inspiration for the highly romanticized 1956 musical and 1964 Hollywood film My Fair Lady.
The characters are :
Playing ages given below are for guidance and are not determinative. If you wish to audition for a role but feel you are not the right playing age please either audition in any event or contact the director prior to the audition.
Some roles require doubling. Previous experience performing multi-roles is an advantage but by no means a strict requirement.
Bi-lingual speakers in English and any other second language are also invited to apply. Must be fluent in English. If this applies to you, please mention it in on your audition form.
Professor Henry Higgins (35 - 45) : Henry Higgins is a professor of phonetics who plays Pygmalion to Eliza Doolittle's Galatea. He is the author of Higgins' Universal Alphabet, believes in concepts like visible speech, and uses all manner of recording and photographic material to document his phonetic subjects, reducing people and their dialects into what he sees as readily understandable units. He is an unconventional man, who goes in the opposite direction from the rest of society in most matters. Indeed, he is impatient with high society, forgetful in his public graces, and poorly considerate of normal social niceties - the only reason the world has not turned against him is because he is at heart a good and harmless man. His biggest fault is that he can be a bully.
Eliza Doolittle (18 -25) : "She is not at all a romantic figure." So is she introduced in Act I. Everything about Eliza Doolittle seems to defy any conventional notions we might have about the romantic heroine. When she is transformed from a sassy, smart-mouthed kerbstone flower girl with deplorable English, to a (still sassy) regal figure fit to consort with nobility, it has less to do with her innate qualities as a heroine than with the fairy-tale aspect of the transformation myth itself. In other words, the character of Eliza Doolittle comes across as being much more instrumental than fundamental. The real (re-)making of Eliza Doolittle happens after the ambassador's party, when she decides to make a statement for her own dignity against Higgins' insensitive treatment. This is when she becomes, not a duchess, but an independent woman; and this explains why Higgins begins to see Eliza not as a mill around his neck but as a creature worthy of his admiration.
Colonel Pickering (40 -55) : Pickering, the author of Spoken Sanskrit, is a match for Higgins (although somewhat less obsessive) in his passion for phonetics. But where Higgins is a boorish, careless bully, Pickering is always considerate and a genuinely gentleman. He says little of note in the play, and appears most of all to be a civilized foil to Higgins' barefoot, absentminded crazy professor. He helps in the Eliza Doolittle experiment by making a wager of it, saying he will cover the costs of the experiment if Higgins does indeed make a convincing duchess of her. However, while Higgins only manages to teach Eliza pronunciations, it is Pickering's thoughtful treatment towards Eliza that teaches her to respect herself.
Alfred Doolittle (50-55) [doubling] : Alfred Doolittle is Eliza's father, an elderly but vigorous dustman who has had at least six wives and who "seems equally free from fear and conscience." His unique brand of rhetoric, an unembarrassed, unhypocritical advocation of drink and pleasure, is amusing to Higgins. Through Higgins' joking recommendation, Doolittle becomes a richly endowed lecturer to a moral reform society, transforming him from lowly dustman to a picture of middle class morality--he becomes miserable. Throughout, Alfred is a scoundrel who is willing to sell his daughter to make a few pounds, but he is one of the few unaffected characters in the play, unmasked by appearance or language. Though scandalous, his speeches are honest. At points, it even seems that he might be Shaw's voice piece of social criticism (Alfred's proletariat status, given Shaw's socialist leanings, makes the prospect all the more likely).
Mrs. Higgins [Professor Higgins' mother] (60) : Mrs. Higgins is a stately lady in her sixties who sees the Eliza Doolittle experiment as idiocy, and Higgins and Pickering as senseless children. She is the first and only character to have any qualms about the whole affair. When her worries prove true, it is to her that all the characters turn. Because no woman can match up to his mother, Higgins claims, he has no interest in dallying with them. To observe the mother of Pygmalion (Higgins), who completely understands all of his failings and inadequacies, is a good contrast to the mythic proportions to which Higgins builds himself in his self-estimations as a scientist of phonetics and a creator of duchesses.
Freddy Eynsford Hill (20-25) [doubling as Nepommuck] : Freddy is the eldest of Mrs Eynsford Hill's children. Hopelessly trying to fit a middle-class model of family guy that doesn't befit the decadence of his family, he is initially comically bowled over by Eliza, the half-baked duchess who still speaks cockney. Later he becomes lovesick for the new Eliza, and courts her with letters. At the play's close, Freddy might be a young, viable marriage option for Eliza, making the possible path she will follow unclear to the reader.
Nepommuck (20-25) : is the genial and devoted ex-pupil of Higgins, now a highly paid translator. Originally from Hungary, Nepommuck is famous for his ear for accents and has a knack for spotting social backgrounds which makes him the perfect judge for Higgins' bet.
Mrs. Pearce (40 / 60) [doubling] : Higgins' housemaid, socially proud but also strong believer in mutual respect across classes. She is the real master at Higgins' house. She speaks up her mind and her opinions matter greatly to Higgins and Pickering.
Mrs. Eynsford Hill (45 -55) [doubling] : Mrs Eynsford, mother of Clara and Freddy, comes from an upper-class family that is not doing very well. She is well-dressed and well-spoken and works hard to save her children from social decline. Naïve and totally in the dark about Eliza's real identity, like her son and daughter she is totally fascinated by the boldness of the duchess-wanna be and attempts to learn her ways which she considers "the new fashion".
Miss Clara Eynsford Hill (18?) [doubling] : Clara, like her mother, shows her upper-class background and aspirations through her stately mannerism and appearances. However, she is unable to understand that the family is in decline. She has a bitter-sweet relationship with her mother with whom she is always seen together.
The text to be used is the 1930 version edited by Bernard Shaw for the stage and first screenplay. The text will be provided to cast members.
We are looking for the following :
Assistant Stage Managers
Lighting and Sound Operators
If you are interested in any of these roles or in being involved in the show in any other capacity please contact the Director, Emilia Teglia.