Open Auditions : Princess & The Hustler

by Chinonyerem Odimba. Directed by Beverly Andrews.

Performance dates and venue :
Evenings at 7.30pm : Wednesday 2 – Saturday 5 October and Tuesday 8 – Saturday 12 October
Matinées at 3pm on Saturdays 5 and 12 October
To be performed in the Tower Theatre, Stoke Newington

Audition dates and time :
Auditions will take place on Thursday 20 June and Friday 21 June from 6pm to 10pm at the Tower Theatre.
Recalls will be on on Sunday 23 June from 12pm to 4pm.

Important note on auditions
Auditions are open to all, though please note that you will be required to join the Tower Theatre as a fully paid-up member if cast in this production. Click here to join.

If you are interested in auditioning, please contact the the Producer, Landé Belo to confirm which date you would like to attend and to request audition pieces. If you are unable to attend on the audition date, please say so and an alternative date will be arranged.

The script to be used is the Nick Hern edition.  You must read the script before auditioning!  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. 

About the Play
Never let anyone tell you what or who you can be

My name is Phyllis Princess James.  I will wear this crown every day.  I will never take it off even when I am asleep“. So says ten-year-old Princess; black, beautiful and bright and with a singular obsession of winning the Weston-Super-Mare Beauty Contest.  Her mother Mavis is striving to make ends meet and her brother, Junior, is focused on his own photography aspirations – the return of The Hustler, Princess’s absentee father, sets off a chain of events…life will never be the same again!   

Beauty pageants and bus boycotts collide in 1963 as Black Bristolians fight for their civil rights, whilst Princess fights for her right to be black and beautiful.  Set during a pivotal moment in British history, Princess & The Hustler is an uplifting tale of solidarity, optimism and the pursuit of happiness.

Casting Breakdown
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.

PHYLLIS ‘PRINCESS’ JAMES: (Female, Black Caribbean heritage, 10 years old)
NB: there is flexibility to cast a young adult actor in this part
Phyllis is a talkative, curious, and highly imaginative girl.  She dreams of being crowned the queen at a beauty contest in Weston-Super-Mare, a seaside town in England.  The ordinary cupboard in the flat “explodes into a world of pageantry” in her imagination.  She forms a strong bond with her half-sister, Lorna, and likes having her father around, being too young to remember or understand his abandonment. 

MAVIS JAMES: (Female, Black Caribbean heritage, 38 years old)
Princess’s and Wendell Junior’s mother.   She works several jobs to provide for her family.  She is estranged from her husband, Wendell ‘The Hustler’.  A formidable woman with very strong views on parenting and discipline.  Although she is strict with her children, she also displays a playful side.

WENDELL ‘JUNIOR’ JAMES: (Male, Black Caribbean heritage, 17 years old)
Princess’s older brother.  He dreams of becoming a photographer and often has his camera around his neck.  He is fiercely protective of his mother and sister and does his best to make Wendell leave so that he doesn’t “break us all over again”.

WENDELL ‘THE HUSTLER’ JAMES: (Male, Black Caribbean heritage, 40 years old)
Princess’s father who returns after a decade’s absence.  “Tall and handsome”, he earned the nickname ‘The Hustler’ due to his criminal activities.  He was in a relationship with Lorna’s mother in Liverpool, until she was sectioned, leaving him to raise their daughter.  Wendell aims to rebuild his relationship with his family.

LORNA JAMES: (Female, Mixed-Heritage, 9 years old)
NB: there is flexibility to cast a young adult actor in this part
Wendell’s younger daughter from another relationship Wendell had with a woman in Liverpool.  She has green eyes.  Lorna accompanies Wendell on his return to his family.  She is initially quiet and overwhelmed by her new situation, but soon comes out of her shell.  She misses her mother and is bullied for being mixed heritage and made to feel that she does not belong.

MARGOT: (Female, White, 42 years old)
A friend of Mavis’s.  She is funny and flirtatious and enjoys the attention she gets for her glamorous appearance.  Margot is also caring and looks after Mavis, as well as forming a close bond with Princess, indulging her in her beauty contest obsession.  Although Margot loves the James family, she also displays casual racism and feels that immigrants should be grateful for the limited employment opportunities they receive.

LEON: (Male, Black, 19 years old)
A friend of Wendell Junior’s. The two of them share a passion for photography and political activism.  Leon provides one of the most comical moments in the story when he clumsily flirts with Margot, and “attempts to casually lean on a wall and slips.”  He encourages his friend to be less hostile towards his father, perhaps seeing the harm that his anger does him.

Rehearsals will take place at Tower Theatre Stoke Newington on weekday evenings (Tuesdays and Fridays) and weekends (Sundays) from w/c 22  July. 
All cast members are required to assist with the get-in and set build and to attend tech rehearsals all day on Sunday 29 September and Monday 30 September and dress rehearsal from 6.30 – 10pm on Tuesday 1 October

Please come prepared at auditions to give the Director any dates during the rehearsal period that you are unavailable to attend.  Please make it clear if you wish to audition for certain roles only and are not prepared to accept another part.


Beverly Andrews

Beverly Andrews is a playwright, director, documentary filmmaker and the current immersive artist in residence at Britten Pears Arts (home of the Aldeburgh classical music festival), through the European Network of Opera Academies.   An alumnus of two Sundance Institute’s film directors courses, she recently co-directed the Arts Council funded workshop presentation of her musical The Coloured Valentino.  Her plays have been produced internationally, from the UK, US, India to Bhutan, earning her various accolades including most anticipated play for Annawon’s Song at the 2020 Vault Festival; recipient of the Roland Rees Playwright’s bursary; and runner up (twice!) of the Alfred Fagon award.  She won three international awards for I am Going to Make a Miracle (a documentary about the Arcola Theatre which she wrote and directed and was bought by Sky Arts).  Sophia, a play which she wrote and produced, depicting the life of Asian suffragette Sophia Duleep Singh, will appear at this year’s Dhaka International Film festival celebrating the work of female filmmakers.  For the Tower, she is about to direct Mary, Queen of Thots as part of Ain’t I A Woman?, a theatrical initiative showcasing black, female talent.

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