|Audition Notice||Gainsborough's Girls||
by Cecil Beaton
David Taylor lives in Islington off the Caledonian Road by the canal. Early years were spent tinkering with model theatres and doing school plays but his first directing job for the Tower Theatre (as a very young man) was The Boy Friend in 1975. Since then he has directed and designed and occasionally acted in a wide range of shows. Favourite play productions include Pygmalion, Nicholas Nickleby, My Night With Reg, As You Like It and Lark Rise, and favourite musicals include Mr Cinders, West Side Story, On The Town, Blitz, Valmouth, Sail Away, Guys and Dolls and The Producers. which won the Minack Theatre trophy for the best production of the season in 2014. In 2016, he led the Tower's team in their co-production with the RSC of A Midsummer Night's Dream - A Play for the Nation, which was presented at the Barbican Theatre in London and the RSC theatre in Stratford.
The director writes :
This is a fascinating and unpublished play by Cecil Beaton, the famous society photographer and set and costume designer. It is a rare chance to work on a relatively unknown piece and an exciting opportunity for the Tower to present the première revival and first London performances.
The play is set in London in 1774 when Gainsborough moved his family to the capital to make a living by painting society portraits. At this he is successful although his finances are precarious and he would rather be painting the landscapes of his native Suffolk.
The production is sponsored by Gainsborough's House in Sudbury, Suffolk, his birthplace.
The characters are :
Thomas Gainsborough (40s) : Impetuous, quick tempered, principled, loyal. Does not suffer fools gladly. His relationships with his family and clients create funny and moving incidents in the play.
Mrs Gainsborough (40s) : The one who tries to keep up standards and manages the household purse strings as best she can. Born out of wedlock to an aristocrat, she is a stylish woman.
Margaret (playing age 17) and Mary (playing age 16) : Their beautiful daughters who were painted many times by their father. They are excited to be in London and thrilled at the prospect of life close to the court. The siblings were very close although their rivalry in love provides the drama of the play.
Luke (20s?) : The main servant of the household. Has a nautical turn of phrase although determined not to go to sea! A willing and cheerful character.
James Christie (40s) : Gainsborough's agent, advisor and friend. The founder of the auction house. A bringer of truth and news, both good and bad. Scottish, although a strong Scottish accent is not required.
The Countess of Codlington (40s/50s?) : An important customer for Gainsborough. Curious but aware of her status, she enjoys being the centre of attention.
Lord Phillpot (20s) : Her son. Rich, handsome and he knows it. He is keen to learn to be a painter from the master. His dalliance with Margaret and Mary provides one of the dramatic threads of the play.
Emma Hart (a young model) : A beauty later to become Lady Hamilton. Needs to be comfortable posing (tastefully) naked.
Dolly the tall (a model)
Clara Hayward (a model)
These three girls, of a certain character, work next door at the "Temple of Health".
Alderman Sir Oliver Bundy (60s?) : A prospective customer. Rather pompous and pretentious and quite certain that a painter is beneath him in the social scale. A short but effective scene.
Smaller roles will be doubled as footmen, attendants etc.
Copies of selected scenes are available in the Tower Office and or from the Director, David Taylor.