By Jane Shepard, from Kick-Ass Plays for Women. Directed by Andy Darley
Scripts: available from the Box Office.
These two short but powerful plays tell unforgettable stories of women connecting and finding strength in the face of circumstances that might initially seem impossible.
Each is a one-act play for a cast of two women, and both plays will be performed each night of the run with an interval between them. The plays will have separate casts, so there are four roles to be filled at audition. Each is a strong leading role with plenty of opportunity to develop the character.
In Commencing, straight Kelli and lesbian Arlin are bounced together on a blind date: the result is a sharp, funny encounter shot through with moments of quiet tragedy as they pick apart each other’s lives and loves. It needs a cast who can handle the pace and the comedy, but also find the truth in the silences.
Both women are quick-witted, unafraid to say what they think, and love having the last word. The similarities between them become increasingly obvious as the play develops, and as a result they will need broadly similar playing ages and appearances.
They are both marked deeply by their past experiences, while still hopeful about the future. To reflect this I want to cast mid-40s upwards. Kelli spends part of the play drunk, so the role requires the ability to portray this sensitively.
Nine sees two un-named women imprisoned in chains, using words as challenges to help each other fight off despair and keep hope alive. Harrowing and sometimes brutal, it’s a celebration of the human spirit against the most inhumane conditions.
This play will be more physically challenging, as the characters (1 and 2) are shackled throughout. No explanation is provided for why they are imprisoned, but they have suffered violent interrogation and fear a repeat.
The text can support different readings of the two characters’ personalities and motivations, and we will explore this (along with their backstories) in early rehearsals. In general, 1 is more direct and challenging, while 2 is more reactive. 1 seems to have been a prisoner longer and may have seen previous cell-mates die: 2 is less institutionalised and more likely to challenge the circumstances they find themselves in.
Either character can be any playing age but I want a visible difference between them so will likely look for a gap of a generation. The material is not suitable for Big Spirit members, but all ages eligible for membership of the adult Bancroft Players are welcome to audition for either role.
- Kelli: Female, playing age 45 upwards. A smart, funny, quick and probably alcoholic straight woman. Prone to rants.
- Arlin: Female, playing age 45 upwards. A smart, funny, quick and occasionally bombastic lesbian who is in recovery. Fond of diatribes.
- 1: Female, any age. Tends to be a cooler personality, capable of remoteness.
- 2: Female, any age. Warmer, with a slight tendency toward dependence.
Both women are articulate, resourceful, and capable of humour in the face of adversity.