By Howard Brenton
Directed by Nicki Pope
Hunting through an old chest, the newly crowned James I discovers the controversial legacy of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s notorious second wife. Time jumps back 70 years, when the witty and flirtatious Anne was not only in love with Henry, but also with the most dangerous ideas of her day. Conspiring with the exiled William Tyndale, she plots to make England Protestant – forever.
A celebration of a great English heroine, Anne Boleyn leaps between generations to reveal the debt the outrageous but scholarly James owed to Anne when he shrewdly reconciled England’s religious factions by creating his common, ‘authorised’ Bible.
Howard Brenton’s radically revisionist work argues that Anne was more Protestant martyr than sexual predator. It challenges received wisdom and bulges with theatrical vitality.
This “rollickingly good drama”, full of huge characters, offers a compelling portrait of a woman contentiously described by James I as “the whore who changed England”.
Court of King Henry VIII
- Anne Boleyn
- Anne Boleyn was 35 when she died – so actress needs to look around this age. Spirited, well spoken, educated, intelligent and wilful. Would probably be a feminist if around these days – polarising. I think similar to Meghan Markle – breaks rules, love or loathe
Auditionee’s need to have studied her opening speech.
- King Henry VIII
- Statuesque! Playing age 30 to 40ish give or take.
Henry VIII was 6ft 2in and of athletic build – incredibly fit and sporty. It is thought he was incredibly friendly, kind and caring until he suffered a fall when jousting which turned his personality to dangerous and brutal, this Henry covers both personalities…
- Thomas Cromwell
- Chief Minister to Henry VIII – a Lawyer who came from poverty. Scholarly, intelligent and manipulative – 50 plus
- Cardinal Wolsey
- Religious, scheming and pious – 50 plus
- Cromwell’s man – any age, servant
- Wolsey’s man, then Cromwell’s – any age servant
- Anne’s women
- Lady Rochford
- Aristocratic, intelligent, a beauty – 20 – 30 years. Married Anne’s brother George, had a part in the Anne and George’s downfall. Stayed in the royal household and was executed with Catherine Howard
- Lady Celia
- Small part – Lady in Waiting, well spoken, high spirited! Any age
- Lady Jane Seymour
- A noble woman, lady in waiting – will be Queen after Anne. Young and pretty. Must be younger than Anne!
- William Tyndale
- Leading figure in the Protestant Reformation, transcribe the bible into English – 40ish but could be older. Religious, intelligent, multi-lingual
Court of James I
- King James I
- Son of Mary Queen of Scots – succeeded after Elizabeth I. Regal, handsome, gay… Larger than life, dramatic, and a little bit camp! Playing age – 30 – 40ish
- Robert Cecil
- King James’ man. Previously Elizabeth I’s Chief Minister. Political, scheming, intelligent, powerful! Spymaster – he uncovered the Gunpowder plot. Playing age 50ish
- George Villiers
- 1st Duke of Buckingham – the King’s “favourite” Young, handsome and playful, fashionable. Playing age 20’s
- Parrot (Cecil’s man)
- A servant / assistant – any playing age. Not particularly intelligent
- Dean Lancelot Andrewes
Doctor John Reynolds
- Andrewes, Reynolds and Barrow are leading Anglicans and Puritans. Any age.
- Country Men and Women (followers of Tyndale)
- Small parts will be doubled with main cast
There will be doubling up of characters – as much as possible e.g.
- Lady Jane / 2nd Country Woman
- Simpkin / Parrot
- George Villiers / 2nd Country Man
- Lady Celia / 1st Country Woman
- Cardinal Wolsey / Henry Barrow
Peasants and Servants, we will work out when rehearsing
Books will be in the Box Office in the next couple of weeks.