A Man for All Seasons
Season 2 at The Basin Theatre
Performance dates: May 17, 2019 – June 8, 2019
Director: Malcolm Sussman
Auditions will be held at The Basin Theatre:
7.00 p.m. Sunday, November 25
7.00 p.m. Monday, November 26
7.00 p.m. Tuesday, November 27
Bolt’s version of the events leading up to Sir Thomas More’s execution for high treason makes for a compelling evening of theatre. The heavy themes are leavened by the presence of the Common Man who offers a sardonic commentary on the weighty affairs of state being conducted around him. More, who held the highest office in England as Lord Chancellor, resisted massive political pressure in making a stand for the principles that he believed defined him as a human being. The struggle between More’s conscience and loyalty to King Henry VIII, desperate to legitimise the annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, is at the heart of the play. Nowadays, when politicians globally are held in contempt for their lack of moral scruples, Sir Thomas More, half a millennium before our time, stands as a beacon of light – A man for all seasons!
Characters in the play
Sir Thomas More
Late middle-aged. More is a devout Catholic, scholar, lawyer and statesman. Bolt describes More as a hero of “selfhood” – a man who feels that if he betrays his conscience, he will lose his sense of self and place his mortal soul in peril. His demise is not the act of a martyr but is engineered by Cromwell who does not share More’s reverence for integrity and obeying the letter of the law. More is never dogmatic in his beliefs. He is humane, compassionate and witty but can be sharp-tongued at times.
The Common Man
Middle-aged. An ingenious dramatic device and so much more. On the surface his role would appear to be as narrator/commentator and scene-setter but he interacts with the other characters in the play in a variety of roles. The Common Man lacks any sense of self, but he is a survivor and provides one of the many contrasts to More’s integrity which is a major theme of the play.
Late middle-aged. Like the Duke of Norfolk, Alice is bewildered by her husband’s obduracy and his willingness to plunge the household into penury rather than surrender his principles. She is of the merchant class and is no intellectual. She is perplexed by the intricacies of the affairs of state and is anchored to her role as loyal wife. In extremis she shows she has the heart of a lion.
Margaret Roper (neé More)
In her twenties. A beautiful girl and very close to her father, whom she adores. She is an accomplished scholar in her own right, but is possessed of a charming naiveté. She shelters behind a stillness that is put to the test with her father’s arrest.
Late twenties. Part of the company which follows More at the start of the play. He is an academic and filled with self-doubt. When More refuses to rescue Rich from himself, he follows a different path and becomes Cromwell’s instrument to ensnare More. His lack of scruples enables him to rise in status and he stands in stark contrast to Sir Thomas.
The Duke of Norfolk
Middle-aged. Outdoor type and a powerful nobleman, aware of his own importance. Charming and blustering, forthright and honest. Norfolk does not pretend to understand the complexities of affairs of state. A loyal friend.
Late twenties to thirties. At first suitor and then husband to Margaret. Morally scrupulous at the outset. His dogmatic and inconstant approach to his religious beliefs irks and amuses More. Essentially a good person, but even he is prepared to compromise his principles when push comes to shove.
A little younger than More perhaps. The antagonist in the play, he is ruthless in his pursuit of Sir Thomas. He is a student of Machiavelli and believes the means, however unsavoury, justify the ends. In assisting the King in his divorce from Queen Catherine, he aspires to the high office from which More has been obliged to resign.
Late middle-age. The Spanish ambassador is a career diplomat and ostentatiously religious – a man dressed in black. He is also a meddling spy who completely fails to understand More’s principled stand. Subtle he is not.
Old and decaying in body. A beautiful one scene cameo role. Lord Chancellor of England, he has an intellect that rivals More’s, but has failed to satisfy the King in the matter of a second marriage. He is more a politician than a man of the cloth – the one who passes on the poisoned chalice to Sir Thomas
Late twenties. Another delicious one scene cameo. A far cry from the bloated, self-indulgent despot of later years. Here is a young man at the height of his physical and intellectual powers. He is witty and handles his absolute power with likeable aplomb; however, there are hints of the bombast that will undermine his character in later life.
Historically a man in his forties but could be played older. Leader of the English reformation and Archbishop of Canterbury during Henry VIII’s reign. An ecclesiastical administrator, mechanically religious.
Mature. Bitter and vindictive
Late teens. (May be cut from the script if a suitable youngster is not available.) Eagerly ingenuous.
Should you have any queries about the production or would like to audition and cannot attend on the dates scheduled above, please ring Malcolm on 0417 141 803. I am prepared to meet with you at a mutually convenient time.
I have copies of the script which can be forwarded to you upon request.