Open Auditions : Leave Taking

by Winsome Pinnock. Directed by Landé Belo
Auditions on Tuesday 28th and Thursday 30th June

To be performed at the Tower Theatre, Stoke Newington.

Performance dates and times :
Wednesday 21st September – Saturday 24th September and Tuesday 27th September to Saturday 1st October at 7.30pm.
Matinées on Saturdays 24th September and 1st October at 3.00pm.

About the play:

“What they know about a black woman soul?”

1984, Easter Monday and not many buses are running, yet God-fearing and hymn-singing Enid drags her two teenage daughters across town to Deptford for a séance with obeah woman Mai.  This unleashes much soul searching, uncomfortable truths, secrets being revealed and a long overdue interrogation of the past.  With humour, compassion and urgency, Leave Taking examines inter-generational conflict, mother-daughter relationships and the plight of first-and-second-generation immigrants, navigating the dichotomy of dislocation from their origins and not belonging in their own future.  Though focusing on a family of Jamaican heritage, Leave Taking is a play which resonates cross culturally. 

Perhaps to the consternation of its award-winning playwright, Winsome Pinnock, ‘Godmother of Black British playwrights’, the themes and issues explored almost 40 years ago in Leave Taking are as relevant today in the wake of the Windrush Scandal and the so-called “compliant environment”.
Winsome Pinnock has recently been awarded the prestigious Windham-Campbell Prize for Drama. More details about that here.

Cast

  • Playing ages given below are for guidance and are flexible.  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.
  • The script to be used is the Nick Hern Books edition.  A reading copy is available from the Tower office.  Please do not remove it from the theatre to allow others the opportunity to read it.  If cast, you will be required to purchase your own copy.  Please speak to the Director if you have any concerns or difficulties procuring the script. 

Characters

Mai [female, 40s-50s, Jamaican heritage, Jamaican accent]

An obeah woman, born in Jamaica.  She lives in a bedsit in Deptford, which is littered with a box of lucky charms, an African figurine and books on the occult, including ‘Charms and Counter Charms, Divination and Demonology’.  She quotes L. W. de Laurence, keeps chickens in her back garden, drinks stout and operates her business from her home.  Her great, great grandfather came over to Jamaica in the hold of a ship and her mother ran away to Cuba in the 1920s to work on a sugar cane plantation.  She was married and has a son whom she has not seen for years. 

Enid Matthews [female, 40s-50s, Jamaican heritage, Jamaican accent]

Enid grew up in May Pen, Jamaica and was raised by her mother.  She came over to England in the late 50s to join her husband, who had saved up a year to pay for her passage.  She had ambition when she was younger; and she and her husband were going to be “big shots in London”.  She now works 2 menial jobs in London, 7 days a week.  She is a born-again Christian and likes listening to hymns.  She lives on a council estate in North London with her 2 daughters, “the cleanest flat on the estate”.  She has family back in Jamaica and regularly sends money back to them. 

Del Matthews [female, 18, Jamaican heritage, London accent]

Enid’s older daughter, born in London.  Her parents split up when she was very young and she has no memories of her father.  She works in a burger place and stays out all night with her friends, going out clubbing.  She has never been to Jamaica and does not know anything about her relatives back there and appears to have no curiosity or desire to go there. 

Viv Matthews [female, 17, Jamaican heritage, London accent]

Enid’s younger daughter, born in London.  Like Del, she has no memories of her father.  She’s studying to go to university and about to take her ‘A’ Levels.  She’s a straight ‘A’ student, likes poetry and spends most of her time studying.  She bears the weight of her mother’s expectations and wonders whether she is worthy. 

Broderick [male, 40s-50s, Jamaican heritage, Jamaican accent]

Old family friend, grew up with Enid in May Pen in Jamaica.  Enid’s mother was like a mother to him.  He came over to England over 30 years ago and remained close with Enid and her husband.  He has a wife and children who live in Jamaica, whom he never sees.  He lives on the same council estate as the Matthews family and drops round every day for his ‘rice and peas’.  He is rather partial to white rum, brand, whisky and Guinness, saying that “poor man not suppose to be sober”. 

Audition pieces

Please contact the Director.

Rehearsals

Rehearsals will take place on weekday evenings (normally Tuesday, Thursday and Friday) and weekends (Sunday).  There will be a weekend workshop on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th July which will include a cast read through of the play and exploratory work.  Thereafter, rehearsals will begin from Tuesday 12th July to the run of the play.  Exact dates and times to be determined.

Read Through

A read through of the entire play has been scheduled for 11am on Saturday 18th June 2022 at the Tower Theatre.  This is to provide an opportunity for those interested in auditioning to learn more about the play and the characters.  The read through is open to both Company members and non-members.  If you would like to attend the read through, please contact the Director.

Auditions

Auditions will take place on Tuesday 28 June and Thursday 30 June 2022 at 7.00pm and recalls on Saturday 2 July, 4.00-6.00pm at the Tower Theatre, Stoke Newington.  If you are interested in auditioning, please contact the Director to confirm which date you would like to attend and to obtain audition pieces to prepare. 

If you are unable to make the audition dates shown, please contact the Director to make alternative arrangements. Auditioning for a play implies availability for that play.  Please come prepared at auditions to give the Director any dates during the rehearsal period that you are unavailable.  Please make it clear if you wish to audition for certain roles only and are not prepared to accept another part.

Auditions are open to all (including non-members).
If you are cast, and not yet a member of the Tower Theatre Company, you will be asked to pay the annual membership fee (£60 or £30 if a full-time student or under 21; see here for further details).
Please contact the Director, Landé Belo if you have have any queries about the auditions or the production.

Landé Belo

Landé Belo’s directing credits with the Tower include: Fix Up (2019); I can’t breathe: being black in a time of Covid (part of the Love [and Survival] Festival) (2021) and Mules (2021).  She also worked as Assistant Director on To Kill A Mocking Bird (2018) and Sweat (2020).  During lockdown, she co-produced The Tower Theatre Podcast and directed and acted in various plays on Virtual Tower.    
Her acting credits with the Tower include: Francine/Lena in Clybourne Park; multiple characters in Doctor Faustus; Prudence in The House of Bernarda Alba; Pope Joan/Louise in Top Girls; Jellaby in Arcadia and Cynthia in Sweat.
Previously a member of the Tower Theatre Artistic Team, she currently sits on Tower’s Board of Trustees.   She is an advocate of socially engaged and inclusive programming and has driven various initiatives to bring about more diversity and inclusion to Tower Theatre and the creative arts industry.  She is particularly passionate about promoting black, female voices in theatre.