Auditions for the Monroe Actors Stage Company’s production of Is He Dead? will be held February 11 and 12, 2019 at the Capitol Theatre, 202 South Main Street in Waterloo, Illinois. The show will be directed by Zona Ludlum.
Performance dates are April 5-7 and 12-14, 2019. Sunday matinees will be staged at 2:30 pm on April 7 and 14.
Is He Dead? adapted by David Ives, is based on a play by Mark Twain. It is a satire/farce, lampooning human greed, deception, languages, and critics in the art world. Mark Twain’s humor includes all techniques known to comedians: absurdity, analogy, hyperbole, farce, irony, parody, puns, wordplay, satire, slapstick, understatement, physicality and prat falls.
The script was rediscovered by Shelley Fisher Fishkin, a Twain scholar at Stanford, who found herself alone in the stacks one day in 2002, “laughing herself silly.” And so she labored to get Twain’s play which had never been staged, produced for Broadway audiences. The show is now making its way through regional and community theatres in the United States.
Is He Dead? focuses on a fictionalized version of the real-life famous French painter, Jean-Francois Millet. Millet is persuaded by his students to fake his death being convinced that the value of his paintings will skyrocket after his demise. The play, set in 1840s in Barbizon, an artist colony, near Paris, tells the story of Millet impersonating his imaginary sister to collect the wealth that is anticipated. Millet's ruse grows more absurd, the plot becomes entangled, love gushes and wanes, and the nonsense continues until it erupts in a glorious moment when Millet is caught dancing in drag on his own coffin. The play is two acts; period costumes, inaccurate and exaggerated accents—German, Irish, British, and French, some crude singing and awkward dancing, lots of physicality.
The script calls for a flexible cast four women and seven men, and three cameos double cast, but can be expanded. The characters range from age 20+ to 70+ for both genders. The physical comedy will require younger actors to be energetic, strong, tough, vigorous— including two of the young women, though less so.
Please prepare a two to three minute comedic monologue, a story or a joke; include gestures and movement. Two or three minutes of stand-up are welcome. Content should be appropriate for a large group. Do not risk offending anyone. Secondly, auditions will require readings from the script. It is expected that actors will come prepared. If you do not excel in cold readings, you will want to read the play and understand the characters. No roles are pre-cast. Actors not prepared with two to three minute monologue can audition, but will be penalized in casting for being unprepared.
The principals will require accents: French, British, German and Irish. It is not expected that accents be accurate—only suggestive. Resumes and headshots will be accepted, but are not required. Forms will be competed at the audition. There are two dates for auditions: you are not required to come to both evenings, but you are welcome to come if you choose to attend both.
Brief Descriptions of Characters
(Principal) Jean-François Millet/Daisy Tillou: Jean-Francois is a gifted starving artist, who fakes his death. He disguises himself as a twin sister, Daisy, the widow Tillou. Wackiness ensues as people fall in love with Daisy. Age: Mid-twenty to forty plus
(Principal) Bastien André: The villain! The artists are in debt to this usurer art dealer. He threatens that unless Marie (Jean-Francois’ girlfriend) marries him, her father will be crushed by the debt he owes. But he is surprised when he meets Daisy and struck with a bolt of love for her and her money. Age: forty plus
(Principal) Papa Leroux: Father to Marie and Cecile, and dear friend to Jean-Francois. Sadly, he is in terrible debt to the villain, Bastien Andre and may have to marry off his oldest daughter to him, though she and Millet are in love. Age: Fifty to sixty plus.
(Principal) Agamemnon Buckner (“Chicago”): Millet’s friend and devoted art student. He cooks up the plot to “kill off” Millet. In love with Cecile, a total prankster and clown. Age: Mid-twenty to forty plus.
(Principal) Marie Leroux: In love with Millet, and daughter to Papa Leroux. Totally trusting and sweet; she refuses to marry Bastien Andre even though it would forgive her father’s debt, because she is so devoted to Millet. Age: Mid-twenty to thirty plus.
(Principal) Hans von Bismarck(“Dutchy”): Devoted friend and student of Millet’s, and fellow creator of the plot to keep Millet painting. Age: Mid-twenty to forty plus German accent.
(Principal) Cecile Leroux: Daughter and sister to Papa Leroux and Marie. Chicago’s sweetheart who suspects infidelity between Daisy and Chicago and disguises herself as a male police officer to discover the truth. Age: Mid-twenty to thirty plus.
(Principal) Phelim O’Shaughnessy: Devoted friend and student of Millet’s and fellow plotter of the scheme. Age: Mid-twenty to forty plus with Irish accent.
(Supporting) Madame Caron: Landlady of Millet. Crushed when she learns of his “illness” and a bit mystified by his sister Daisy. Gestures identical to Bathilde. Attracted to Papa Leroux. Age: Fifty to sixty plus.
(Supporting) Madame Bathilde: Sister and landlady. Crushed when she learns of his “illness” and a bit mystified by his sister Daisy. Gestures identical to M. Caron. Attracted to Papa Leroux Age: Fifty to sixty plus.
(Supporting) Basil Thorpe: A rich English merchant. Considers himself very knowledgeable about art, but he’s not. Age: Thirty to Forty plus with a British accent.
(Supporting) Claude Riviere: A reporter from Le Figaro. Age:Thirty to forty plus with a French accent.
(Supporting) Charlie, a step and fetch servant appears in Act II. He is in disguise and reveals himself near the end as a French inspector. Age: Thirty to forty plus with French accent.
(Cameos) King of France (Cameo)
Sultan of Turkey, Emperor of Russia, (non-speaking Cameos)
A supporting actors will pay multiple roles. Cameos roles will likely be played by supporting actors.
If you have questions, feel free to email the director at laneclass @gmail.com