The Children's Hour
Produced by Special Arrangement with Sonia Friedman Productions
By Lillian Hellman
Directed by Anthony Brown
The Children's Hour is a 1934 American play by Lillian Hellman. It is a drama set in an all-girls boarding school run by two women, Karen Wright and Martha Dobie. An angry student, Mary Tilford, runs away from the school and to avoid being sent back she tells her grandmother that the two headmistresses are having a lesbian affair. The accusation proceeds to destroy the women's careers, relationships and lives.
MARTHA DOBIE (25-30 years old)
Karen Wright’s friend and co-owner of their school, Martha is about the same age, twenty-eight. She is described as “nervous” and “high strung” and is certainly far less composed and self-assured than her friend. It quickly becomes obvious that she greatly depends on Karen’s emotional stability and good sense to provide her with the confidence needed to make a go of their school.
KAREN WRIGHT (25-30)
Karen Wright is Martha Dobie’s close friend and partner in the Wright-Dobie School. She is twenty-eight, attractive, warm, and outgoing. She is admired and respected by her students, for whom she has a genuine affection. She is also an emotionally stable woman, at ease with herself and others.
JOSEPH CARDIN (26-33 years old)
Cardin, about thirty-five, is a relaxed and amiable doctor and Karen Wright’s fiance. His casual dress reflects his warm, easy-going nature. He is also gracious and humorous and seems ideally suited to Karen.
LILY MORTAR (45-55 years old)
Hellman describes Lily Mortar as “a plump, florid woman of forty-five.” She is Martha Dobie’s aunt and teaches at the Wright-Dobie School. A self-centered woman, she lives in romanticized delusions of her past triumphs as an actress. She is also vain and very susceptible to flattery, an easy patsy for a conniving student like Mary Tilford. She refuses to grow old gracefully, dying her hair and dressing too fancifully for her reduced circumstances.
AGATHA (55-65 years old)
A no-nonsense, middle-aged maid in the employ of Amelia Tilford. She is stern and straight-laced with Mary, who calls her “stupid,” although Agatha clearly sees through Mary’s deceptions. Agatha’s attempts to make the child into a “lady” are frustrated by Mrs. Tilford, who is deaf to the maid’s common-sense observations. Agatha also attempts to support Martha and Karen in their efforts to convince Mrs. Tilford that Mary concocted her story to destroy the young teachers.
MRS. AMELIA TILFORD (60’s)
A wealthy widow, Mrs. Tilford is a large, dignified woman in her sixties. She has been an influential supporter of the Wright-Dobie School, where her granddaughter, Mary, is enrolled. Although she is a fair and generous person, she lacks good judgment when it comes to matters concerning her granddaughter. She recognizes that Mary is both spoiled and manipulative, but she dotes on the child and is utterly blind to the girl’s vicious nature.
MARY TILFORD (12-14)
The spoiled granddaughter of Amelia Tilford, Mary is a problem child at the Wright- Dobie School. She appears “undistinguished,” but she is clever and used to having her own way with her doting grandmother. She also attempts to manipulate everyone at the school, resorting to a variety of tricks, including flattery, feigned sickness, blackmail, physical intimidation, and whining complaints.
ROSALIE WELLS (12-14)
Rosalie, a student at the Wright-Dobie School, appears first in the hectic scene opening the play, having her hair badly trimmed by Evelyn Munn. Unlike Peggy and Evelyn, she is not cowed by Mary Tilford,
whom she does not like.
HELEN BURTON (12-14)
One of the girls at Karen and Martha’s school, it is her bracelet that classmate Rosalie Wells “borrows.” This incident allows Mary to blackmail Rosalie into confirming Mary’s lies about Karen and Martha. Helen is one of the first to be pulled out of the school when Mrs. Tilford begins spreading the fiction that Karen and Martha are lovers.
Catherine is one of the students at the Wright-Dobie School. She appears only in the first scene, where she attempts to help Lois prepare for a Latin test. The Latin lesson contributes to the chaotic lack of discipline in Mortar’s classroom, revealing Lily’s incompetence as a teacher.
LOIS FISHER (12-14)
Another of Karen and Martha’s students, she receives Lain tutoring from Catherine at the play’s opening, conjugating Latin in hectic counterpoint to Peggy Roger’s reading of Portia’s “quality of mercy ” speech from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice and Lily Mortar’s languid criticism. Like Catherine, she plays no significant role in the rest of the drama.
The unnamed grocery boy makes a very brief appearance in the last scene, carrying a box of groceries into the school’s living room. He is almost mute, but his puerile gawking and giggling are indicative of the damage done to the reputations of Karen and Martha as a result of Mary’s accusations.
EVELYN MUNN (12-14)
One of the girls at the Wright-Dobie School, Evelyn is first encountered in the opening scene, in which she mangles Rosalie Wells’ hair with a pair of scissors. Evelyn, who lisps, is relatively quiet and timid. With Peggy Rogers, she overhears the conversation between Martha Dobie and Lily Mortar; the overheard conversation becomes the keystone in the malicious arch of lies that Mary Tilford constructs. Like Peggy, Evelyn is a victim of Mary’s intimidation, which, at the end of the first act, turns to physical abuse. When Mary attempts to extort money from Peggy, Evelyn tries to interfere and is slapped in the face for her efforts.
PEGGY ROGERS (12-14)
A student at the Wright-Dobie School, Peggy, like Evelyn Munn, is easily intimidated by Mary Tilford. She appears in the opening scene, where, under Lily Mortar’s tutelage, she tries to read Portia’s famous speech on the quality of mercy. Unimaginative, she shows little interest in Shakespeare Her grandest aspiration is to marry a lighthouse keeper. Peggy is with Evelyn when they overhear the fateful conversation between Martha Dobie and her aunt. Thereafter the pair confide in Mary, who immediately puts her malicious scheme into operation by extorting money from Peggy, who was saving it for a bicycle.
1st, 8th 15th February at 7pm (15th at 2pm & 7pm)
and will be staged at John Lees Centre,15 Evan Street, Penrith.
Saturday, 10th August 2019
at John Lees Centre, Level 1, 15 Evan Street, Penrith
(by appointment only).
Applicants should note that reading the play prior to their audition would be highly advantageous.
An audition piece will be given to every auditionee.
It is expected that the auditionee will learn the lines of the audition piece and
present it on an agreed date with the director.
We are looking for high standard of performance for each of the roles.
A rehearsal schedule is prepared and will be given on first response to any enquiries made by an auditionee.
It is a clever idea to come to auditions in character, dress/shoes/hair,
anything that you feel is appropriate for the role you are seeking.
An audition piece will be sent out from Anthony once an audition time slot has been sorted.
For further information or to book an audition time,
please email Anthony at: firstname.lastname@example.org