Auditions

Auditions: Saturday 4th November 2017

Time: from 11.00am to 4.00pm. Please contact Sue Miller to book audition time.

Auditions will be in small groups.

Please download the Audition Sheet at bottom of page and bring with you.

At: Toi Poneke, 61-69 Abel Smith St, Wellington

Rehearsals: From 23 January, Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons.

Shows: 4th -14th April 2018

Directed by Joanne Lisik. For further information including copies of the script contact Sue Miller at kotuku.media@xtra.co.nz or 027 451 0339.

OUR COUNTRY’S GOOD

BBC Play of the Year winner and Tony Award nominee, Our Country’s Good was written in 1988 by British playwright Timberlake Wertenbaker, adapted from the Thomas Keneally novel, The Playmaker. Set in late 1700s Australia, and inspired by actual events, British Royal Marines travel with a shipload of convicts to New South Wales to set up the first penal colony. This was the first of 11 fleets that sailed, transporting over 164,000 convicts in 80 years.

Our Country’s Good explores ideas of punishment and the contemporary judicial system. Over a period of six months, the convicts put on a production of George Farquhar’s 1706 play The Recruiting Officer and discover the role theatre can play in their struggle to retain their humanity. The play is an advocate for the arts, winning BBC Play of the Year in 1988 and was nominated for six Tony Awards. It is compelling, emotional, heartbreaking and funny.

Casting: All parts except Ralph Clark and the Aboriginal character are doubled. Ages are a rough guide only.

 

Officers Convicts M/F
Second Lieutenant Ralph Clark RM (Marine Regiment)   M
Captain Phillip RN (Royal Navy) John Wisehammer M
Major Robbie Ross MR Ketch Freeman M
Captain David Collins MR Robert Sideways M
Captain Watkin Tench MR John Caesar (aka Black Caesar) M
Midshipman Harry Brewer RN John Arscott M
Captain Jeremy Campbell MR Meg Long F
Reverend Johnson Mary Brenham F
Lieutenant George Johnson MR Ann Smith (aka Duckling Smith) F
Lieutenant Will Dawes MR Liz Morden F
Second Lieutenant William Faddy MR Dabby Bryant F
Aboriginal Australian M/F

 

 Character Descriptions: The larger role of the two double roles has been listed first.

Officer: Second Lieutenant Ralph Clark (20’s) He initially wants to put on the play to impress his Captain but soon realizes that rehearsing the play is changing him as much as the convicts. An ambitious, inexperienced officer who has a strong sense of duty and plagued by homesickness.. Ralph goes on an emotional journey and gains strength and stature through his experiences in the play. He has a love scene with Mary and will need take his shirt off and learn a close simple movement sequence with Mary expressing their desire for each other. A really interesting, complex role.
One of two roles that is not doubled.
Officer: Midshipman Harry Brewer (20’s, 30’s) A low ranking officer – Provost Marshal in Sydney. Before securing this post Harry had been the oldest midshipman in the Navy, a post usually held by children and teenagers and is ridiculed by many of the senior officers. He is friends however with Ralph and confides in him. He is an alcoholic and has hanged convicts in the past. Like many of the convicts and officers, he suffers from loneliness. He is haunted by the ghost/memory of Handy Baker, a man he hanged which clouds the relationship he has with Duckling, a female convict. This attention is often overbearing as he is possessive in his loneliness. Interesting, emotional part. Could have a British aisles accent, Devon, Cockney, Irish, Welsh, but not Scottish.
Doubles as
Convict: John Arscott (any age) A convict with a determination to escape the colony. Uneducated and naive, his innocence is used against him.  Whilst a relatively small role, he begins and ends the play with two poignant speeches that highlight the plight of the convicts and their journey to foreign soils.
Officer: Captain Arthur Phillip (40’s +) The governor-in chief of New South Wales. Phillip is the highest ranking authority figure. He rules with a firm but fair hand and believes that civilisation is founded in culture not punishment. He initiates the idea of putting on a play as he believes that it will give the convicts and education and the opportunity to reform. Educated, well spoken, standard English or received pronunciation, leader figure.
Doubles as
Convict: John Wisehammer, quiet and gentle character, who loves language and poetry, and is in love with Mary Brenham. Wisehammer is a convict who claims his innocence and does not have the hard, brash exterior that the women in particular possess. Well and softly spoken.
Officer: Major Robbie Ross (30’s +) Is very much against the idea of the play. Feels that the convicts are nothing more than animals and shows them no respect. Is secure enough in his position to argue with his superior and is a powerful threatening figure for the convicts and junior officers. Imposing presence and voice. Scottish accent.
Doubles as
Convict: Ketch Freeman, an Irish convict who straddles the line between the officers and the convicts and fits in with neither group. He is hated by the convicts as well as the officers. He is, himself a convict, but ordered to take on the job of ‘hangman’, which ostracises him from the convict community. He has lived his life, desperately making attempts to fit in and once again is shunned by society. Irish accent.
Convict: Robert Sideway, (any age) a pickpocket, born and bred in Bermondsey in South East London. Sideway is a convict with a great affinity for the Arts. He really enjoys the play rehearsals and leads the way in showing the convicts how to perform on stage (albeit melodramatically!). Sideway likes to be centre of attention. He is a comical character due to his enthusiasm for life but this makes the more tragic moments of the play more distressing to watch – including the whipping that he receives at the opening of the play and the moment where Ross reveals the scars across Sideways back, later. Cockney accent – although he likes to think he is well spoken.
Doubles as
Officers: Captain David Collins (any age) A former Judge,  well respected and the voice of reason amongst the authorities. Collins listens to others, seeks a fair court and could be considered forward thinking. He leads much of the discussion between the officers in Scene 6. Intelligent, well spoken, standard English or received pronunciation.
Officer: Captain Jemmy Campbell, (any age) another Scottish officer. He doesn’t manage to say very much that is coherent and he is usually very drunk. He does, however, like to stir up trouble and slurs responses to cast his disdain for the convicts and play, often supporting the views of Major Robbie Ross.
Doubles as
Convict: Meg Long (Shitty Meg), (any age), but ideally older) Described in the play as being ‘very old and very smelly’. A comical cameo role. A revolting woman with no sense of boundaries and no awareness of hygiene. Meg invades Ralph’s personal space and offers to find him any woman he wants – to do whatever he wants. She is repulsive and intrusive in every possible way. She provides a moment of comic relief if played well, common London accent.
Convict: Black Caesar (any age). A convict who originates from Madagascar. He feels separated from his homeland, is lonely for his ancestors and keen to return home. He hates the idea of dying in Australia. Caesar is another representative of the many outcasts from society and longs to belong. He pledges his duty to the play in order to join with others. A comical cameo role with poignant undertones. Black actor needed with French accent.
Doubles as
Officer: Captain Watkin Tench, an opinionated officer who believes that convicts are criminals and cannot be redeemed. He is sceptical about the play and keen to voice his opinion on the matter. Educated, well spoken, standard English or received pronunciation.
Convict: Duckling Smith, (18-20) A young convict who has a complicated relationship with the officer Harry Brewer. She is a feisty character, but dead inside. She is in love with a man who tries to control her. Maintaining her relationship with Harry enables her better food and living conditions but she is not grateful for his attention, finding it controlling. In moments she is stubborn and blocks him out and at other times she flirts with him to get her way. Duckling is Harry’s comfort in times of distress but she does not realise that he is hers until after she has lost him. Need to learn choreographed sequence with Harry – an emotional part.
Doubles as
Officer: Lieutenant George Johnston, a minor character, one of the officers. Could have any British isles accent.
Liz Morden (late 20’s, 30’s) A hard, stubborn and aggressive female convict with a challenging history. Having always been treated badly, it is the only way Liz knows to treat others in order to survive. She does not need to be liked or wanted because she has never known what it is like to belong and aggressively rejects opportunities for that to change. She has a strong sense of pride and loyalty and will not lose face in front of anyone – even at the expense of her own life. A very challenging physical role with an in depth monologue. London cockney accent.
Doubles as:
Lieutenant Will Dawes, a minor character. An officer, preoccupied with the stars and the wider universe. Need standard English or received pronunciation.
Dabby Bryant (late 20’s) Optimistic and likeable convict who can turn nasty and intimidating in an instant if challenged. Dabby is loyal and proud. She greatly misses Devon and realises how wonderful England is now that it has been taken away from her. She takes Mary under her wing and is possessive of her friend, talking for her, bossing her around and teasing her in front of others. Devonshire accent.
Doubles as:
Second Lieutenant William Faddy, a minor character. He is the same rank as Ralph and determined to remind Ralph about this. He makes snide remarks about Ralph sucking up to the Governor and points out his flaws at every opportunity. A cynical and bitter personality. Standard English or received pronunciation.
Mary Brenham (18-20) A young, sweet, shy but determined girl who relishes the opportunities that rehearsing the play gives her. She is one of the few convicts that can read and she speaks well. She is loyal to her fellow convicts and forms a strong attachment to Ralph, the director and grows greatly in confidence throughout the play. Mary has a love scene with Ralph and will need to perform a close movement sequence with him expressing their desire for each other.
Double as:
Reverend Johnson, referred to as the ‘moral guide’ on the colony. Reverend Johnson shares his views on the proposed play, only to have his words twisted by the other officers. He considers the civilisation of the convicts appropriate if the methods support the Church and its work. He naively supports the choice of play because it ‘sanctions holy matrimony’ but struggles to make his point heard that he would like to read the play first. In the original novel he is a young, naive reverend, pompous, high class English accent.
An Aboriginal Australian (any age or gender) A small roll in term of dialogue, but an important parts as they serve as a reminder that all these Europeans have infiltrated this country and are serving as agents of oppression. The part of the Aborigine will be expanded from what is in the text to serve as a watcher of many scenes, commenting through emotion, movement and gesture on the action of the play. If the role is played by a woman she will need to be happy with only wearing a grass loin cloth covering her lower half.  This actor will not be needed at every rehearsal, your time commitment will be mostly at the start and the end of the rehearsal process.
One of two roles that is not doubled.

 

Director – Joanne Lisik (joannedebbie@gmail.com)

 Joanne Lisik is senior Drama teacher at Chilton St. James School.
Her directing credits include Blue Remembered Hills, 2B Or Not 2B, Eating the Wolf, Scattered Lives and The Crucible. Joanne has performed in many plays and shows over the last 15 years with her most recent performances being in 12 Angry Men at Porirua Theatre, and Evita at the Wellington Opera House.
Originally from the UK, she received her B.A. Honours Degree in Creative Arts, followed by a Postgraduate Diploma in Musical Theatre. Joanne has worked as a singer, dancer and actor and was owner and manager of two Stagecoach Theatre Arts Schools for Children in Bristol, UK.

 

auditionsheet