|Audition Notice||A Passage to India||
by Martin Sherman
Simona Hughes joined the Tower in 2002, during its last year in its
former Canonbury home, and has since served on the company committee and acted in some 13 productions, including
Absent Friends, The Lady from the Sea, Julius Caesar, Dinner, Her Naked Skin, Baba Shakespeare and
Comic Potential. Simona has directed Little Nell, Brontë, Love, Love, Love and, most recently, Table
for the Tower. She has also directed at Theatre 503 and at The Bread and Roses.
Simona has recently completed a 2 year MFA in Advanced Theatre Practice at the Royal Central School of
Speech and Drama.
The director writes :
This brilliantly supple, layered and impressionistic adaptation of E.M. Forster's 1924 classic about British colonialism in India, was written in 2002 for the theatre company Shared Experience. Forster's novel was a study in the emotional and spiritual gulf between the British colonials and their Indian subjects. Moreover, it explores how tragically the arrogance, hypocrisy and insular philistinism of British colonials thwarted any attempts at a genuine understanding and connection across cultures. A theme that resonates painfully now in 2019 Britain - A Passage to India invites us to think critically about our relationship with the world and our relationship to ourselves.
Adela Quested has accompanied her fiancé's mother, Mrs Moore, on a trip to Chandrapore, India, in order to become better acquainted with her son, the local magistrate, Ronny Heaslop, before committing to marrying him. While there, both Adela and Mrs Moore are frustrated in their desire to see the "real India", discovering the British community to be insular and barricaded against any real contact with the "natives". Mr Fielding, who teaches at the college, proves the exception to the rule and introduces Adela to the lively and enthusiastic Dr Aziz, who suggests an outing to the Marabar caves, after which fateful day, all their lives change irrevocably.
Martin Sherman's text elegantly weaves back and forth in time and place, skilfully delivering this rich and complex story through an imagistic theatrical language, rich with symbols, in which the real and imagined often collapse into each other and nothing is quite as it seems.
I am holding open auditions and looking for a diverse company of actors who are able to work creatively and collaboratively to find solutions to some of the exciting challenges offered by this script. The rehearsal process will start with an intensive period of movement, devising and team building to strengthen the ensemble. I have already assembled a brilliant team of creatives, including a recently graduated movement director from Royal Central School of Speech and Language.
The characters are :
Dr Aziz [Male, 30s] : A rich, complex character who is transformed by the events of the play. An Indian, a Muslim and a doctor at the local hospital, Aziz is initially excitable and impetuous, he is also especially courteous and eager to please with the British. We sense that he is highly strung, sensitive and has a big heart that is easily moved and offered up to others. He is devoted to Mrs Moore and to Fielding, with whom it is hinted that he feels more than brotherly love. After the trauma of the trial, he is made cynical, hardened and wounded, he no longer knows who to trust. In his own words, he journeys from child to man over the course of the two-year story.
Cyril Fielding [Male, 40s] : A British recent arrival, and the principle at the local college, Fielding is kind, intelligent and sensitive to those around him. He instinctively shuns the expat scene and its trappings, avoiding the 'club' whenever possible, he is regarded with something of suspicion, "a disruptive force" by its loyal members. Fielding, not afraid to ruffle feathers by being true to himself, describes himself as a "hermit" and is well liked and trusted among the Indian community. It is hinted that he came out to India possibly as an escape from an unrequited love for a woman back home. His friendship with Aziz comes to mean a lot to him, and his loyalty to him deep and steadfast but not blind, as he is ultimately ruled by a sense of fair mindedness and integrity.
Adela Quested [Female, 20s/30s] : Adela is another character who undergoes a significant emotional journey over the course of the play. She is very recently arrived from Britain when we first meet her, and somewhat overly earnest and naïve. Her determination to uncover the "real India" seems to rapidly result in her find herself out of her depth. Torn between her sensible, practical head and her deeper, unconscious longings, Adela ultimately decides that "India is a muddle", but in fact it is probably her that is in the biggest "muddle". Coming from a "literary set" in Hampstead, Adela finds the expat scene stifling and "snobbish" in its attitudes and is herself more allied to her fiancé's mother than to him in her reluctance to embrace it. Whatever pain and chaos Adela brings to Aziz and the whole community with her confused accusations, she in most ways redeems herself in the end, risking alienation and abandonment among the British community in her determination to right a wrong.
Ronny Heaslop [Male, 30s] : Adela's fiancé and the local magistrate, Ronny, much to the shock of his mother and Adela, is someone who typifies the British community's bigotry, and regards the "natives" as "unreliable, naïve and untrustworthy". (We can only imagine that back home his attitudes were milder, his true colours less evident, or why else would Adela ever have contemplated marriage with him…). In India, Ronny enjoys the elevated position of magistrate, presumably not one he would have access to at his age in England, and possibly the power has gone to his head. However, Ronny is by no means the worst member of the expat community, and his admiration of Adela's "individuality" goes someway to setting him apart - somewhere buried deep he perhaps did inherit a fraction of his mother's open mind…. The same actor will also play Ralph, Ronny's younger half-brother, (whose sister, Stella, goes on to marry Fielding). Ralph has inherited his mother's instincts for people and, we are told, her restlessness.
Mrs Moore [Female 60s/70s] : Ronny's mother, Mrs Moore is twice widowed, with 2 more children Stella and Ralph (the latter we meet in the epilogue) by her second marriage. When we first meet her, she displays an affable curiosity in her surroundings. Her natural spiritualism gives her an instinctive empathy and rapport with the locals that she meets, especially with Aziz, with whom she shares a deep connection. Whether through her abhorrence of her son's behaviour and all that he has come to represent in this setting, or through her creeping ill health, we witness her gradual undoing over the course of the play: by the end she is cynical, restless and nihilistic, longing to be rid of all petty, worldly encumbrances.
Professor Narayan Godbole [Male 40s-plus] : The only Hindu character in the play, the professor teaches music and poetry at the college and considers himself a true friend of Dr Aziz. As a mystic, Godbole serves as a linking narrator, who addresses the audience throughout the play. At times deeply spiritual at other times elusive to the point of being mischievous, we sense that Godbole enjoys being non-committal and generating mystery. The same actor will also play Burton, who is Godbole's British nemesis, a fan of military control and of "letting natives die ..." And Amritario, the "notoriously anti-British" barrister from Calcutta who defends Aziz.
Hamidullah [Male, 40s-plus] : Hamidullah works in the law courts and is a fellow Muslim and close friend of Dr Aziz. Experience has taught him to be weary and cynical of the British, who may pretend at friendliness, but pretty quickly show their true colours. (Fielding, also his friend, being the great exception to the rule).
Mahmoud Ali [Male, 40s-plus] : A Muslim lawyer who co-defends (with Amritario) Aziz in the trial and also his friend. Like Hamidullah, he is deeply cynical of the British and together they tease Aziz for being too fond and generous in his opinions of them.
Mr Turton [Male, 40s-plus] : The head of the British civil administration in Chandrapore, Turton hosts the "bridging party" a hollow attempt to forge bonds between the two estranged communities. As a senior official he makes a play at being fair but is in fact as blinded by prejudice as the worst of the club members. The same actor will also play Mc Bride, the police superintendent who prosecutes in the trial against Dr Aziz, who declares as a statement of scientific fact that the "darker races are physically attracted by the fairer, but not vice versa".
Das [Male 20s/30s] : The Indian assistant magistrate who has been "trained" by Ronny Heaslop, described by the playwright as "cultivated, self-conscious and conscientious". Das is given the unenviable task of residing over the trial of Dr Aziz, as Ronny explains: "conviction is inevitable, better let an Indian pronounce it". The same actor will also play Rafi, the young, enthusiastic nephew of Mahmoud Ali.
Mrs Turton [Female, 40s-plus] : Unlike her husband, Mrs Turton doesn't bother to disguise her prejudice and is dishonest to boot, taking bribes from Indians but renages on her side of the deal. She is particularly vicious to Adela when the trial collapses. The same actor will also play Miss Derrek a more frivolous British woman who works for a maharaja as a "companion" to his maharanee and tends to Adela while she is in trauma and Mrs Bhattacharya an Indian guest at the Bridging party.
We are looking for the following :
Assistant Stage Manager(s)
Lighting and Sound Operators
If you are interested in any of these roles or in being involved in the show in any other capacity please contact the Director, Simona Hughes.