THE DUCHESS OF MALFI
by John Webster
by John Webster
Image: Copyright Philip Mould & Company
Tue 2 - Sat 6 April 2019 at 7.30pm
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Sheep Street, Northampton NN1 3NL
Friday 18 January at 7.30pm
Burns Street Studios,
9 Burns Street,
Northampton NN1 3QF
Anyone can audition for Masque Theatre productions. If cast, you will be required to become a member of the group.
For more information about this production, contact the director, John Myhill, on 07802 399884
John Webster, a contemporary of Shakespeare, wrote Duchess around 1613, and it was performed at The Globe with actors from Shakespeare’s company, including Burbage and Condell.
The play focuses on the recently widowed Duchess in a period when widows were effectively the only women with power and property in their own right, being otherwise the property (literally) of their fathers, brothers or husbands.
Her own brothers (a cardinal and a duke, i.e. church and state), want to re-assert control over her after the death of her husband and demand that she agrees not to remarry. In the case of the duke there are also suggestions of incestuous desires towards his sister as an ulterior motive.
Instead, she secretly marries her steward Antonio, a capable and kind man who is willing to remain a secret husband and not demand control of her.
Learning of this, her brothers plot their revenge, with the help of Bosola who begins to doubt his calling as a spy and assassin.
Violent and poetical, The Duchess of Malfi is often cited as one of the greatest tragedies of Renaissance drama.
Download my edited version of Webster's script:
Download the audition pieces:
The characters below are in approximate order of most lines (the script has now been edited so these are the final lines and give a good indication of the size of each role). Audition piece numbers are shown in italics – some characters have more than one.
Characters are shown as male or female but in most cases I am willing to consider casting actors of any gender as long as they can play the role convincingly. In some cases I have put a few characters together in a 'package' role'.
• DANIEL DE BOSOLA, spy and assassin. 433 lines, - male, but could be played by a female actor, 20s or 30s. Audition Pieces 5, 8 & 9
• DUCHESS OF MALFI. 356 lines (also Echo) – female, the main character, could be played any age from 20 – 40+. Audition Pieces 2 & 3
• ANTONIO BOLOGNA, Steward of the Household to the Duchess. 279 lines – male, any age from 20-40+. Audition Pieces 3 & 4
• FERDINAND, Duke of Calabria, twin brother to the Duchess. 276 lines – male, similar age to Duchess. Audition Pieces 1, 2 & 6
• CARDINAL, the Duchess’s older brother. 171 lines – male, 30 – 50+. Audition Pieces 2 & 8
• DELIO, friend to Antonio. 131 lines, male, but could be played by female actor, any age 20 – 40+. Audition Piece 4
• JULIA, Castruccio's wife, and the Cardinal's mistress. 92 lines – female, around 20s/30s. Audition Piece 5
• MARQUIS OF PESCARA. 48 lines – male, but could be played by female actor, any age. Audition Piece 6
• DOCTOR. 44 lines (also 1st Pilgrim) – could be female or male, any age. Audition Piece 6
• CARIOLA, servant to the Duchess. 43 lines – female, 20s/30s. Audition Piece 3
• 'Primus' – plays 1st Servant, 1st Officer, 1st Madman, and 2nd Pilgrim, 31 lines – predominantly male characters but could be played by female actor, any age. Audition Pieces 7 & 10
• COUNT MALATESTI. 28 lines (also 3rd Servant) – male, but could be played by female actor, any age. Audition Piece 6
• Old Lady. 25 lines (also 4th Servant) – female, older character, 60+ playing age. Audition Pieces 7 & 9
• CASTRUCCIO, an old Lord. 24 lines (also 4th Madman) – male, older character, 60+ playing age. Audition Pieces 1 & 7
• SILVIO, a lord, 21 lines (also 1st Executioner) – male, but could be played by female actor, any age. Audition Piece 1
• 'Secundus' – plays 2nd Servant, 2nd Officer, 2nd Madman, 21 lines, – predominantly male characters but could be played by female actor, any age. Audition Pieces 7 & 10
• RODERIGO, a lord, 15 lines (also 2nd Executioner, non speaking) – male, but could be played by female actor, any age. Audition Piece 1
• 'Tertius' – plays 3rd Officer and 3rd Madman, 10 lines– could be played by male or female actor, any age. Audition Piece 7
If necessary some additional doubling up can be done – Rodrigo could double with 'Tertius', Old Lady could double with Doctor/1st Pilgrim, or Doctor/1st Pilgrim could double with 'Secundus' or 'Tertius'.