Auditions – NEW!
by Tom Stoppard
Directed by Mat YoungSunday, March 30
Monday, March 31
Westport Community Theatre
Westport Town Hall – 110 Myrtle Avenue
Westport, CT 06880
Arcadia is set in Sidley Park, an English country house, and takes place in both 1809–1812 and the present day. The activities of two modern scholars and the house’s current residents are juxtaposed with the lives of those who lived there 180 years earlier.
In 1809, Thomasina Coverly, the daughter of the house, is a precocious teenager with ideas about mathematics well ahead of her time. She studies with her tutor Septimus Hodge, a friend of Lord Byron (who is himself an unseen guest in the house). In the present, a writer and an academic converge on the house: Hannah Jarvis, the writer, is investigating a hermit who once lived on the grounds; Bernard Nightingale, a professor of literature, is investigating a mysterious chapter in the life of Byron. As their investigations unfold with the help of Valentine Coverly, a post-graduate student in mathematical biology, the truth about what happened in Thomasina’s lifetime is gradually revealed.
The play is set in England so English dialects are necessary. Auditions will consist of reading scenes from the script.
Characters of 1809
Thomasina Coverly: (late teens – early 20s)
The 13 year-old (later 16-year-old) daughter of Lord and Lady Croom, Thomasina is a precocious young genius. She comes to understand chaos theory and theorises the second law of thermodynamics, before either is officially recognised and established in mathematical and scientific communities. Stoppard “apparently based the character on Ada Lovelace (Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace), daughter of Lord Byron. Ada was an English mathematician who conceptualised how Charles Babbage’s Analytical engine could be used.
Septimus Hodge: (20s – 30s)
Thomasina’s tutor and the academic colleague and friend of Lord Byron (an unseen but important character in the play). While teaching Thomasina he works on his own research, and has affairs with the older women of the house. When she is older, he begins to fall in love with her, and after her death it is implied that he becomes the “hermit of Sidley Park”, working on the young girl’s theories until his own death.
Jellaby: The Crooms’ butler at Sidley Park. His chief functions are to spread gossip and to deliver letters.
Ezra Chater: (30s – 40s)
An unsuccessful poetaster staying at Sidley Park. His wife’s romantic affairs lead him to challenge Septimus to a duel. Later, it is revealed that he is the same person as a “Mr. Chater”, the amateur botanist who dies of a monkey bite in Martinique (after he has travelled there with his wife and Captain Brice).
Richard Noakes: (30s – 40s)
Mr. Noakes is Lady Croom’s gardener. Throughout the play he is working on transforming the classical, Arcadia-like landscape of Sidley Park into the Gothic style popular at the time (an idea that Lady Croom begrudgingly agrees to). He is key in discovering and exposing Septimus and Mrs. Chater’s affair.
Lady Croom: (30s – 40s)
Thomasina’s mother, who rules the Coverly estate with an iron fist. There is a good deal of flirtation between her and Septimus (as well as other gentlemen) through the play. A second Lady Croom, Chloe’s mother in the modern half of the play, never appears on stage.
Captain Brice: (40’s – 50s)
The brother of Lady Croom (of 1809) is a sea captain who falls in love with Mrs. Chater. He takes her and her husband to the West Indies at the end of the play. After Mr. Chater’s death, Captain Brice marries Mrs. Chater.
Augustus Coverly: (late teens-Early 20’s)
Augustus is Thomasina’s trouble-making younger brother, who appears in only a few brief scenes. Gus and Augustus are played by the same actor, and span the gap between past and present.
Characters of the present
Hannah Jarvis: (30’s – 40s)
The author of a popular best-seller on Byron’s mistress Lady Caroline Lamb, Hannah is researching the elusive hermit of Sidley Park, who lived in the hermitage there in the early 19th century. Hannah collaborates (sometimes warily) with Bernard (and also with Valentine), though she rejects the romantic advances of both to focus on her work.
Chloe Coverly: (20s)
At 18, Chloe is the modern day equivalent of Thomasina (likewise, she is the daughter of the modern Lady Croom). Like Thomasina, Chloe is very perceptive and intelligent. She proposes a theory that the Newtonian universe does not work because of sex and the problems that it causes between people. Chloe initially tries to set up Hannah and Bernard, but later ends up sleeping with him herself.
Bernard Nightingale: (30s – 50s)
A don at a modern university, Bernard comes to Sidley Park hoping to work with Hannah on his theory about Lord Byron staying at the estate. Foolishly, he disregards searching for further proof of his theories, and, hoping for fame, he announces on TV his theory that Lord Byron killed Ezra Chater in a duel. At the end of the play, Hannah proves him wrong, much to his chagrin.
Valentine Coverly: (20s – 30s)
A graduate student of mathematics, Valentine is Chloe’s older brother. After poring over several old documents, he comes to acknowledge Thomasina’s genius.
Gus Coverly: (late Teens-Early 20’s)
Gus is Valentine and Chloe’s younger brother, who has been mute since the age of five. Gus helps to pass several important props from past to present, and helps connect key moments in the play. Gus and Augustus are played by the same actor, and span the gap between past and present.