William Shakespeares's Wars of the Roses

Adapted and Directed by Rachel Kohler

Details coming soon!

William Shakespeare’s Wars of the Roses

Open Auditions

By William Shakespeare

Adapted and directed by Rachel Kohler

Open Auditions: May 18-19; Callbacks May 20

Rehearsal Timeframe: August 3 – September 24

Performances: September 25, 26, 27 (m), October 2, 3, 4 (m)

 

The Majestic Theatre (a division of the City of Corvallis Parks and Recreation department) is committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion and to creating a safe place for actors of all backgrounds to explore their craft. We are particularly eager to work with artists of color and other artists from marginalized communities. All auditions are free and open to the public. This audition is for an amateur, volunteer production. The Majestic Theatre staff and volunteers do not discriminate on the basis of age, national origin, race, gender, ethnic background, disability, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation.

 

SHOW SYNOPSIS

Henry of the House of Lancaster, King of England, sits precariously on his throne. Crowned when he was just nine months old, he has grown into a weak and unsuitable leader, surrounded by a rapacious aristocracy and riotous factions vying for supremacy within his government. Henry’s father, the brilliant general Henry V, won control of large areas of France some years ago, but the empire is crumbling under Henry’s mismanagement. After the young king impulsively marries the clever and strong-willed Margaret of Anjou, her scheming presence at court tips the balance of grumbling factions towards an all-out civil war. When the ambitious Richard, Duke of York, takes this opportunity to press a claim to the throne, everyone must pick a side -- Lancaster or York, the Red Rose or the White.

 

FROM THE DIRECTOR, RACHEL KOHLER

William Shakespeare’s earliest plays were more like blockbuster action movies than high art, full of violence, supernatural elements, and literal buckets of blood. This brand-new conflated adaptation of all three of Shakespeare’s Henry VI plays takes all of that excitement and turns it up to 11, pairing Shakespeare’s soaring verse with soaring electric guitars and telling the epic story of England’s Wars of the Roses with some epic heavy metal. Come and rock out with a huge ensemble cast. Fight with swords! Summon demons! Eviscerate your enemies with scathing Shakespearean insults! Die a dramatic onstage death (possibly more than once)! The only thing that’s going to be more exciting than watching this play is being in this play, so don’t miss your chance to audition.

 

PREPARATION NOTES

You do NOT need to prepare a monologue or piece. Wear comfortable clothes to audition. Be ready to move (within your comfortable ability to do so), collaborate with others, and make bold choices.


 

CHARACTER DESCRIPTIONS

All characters do not have a specific race or ethnic background, and most do not have a specific gender identity, so we're excited to see a diverse pool of actors audition for all roles. 

 

CASTING NOTE

Shakespeare’s history plays always take wide liberties with facts and compress timelines for dramatic effect. A single-play adaptation of three history plays must by necessity exacerbate this. Looking at the actual historical record, this adaptation covers the sweep of over thirty years. There’s a time jump of over a decade between the first and second acts, and the ages of the characters are therefore very nebulous. There are two children in the play, but they will be played by adult actors.

 

For roles flagged with “Any” gender, once cast, actors will have the opportunity to choose their character’s gender presentation, and if they prefer, the pronouns in the script will be updated to reflect this choice. Names will not be changed. (Which will not be as confusing as one might think, since characters are almost exclusively referred to in the text by titles and last names rather than their socially gendered first names.)

 

Shakespeare’s history plays also have remarkably huge casts and are designed for extensive doubling of roles. While many roles will be doubled, actors will have the option to indicate that they would only like to be cast in a single small role if that is their preference. There are around 40 characters. We are aiming for a doubled cast of 22-28 performers.

 

THOSE WHO FOLLOW THE RED ROSE AND THE HOUSE OF LANCASTER

 

Margaret of Anjou, later Queen of England

Character Age: 20+

Character Race: Any.  

Character Ethnicity: Any. 

Desired Actor Gender: Female-identifying.

Ability/movement: Ability to climb stairs and perform light stage combat.

Actor Doubling: No

Line Burden: Heavy

KING HENRY’s smart, fierce, and strong-willed wife, ambitious, ruthless, and ready to take up a sword. Too much for HENRY to handle. Has an affair with SUFFOLK. Cheerfully murders defeated enemies.

 

King Henry VI of England

Character Age: 18+

Character Race: Any.  

Character Ethnicity: Any. 

Desired Actor Gender: Male-identifying.

Ability/movement: Any.

Actor Doubling: No.

Line Burden: Heavy

A young and too-gentle king. Pious and kind, but honestly kind of a weenie. Gets pushed around by literally everyone, especially MARGARET. Utterly unsuited to being King.

 

William de la Pole, Earl (later Duke) of Suffolk (pronounced SUHF-uhck)

Character Age: 35+

Character Race: Any.  

Character Ethnicity: Any. 

Desired Actor Gender: Any, but leaning towards casting a female-identifying actor in this role.

Ability/movement: Ability to participate in heavy stage combat.

Actor Doubling: Probable.

Line Burden: Heavy

A fierce soldier and an ambitious politician. Served the previous king. In love with MARGARET at first sight. Seeks to control HENRY through MARGARET to become, in essence, a shadow king.

 

Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset (pronounced SUHM-er-set)

Character Age: 35+

Character Race: Any.  

Character Ethnicity: Any. 

Desired Actor Gender: Any.

Ability/movement: Ability to climb stairs and participate in heavy stage combat.

Actor Doubling: Probable

Line Burden: Heavy

A terrible general and staunch Lancastrian. Descended from a prince with a claim to the throne, but for complicated genealogical and legal reasons unable to inherit it. Hates YORK because YORK has way more money and a better claim to the throne.

 

Humphrey Stafford, Duke of Buckingham (pronounced BUHK-ing-uhm)

Character Age: 40+

Character Race: Any.  

Character Ethnicity: Any. 

Desired Actor Gender: Any.

Ability/movement: Ability to participate in heavy stage combat.

Actor Doubling: Yes

Line Burden: Medium

A grizzled warrior who served with KING HENRY’s father. A distant cousin to KING HENRY. Dislikes WARWICK immensely. (In this adaptation, BUCKINGHAM has been conflated with John Clifford, Baron de Clifford, the parent of Thomas CLIFFORD, a fierce young warrior. So we’re pretending that BUCKINGHAM is CLIFFORD’s parent.)

 

Henry Holland, Duke of Exeter (pronounced EHK-si-ter)

Character Age: 20+

Character Race: Any.  

Character Ethnicity: Any. 

Desired Actor Gender: Any.

Ability/movement: Any.

Actor Doubling: No

Line Burden: Light

A loyal and steadfast Lancastrian of few words. A staunch supporter of KING HENRY and one of his distant cousins. A commander in HENRY’s armies. Seems pretty chill in the play, but the historical Exeter was apparently such a huge jerk that they were specifically called out as such in primary sources from the period.

 

Thomas Clifford, Baron de Clifford (pronounced KLIF-erd)

Character Age: 20+

Character Race: Any.  

Character Ethnicity: Any. 

Desired Actor Gender: Any.

Ability/movement: Ability to participate in heavy stage combat.

Actor Doubling: Probable.

Line Burden: Medium

A fearsome warrior with a short temper and a penchant for vengeance. On the side of the Lancastrians and (at least in this adaptation), child of the Duke of BUCKINGHAM, so an even more distant cousin of the king. 

 

Prince Edward

Character Age: 12-17 (played by an actor 18-25)

Character Race: Any.  

Character Ethnicity: Any. 

Desired Actor Gender: Any.

Ability/movement: Ability to climb stairs and participate in light stage combat.

Actor Doubling: Probable.

Line Burden: Medium

The only child of KING HENRY and MARGARET. Rumors abound that EDWARD is the product of an affair, but HENRY never doubts the child’s legitimacy. A blood-thirsty little prince. Excited to go to war and sever some heads. Think Jeoffrey from Game of Thrones.

 

Basset

Character Age: 18+

Character Race: Any.  

Character Ethnicity: Any. 

Desired Actor Gender: Any.

Ability/movement: Ability to participate in light stage combat.

Actor Doubling: Yes

Line Burden: Light

Retainer to the Duke of SOMERSET. Loyal to the point of quarrelsomeness. 

 

THOSE WHO FOLLOW THE WHITE ROSE AND THE HOUSE OF YORK

 

Elizabeth Woodville, the Lady Gray, later Queen of England

Character Age: 20+

Character Race: Any.  

Character Ethnicity: Any. 

Desired Actor Gender: Female-identifying.

Ability/movement: Any.

Actor Doubling: Yes

Line Burden: Medium

The widow of Sir John Gray, a Lancastrian. Values her honor and is willing to defend at all costs. Quick-witted and alluring because of it.

 

Edward Plantagenet, later King Edward IV of England

Character Age: 20-35

Character Race: Any.  

Character Ethnicity: Any. 

Desired Actor Gender: Male-identifying.

Ability/movement: Ability to participate in light stage combat.

Actor Doubling: No.

Line Burden: Heavy

The eldest son of Richard, Duke of YORK. A tad less hot-headed than his two younger adult brothers, RICHARD and GEORGE, but just as mercurial. A notorious philanderer, but a much better king than HENRY.

 

Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York

Character Age: 40+

Character Race: Any.  

Character Ethnicity: Any. 

Desired Actor Gender: Any, but leaning towards casting a male-identifying actor in this role.

Ability/movement: Ability to participate in heavy stage combat.

Actor Doubling: No.

Line Burden: Heavy

An ambitious and ruthless warrior. Pursues an actually very legitimate claim to the throne at any cost. Dotes on family. Would have been a much better king than HENRY, except for the whole getting murdered thing.

 

Richard Neville, Jr., Earl of Warwick (pronounced WAH-rik)

Character Age: 25+

Character Race: Any.  

Character Ethnicity: Any. 

Desired Actor Gender: Any.

Ability/movement: Ability to participate in light stage combat.

Actor Doubling: No.

Line Burden: Heavy

One of the richest and most influential peers of the English court. Like SO, SO rich. Instrumental in the deposition of two kings, HENRY VI and EDWARD IV by turns, so carries the epithet “the Kingmaker,” which is objectively badass. A canny politician. Doesn’t take kindly to being betrayed. A Yorkist for personal gain rather than loyalty to the cause.

 

Richard Neville, Sr., Earl of Salisbury (pronounced SAWLZ-buh-ree, often scans to

SAWLS-bree)

Character Age: 45+

Character Race: Any.  

Character Ethnicity: Any. 

Desired Actor Gender: Any.

Ability/movement: Any.

Actor Doubling: Yes

Line Burden: Light

WARWICK’s parent, who served KING HENRY’s father as a Warden protecting the Scottish border. A venerable general and member of the peerage. Firmly Yorkist.

 

Richard Plantagenet, Jr., later Duke of Gloucester

Character Age: 20+

Character Race: Any.  

Character Ethnicity: Any. 

Desired Actor Gender: Any.

Ability/movement: It would be awesome to see a person in a wheelchair in this role, though with enough upper-body mobility to wield a sword. The fight choreographer has indicated his willingness to create combat sequences with an actor in a wheelchair. This is not texually mandated in this adaptation, however, as Richard’s undefined “disability,” such a central element of Shakespeare’s later play Richard III, is not mentioned in our text. What we will not do is cast an able-bodied actor and have them pretend a disability, and we do not wish to see anything of the sort in auditions.

Actor Doubling: No

Line Burden: Heavy

Child of Richard, Duke of YORK. Younger sibling to EDWARD and GEORGE and older sibling to RUTLAND. Definitely the most violent member of the family. Seems to enjoy the act of war (at one point waving around a severed head just for funsies). Outwardly supports the family, but secretly scheming to take the crown. (You’ll have to read Shakespeare’s Richard III to see how that shakes out.) 

 

George Plantagenet, later Duke of Clarence

Character Age: 20+

Character Race: Any.  

Character Ethnicity: Any. 

Desired Actor Gender: Any.

Ability/movement: Ability to climb stairs and participate in light stage combat.

Actor Doubling: Possible

Line Burden: Medium

The second child of Richard, Duke of YORK. Selfish and a bit sassy. Happy to betray family for personal gain, and happy to come crawling back to the fold when it seems advantageous to do so.

 

Edmund Plantagenet, Earl of Rutland (pronounced RUHT-luhnd)

Character Age: 12-17 (played by an actor 18-25)

Character Race: Any.  

Character Ethnicity: Any. 

Desired Actor Gender: Any.

Ability/movement: Ability to participate in light stage combat.

Actor Doubling: Yes

Line Burden: Light

The youngest child of Richard, Duke of YORK. Doted upon by the rest of the family. Dies tragically, murdered by CLIFFORD.

 

Vernon

Character Age: 18+

Character Race: Any.  

Character Ethnicity: Any. 

Desired Actor Gender: Any.

Ability/movement: Ability to participate in light stage combat.

Actor Doubling: Yes

Line Burden: Light

Retainer to the Duke of YORK. Loyal to the point of quarrelsomeness. 

 

THOSE WHO DO NOT TAKE SIDES IN THIS WARLIKE FEUD

 

Eleanor, Duchess of Gloucester (pronounced GLOSS-ter)

Character Age: 40+

Character Race: Any.  

Character Ethnicity: Any. 

Desired Actor Gender: Female-identifying.

Ability/movement: Ability to kneel and participate in some simple dance choreography.

Actor Doubling: Probable.

Line Burden: Medium

In many ways, a proto-Lady Macbeth. Can’t convince her spouse GLOUCESTER to press a claim to the throne, so takes matters into her own hands and summons a demon. Convicted of witchcraft and banished.

 

Lady Bona of France

Character Age: 18-25

Character Race: Any.  

Character Ethnicity: Any. 

Desired Actor Gender: Female-identifying.

Ability/movement: Any.

Actor Doubling: Yes.

Line Burden: Light

A proud Princess of France. Not above encouraging a little bloodshed when slighted.

 

Joan de la Pucelle, also called Joan of Arc

Character Age: 15-18 (played by an actor 18-25)

Character Race: Any.  

Character Ethnicity: Any. 

Desired Actor Gender: Female-identifying or non-binary. (Joan as a character, though, will use she/her pronouns, as this is an important element in how other characters perceive her.)

Ability/movement: Ability to participate in heavy stage combat.

Actor Doubling: Yes.

Line Burden: Light

Badass lady general of the French. A peasant girl with visions that encouraged her to take up arms against the English invaders. A divine warrior. Inspires the French to throw off their oppressors before meeting a tragic end.

 

King Louis XI of France

Character Age: 20+

Character Race: Any.  

Character Ethnicity: Any. 

Desired Actor Gender: Male-identifying.

Ability/movement: Any.

Actor Doubling: Yes.

Line Burden: Light

A canny king, called “the Spider” by contemporary chroniclers for his complex political webs. Supports MARGARET for his own ends.

 

John Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury and Waterford (pronounced TAWL-buht)

Character Age: 45+

Character Race: Any.  

Character Ethnicity: Any. 

Desired Actor Gender: Male-identifying.

Ability/movement: Ability to participate in heavy combat.

Actor Doubling: Yes.

Line Burden: Light

The most feared of the English generals. Interested in little more than the honorable defeat of the French. Thoroughly fed up with the Lancastrian and Yorkist infighting that undermines the war effort.

 

Humphrey Plantagenet, Duke of Gloucester (pronounced GLOSS-ter)

Character Age: 45+

Character Race: Any.  

Character Ethnicity: Any. 

Desired Actor Gender: Any.

Ability/movement: Any.

Actor Doubling: Possible

Line Burden: Heavy

Called “Good Duke Humphrey” by the common people for an affable manner. HENRY’s uncle. Serves as Protector during the king’s minority. Until HENRY has a child, next in line to the throne. A practical and grounded sort of politician with little patience for machinations. Opposed by Lancastrians and Yorkists alike, as a threat to their own control over HENRY.

 

Sir John Lucy, Sheriff of Warwickshire

Character Age: 20+

Character Race: Any.  

Character Ethnicity: Any. 

Desired Actor Gender: Any.

Ability/movement: Ability to kneel.

Actor Doubling: Yes

Line Burden: Light

Serves TALBOT in the French wars. Has no patience for Lancastrian and Yorkist BS.

 

Walter Whitmore

Character Age: 20+

Character Race: Any.  

Character Ethnicity: Any. 

Desired Actor Gender: Any.

Ability/movement: Ability to perform heavy stage combat.

Actor Doubling: Yes

Line Burden: Light

A blood-thirsty pirate who hates adultery. 

 

Asmath

Character Age: Immortal (to be played by an actor of any age)

Character Race: Any.  

Character Ethnicity: Any. 

Desired Actor Gender: Any.

Ability/movement: Strong preference for a dancer or a burlesque performer who might be willing to create their own choreography for a demon-summoning sequence

Actor Doubling: Yes

Line Burden: Light

A demon summoned by ELEANOR to answer questions about the king and his allies.

 

The Bard

Character Age: Immortal (to be played by an actor of any age)

Character Race: Any.  

Character Ethnicity: Any. 

Desired Actor Gender: Any.

Ability/movement: Ability to climb stairs and play the guitar (or very credibly fake playing the guitar).

Actor Doubling: Possible

Line Burden: None

Essentially this production’s fiddler on the roof. Will (in theory) play along with the sweet metal via wireless amp during act overtures, set piece sequences, certain important battles, and the curtain call.

 

Plus...various small ensemble roles including soldiers, armorers, extra demons, petitioners, common people, and divers others. Many ensemble roles involve stage combat.

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The Majestic Theatre is a branch of the City of Corvallis Parks and Recreation Department, dedicated to bringing a wide range of artistic productions and arts education programs to the citizens of Corvallis.

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