GREAT EXPECTATIONS Our Autumn 2103 production is to be GREAT EXPECTATIONS, Hugh Leonard’s capable adaptation of the well-loved Dickens novel.
This will be directed jointly by Kate Lindsey and Jill Richardson, and the Stage Manager will be Jerry Anderson: readings have been arranged for 14th. and 16th. May, and auditions for 20th and 21st May, all at Harpsden Hall, and all starting at 8.00p.m. If you can’t make either audition and would like to be considered for a particular role, please contact Kate
A summary of the roles is below ….. GREAT EXPECTATIONS
Young Pip: Age in the play is 14/15. This part calls for an experienced young actor as he is on stage during much of the action both as the young Pip, and then later takes over as narrator when the older Pip appears. The scene where he meets with the convict Magwitch is iconic as it determines the rest of Pip’s life. A super role.
Older Pip: 25-30 ish. As the early narrator and main protagonist, this is a huge and demanding role. Pip has had a troubled and abused childhood, brought up by his brutal older sister. He meets the young Estella at Miss Havisham’s house and falls hopelessly and obsessively in love with her. He is painfully aware of being lower class and becomes ashamed of his humble origins. He loses sight of his moral compass in his quest to become a gentleman. From then on his life is in turmoil until he finally comes to realise the true values of love and friendship.
Miss Havisham: 40-45 ish. She is very wealthy and eccentric, to the point of being insane. She is an embittered woman after being jilted by her fiancé on her wedding day and has sought revenge on all men ever since. She raises and grooms her adopted daughter, Estella, to break men’s hearts. A powerful role.
Young Estella: Age in the play is 14/15. Again we are looking for a teenager to play Estella in the first part of the play. She is beautiful but spoilt and has been brought up to be cold-hearted and cruel, especially to young Pip who has been invited by Miss Havisham to play with her. They eventually go their separate ways.
Older Estella: 25-30 ish. Estella has grown into a very beautiful woman and has lost nothing of her cold aloofness. She repeatedly tells Pip that she has no heart and announces that she is to marry Bentley Drummle. Pip meets her several years later. Like Pip, her adult life contained many tribulations. Finally her feelings soften towards him.
Joe Gargery: 40-50 ish. Joe, the village blacksmith, “He was a mild, good-natured, sweet-tempered, easy-going, foolish, dear fellow, – a sort of Hercules in strength, and also in weakness”. He, like Pip, constantly falls foul of his wife’s sharp tongue. His love and tenderness towards Pip never diminishes even when the ‘young gentleman’ turns his back on him. In the end Pip is made aware of the debt he owes Joe and seeks forgiveness and reconciliation. They are once more “ever the best of friends”.
Herbert Pocket: 25-30 ish – the same age as Pip. He is a distant relative of Miss Havisham and first encounters young Pip at Satis house. Many years later they meet up again in London and share the same lodgings. He is charged with teaching Pip the ways of being ‘a gentleman’. Herbert is a delightful young man and he and Pip become firm friends. This role brings a lot of lightness and humour to the play. A super character role.
Magwitch: A fearsome criminal and escaped convict who terrorizes Pip when he pounces on him in the cemetery. Magwitch never forgets Pip’s kindness to him in bringing food and drink and many years later, after making his fortune, he tries to repay Pip with money to raise him up out of his lowly roots and to make him ‘a gentleman’. This is a superb character role. Age 50-60ish.
Mrs Joe Gargery: Age 35-40ish. She is a bony, stern, spiteful figure and frequently menaces her husband and her young brother with her cane. She’s ambitious and resents her lowly station of being a mere blacksmith’s wife. She fawns shamelessly upon Mr Pumblechook who she regards as being of a much better class. A strong character part.
Mr Jaggers: Age 50/60 ish. Is lawyer to both Miss Havisham and Magwitch. He is a powerful, foreboding character feared by criminals but not above doing business of a questionable nature with them. He supervises the allowance left by Pip’s benefactor but refuses to reveal who that is. He constantly washes his hands and uses a scented handkerchief – perhaps in an attempt to rid himself of the taint of corruption.
Biddy: A kind-hearted village girl who befriends Pip when as children they attend the local school together and helps Pip with his writing. Although a little older than Pip he thought that if he was never going to marry Estella then Biddy would be the one. She is the opposite to Estella being plain, kind and moral. She nurses Mrs Joe for many years and finally after her death, marries Joe. Age in her 30s (ish)
Mr Pumblechook: He is Joe Gargery’s uncle and therefore uncle-in law to Pip. He’s pompous and arrogant. A corn merchant with his own chaise cart! An avaricious man who shamelessly tries to take the credit for Pip’s rise in fortune and social status because he initially introduced him to Miss Havisham. This is a typical, over the top, Dickensian character. Another great, humorous role. Age over 50.
Wemmick: Clerk to Jaggers. An interesting and demanding role. He has two quite different sides to his character. When in chambers in London he is cold ,severe and businesslike, obsessed with ‘portable property’. At home where he lives with his Aged Parent he changes into a jovial, tender and caring son. He befriends Pip in one of his darkest moments. Age anything between 30-50.
Aged Parent: Age 60 upwards. This is a super cameo role of a kindly, almost totally deaf old man who considers his home as his castle and indeed it is made to look as such with turrets, cannon a mock drawbridge and the flag flying. The scenes with Aged P are among the most amusing of the play.
Molly/Miss Skiffins: These are very small parts. Molly has one line and Miss Skiffins has just a walk-on role Molly is housekeeper to Jaggers and is revealed as Estella’s mother. Miss Skiffins is Wemmick’s lady friend. Molly aged 40ish, Miss Skiffins 20-30ish.
Kate has asked me to say that, apart from the teenage Pip and Estella, all ages are very approximate!