An Inspector Calls
by J.B. Priestley
Directed by David Shough.
Audition Dates: Monday and Tuesday, March 3 & 4, 2014, 7-9:30pm
Production Dates: April 18 – May 4, 2014
You need only attend one night, but are welcome at both. If you cannot attend either audition date, contact the director at email@example.com or 937-626-2674. Seeking 4 men, 3 women. Please see detailed descriptions of the roles below.
The Play: On an early April evening, 1912, the celebration dinner of a prosperous and prominent British family is interrupted when an Inspector calls, investigating the grisly suicide of a young working girl. One by one, the Inspector tears the family members out of their arrogance and complacency showing how each of them, in turn, is responsible for the girl’s death. What begins as a drawing room mystery turns to bombastic confrontations, and, in the end, a terrifying twist.
The Production: Written in 1945 and first performed in Russia, Priestley’s play has an undeniably socialistic message. There is also something about it, we come to learn, that is unnatural. The production itself will depart in places from naturalism/realism and the actors will be challenged, with, at times, unnatural movement and speech. Come with an open mind.
The Audition: Character descriptions are below. All characters will use British accents, with the Inspector and the Maid sounding perhaps a lower class than the others. Please take your best shot at the accent at auditions. Race is not relevant. Audition selections are available for download here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/dpa26mbmglewv8r/KgQjz18ntm. The file titles list all of the characters in the scene; The names in CAPS are the primary roles for that scene. (Those reading for the Maid will read a Sheila or Mrs. Birling scene, depending on the actor’s age.) Familiarity with (but not memorization of) the selections will be a good thing at audition; I would like to see something of your ability to create a character. Please bring a list of conflicts and a resume
The Roles (Sorted by relationship, not role size):
Arthur Birling, the Father (50+). Priestley says Arthur “is a heavy-looking rather portentous man in his middle fifties, with fairly easy manners but rather provincial in his speech.” He is a business man, moderately rich, probably self-made and contemptuous of those who are not. Proud to the edge of arrogance, ambitious for the privileges of the class to which he aspires. A strong will.
Sybil Birling, the Mother (~50). Priestley says Sybil “is about fifty, a rather cold woman and her husband’s social superior.” Also a strong will, she might be called haughty. Among her projects is a women’s charity that she runs rather uncharitably.
Shiela Birling, the Daughter (early 20s). Priestley says Shiela “is a pretty girl in her early twenties, very pleased with life and rather excited.” She has acquired some of her parents’ assumption of self-importance, though it has not settled so deeply in her. Her engagement to Gerald Croft has just been announced.
Eric Birling, the Son (mid 20s). Priestley says Eric “is in his middle twenties, not quite at ease, half shy, half assertive.” He also drinks, though this is news to his parents. Eric has none of his parents’ pretensions, but also none of their strength; at least that is so initially.
Gerald Croft, the Fiancé (~30). Priestley says Croft “is an attractive chap about thirty, rather too manly to be a dandy but very much the easy well-bred young-man-about-town.” His family is also in business, but is of a higher class than the Birlings. His father, in fact, is both a competitor and, probably, an idol of Arthur’s. Despite his upbringing, he has a quick mind and a moderately good heart.
Edna, the Parlour-Maid (20-70). Not the Birling’s only servant, but the only one we see. Few lines but an important presence representing everything about society that the Birlings do not. When she is on stage, which maybe much of the time, we should be aware of what she is thinking. The actor’s age, which is wide open, will help define her character.
Inspector Goole, (35+). Priestley says, “The Inspector need not be a big man but he creates at once an impression of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness. … He speaks carefully, weightily, and has a disconcerting habit of looking hard at the person he addresses before actually speaking.” He is commanding, moral, and, hopefully, enigmatic. Priestley places him in his fifties; he can certainly be younger, or even older, but must carry himself with authority. Though the play is set in 1912, Goole might more easily embody a fictional detective of the 1940s, the time when the play was written.