The Mystery of Love and Sex
By Bathsheba Doran
Directed by Corinne Wieben
Performs September 13 to October 6, 2018
Proposed Rehearsals begin July 30
Notes from the Director
When you love someone, sometimes it’s better to say nothing at all, but what happens when you can’t hold it in anymore? The Mystery of Love and Sex takes place over five years in the present day somewhere deep in the American South, following Charlotte and Jonny, childhood friends who are now all grown up. She’s Jewish, he’s Christian; he’s black, she’s white. Both must negotiate tough questions of religion, race, sexuality, and identity. Charlotte’s parents, Howard and Lucinda, have kept their own fears and desires quiet for years, but when Charlotte and Jonny begin to discover themselves, Charlotte’s parents begin to question the paths of their own lives.
Since this dramatic comedy is such an ensemble show, I’m looking for strong actors who enjoy collaborative work. If you like getting creative with subtext, you should definitely audition; much of the dialogue circles around what these characters won’t say out loud. Though the play has moments of real drama, there are also many lighter moments, and it’s important to play up these contrasts as much as possible while still maintaining an honest performance in contemporary style. At its heart, this play is about love and all the ways we try to adjust to radical changes in the ones we love. These four characters dance around each other’s transformations, drift apart, come together, take chances, learn from the past, and ultimately discover the beauty in speaking the truth. The actors’ performances should strive to mimic this struggle between suppression and self-expression.
[A note to actors interested in playing Charlotte or Jonny: the script calls for nudity, but I’m willing to work within your level of comfort (and the policies of the venue). Don’t let that scare you!]
Charlotte (Caucasian female, 20s): When we first meet her, Charlotte is about to graduate from college. She is still figuring out her sexuality, and she is torn between her connection to Jonny and her feelings for a female friend. Like many young women, she is bright, funny, and fiercely independent, but is also in dire need of support and validation as she figures out her life.
Jonny (African-American male, 20s): Jonny has known Charlotte and her parents so long, he’s practically a member of the family, so why doesn’t he feel like he belongs? Like Charlotte, Jonny is on the edge of adulthood, discovering his own identity. Despite a string of “very Christian” girlfriends (with whom he has never had sex), it becomes increasingly clear that Jonny is gay, which only contributes to his feeling like an outsider and his instinct to pull away.
Howard (Caucasian male, 40s-50s): Howard is a novelist and a Jewish New York transplant who has never quite fit in the South. He is confident, brash, and ready to turn his critical gaze on everyone but himself. He prides himself on his liberalism, but when his daughter is struggling with her sexuality and Jonny points out racist and sexist themes in his novels, Howard loses his cool.
Lucinda (Caucasian female, 40s-50s): Lucinda is a Southern Christian who has always tried to rebel without ever quite succeeding. When Charlotte begins to experiment with her sexuality, Lucinda realizes a deep-seated desire to discover her own identity. Who is she when she’s not Howard’s wife or Charlotte’s mother? As the play progresses, Lucinda struggles to maintain her ties to her family as she strives for freedom.
By Nick Dear
Directed by Peter Anthony
Performs October 25 to November 24, 2018
Proposed Rehearsal begin September 10
Essential Season. Venue: Lincoln Center Magnolia Theatre
Notes from the Director
This adaptation of Mary Shelley’s classic Gothic novel is by Nick Dear. It had its sensational premier in London at the Royal National Theatre in 2011, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Unlike the novel, we experience events primarily through the mind of the Creature. The play opens like a surrealistic fever dream of an awakening organism. We are then plunged into a choreographic cacophonous street scene, surging through the smog with whirling motion that is both wildly human and mechanistically industrial. The dream then metamorphoses, with the creature’s bewildered wanderings, into an Eden-like woods. Eventually, we come into more naturalistic scenes as the creature acclimates to the strange world he has been thrust into. Even then, the narrative slips back into phantasm with the vision of his female mate, and again in the ghostly appearance of Frankenstein’s young brother. So, the acting company will need to be able to bridge both highly choreographic and naturalistic sequences. Audition note: dress for expressive movement. All this is in service of a very human, poignant story (nothing of the artifice of old Hollywood melodrama). The creature cries out, “All I ask is the possibility of love.” The tale of a creature abandoned by its creator asks many profound questions about the ethics in science and technology as we forge ahead with genetic engineering and artificial intelligence. And the ultimate question: what is life, and do we have the wisdom to play God?
THE CREATURE – a tabula rasa at first, that is an emergent body housing a mind that is a blank slate. He wallows in inarticulate movement and utterances, an innocent, but grotesque in form. Through the course of things, he learns. First grasping control of his body, then his mind. He tastes all that is human, both cruelty and kindness, the sublime and the satanic. Age is indeterminate, but I am looking for an imposing physicality, a mercurial bestiality. The actor will initially appear nearly nude, in diffuse lighting as seen through an embryonic-like membrane.
VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN – a brilliant scientist whose narcissistic character has driven him to horrific experimentation to reanimate the dead. He proclaims, “I followed nature into her lair, and stripped her of her secrets! I brought torrents of light to a darkening world!” Now haunted by the consequences of his work, he spurns his moral responsibility, and gives way to abhorrence and destruction, only to find himself inextricably bound to the creature he has brought forth. Age: late 20’s to early 30’s.
MONSIEUR FRANKENSTEIN – Victor’s father. A commanding presence. Aristocratic bearing. His stern authoritative nature is tempered by a genuine love and concern for his family. Age: mid to late 50’s. Will double as Ensemble.
WILLIAM FRANKENSTEIN - Victor’s young brother. Bright, curious, sunny disposition. Killed by the creature, but reappears to Victor as a ghost breathing out a crescendo of questions. Age: 10 to 12. Will double as Ensemble.
ELIZABETH LAVENZA – Victor’s fiancé. Attractive, intelligent, very much in love with Victor. Sharply feels his neglect, the wall that his work has placed between them. When face-to-face with the creature, she manages to summon incredible courage and compassion. Something Victor is never able to do. In her pleas to become involved in Victor’s work, unaware of what it entails, in her insistence that she can be a capable partner, she might be thought of as a kind of proto-feminist. Age: early to mid 20’s. Will double as Ensemble.
CLARICE – Elizabeth’s maid. A no-nonsense sort of woman. Entirely devoted to Elizabeth. She plays like an elder sister or mother to her. World-wise, practical, protective, big-hearted. Age: late 30’s to early 40’s. Doubles in Ensemble, possibly with Gretel.
DE LACEY – blinded and displaced by a war, he is a man of considerable learning. Philosophical. Lover of literature and music. Plays the guitar. Age: mid 50’s to mid 60’s. Will double as Ensemble.
FELIX – De Lacey’s son. Maintains a positive disposition in the face of hard times. Willing to shoulder the unaccustomed labor of farming without complaint. Very much in love with Agatha. Age: mid to late 20’s. Will double as Ensemble.
AGATHA – De Lacey’s daughter-in-law. Attractive. Playful. Loves life with Felix. Age: early to mid 20’s. Will double as Ensemble.
GRETEL – a prostitute. Age: mid 30’s to early 40’s. Doubles in Ensemble, possibly with Clarice.
GUSTAV AND KLAUS – beggars. Middle aged. Both will double as Ensemble. Possible doublings with Ewan and the Constable.
EWAN – an Orkney islander. A weathered, but brawny, geezer. Willing to engage in illicit work for profit. A part of a comic duo with Rab. Scottish dialect. Age: 50’s. Doubles as Ensemble.
RAB – Ewan’s nephew. The other half of the comic duo. A strapping young man. Bit of a simpleton. Scottish dialect. Age: mid 20’s to early 30’s.
A CONSTABLE IN ORKNEY – middle aged. Scottish dialect. Doubles as Ensemble.
THE FEMALE CREATURE – more skillfully pieced together than her male counterpart, so that her physical beauty is evident. In the dream sequence, she wakes in an Eden-like setting, and rapturously dances. When she appears later, in Victor’s make-shift lab in the Orkneys, she is more zombie-like, with minimal animation and mental function. Scantily dressed in the dream. In the Orkneys, she wears a ragged loincloth. Age: early to mid 20’s.
ENSEMBLE – Townspeople of Ingolstadt and servants of the Frankenstein household.
By Robert Harling
Directed by Debbie Swann
Performs January 17 to February 16, 2019
Proposed Rehearsal begin in mid-November with time off for Thanksgiving and the Holidays
Essential Season. Venue: Lincoln Center Magnolia Theatre
Notes from the Director
Steel Magnolias is a beautiful play about the strength of women, both in life and in friendship. The characters, firmly placed in Louisiana in the 1980s, are real women: flawed, funny, smart, naïve, sassy, crass, and so much more. These women are not cartoons nor stereotypes. The success of this play rests solely on the personalities of these women and the honesty in their friendships. There are very few stage directions in the script, giving ample opportunity for the cast the find dynamics, nuance, and movements that works best for the ensemble.
To me, Shelby’s most poignant line is when she says she “would rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a life-time of nothing special.” To many, a play about women in a beauty shop would seem like two-hours of nothing special. But these WOMEN, their bond, and their journey is 120+ minutes of wonderful in the hands of the right storytellers. Women from all races, creeds, and backgrounds are encouraged to audition.
Truvy Jones – late 30s-40s. Sweet, sexy and sassy. She is a confident business woman, out of necessity, with a successful beauty shop. She cares greatly about her appearance without being self-centered. She is the supreme optimist, always making the best of life.
Annelle Dupuy-Desoto – late teens-early 20s. Newly hired beauty assistant at Truvy’s shop, and a bit overwhelmed. A little shy and beaten by life thus far, she is looking for a fresh start. Through the play, she changes a lot, discovering herself and her place among the women as she goes.
Clairee Belcher – late 50s-early 70s. Wealthy widow of the former mayor. She is a grande dame, in the thick of the town’s business and gossip. She hurries for no one, enjoying her status and role in town.
Shelby Eatenton-Latcherie – 20s. Sweet, smart, a bit naïve, and independent. The play opens on her wedding day. She has a loving relationship with her mother, though it is fraught with bickering and testing boundaries.
M’Lynn Eatenton – late 40s-50s. Shelby’s mother and successful career woman. She is strong, respected, opinionated, and (almost) good at biting her tongue. She is the picture of poise, confidence, intelligence, and strength.
Ouiser Boudreaux – 60s-70s. Wealthy curmudgeon. She’s a character who is loveably unlikeable. She’s a big personality, loud, and crass. But deep down, there is a heart. She goes to great lengths to hide it.