Three Tall Women
by Edward Albee
directed by Ian Amos
Auditions: Monday 16 & Wed 18 August at 7pm
Performance dates: Friday 10 to Saturday 18 December 2021
Rehearsing from early/mid October
Three Tall Women is set in an apartment in New York in the 1990s. It is a deeply autobiographical work dealing with Albee’s relationship with his adoptive mother, Frances (Frankie). It is packed with real details – his mother was a mannequin at a department store, his father was a serial adulterer and did have a glass eye. Albee even includes himself in the play in the (silent) role of the son who like Albee has run away from home.
Three Tall Women offers three large women’s roles (‘A’ and ‘B’ and ‘C’). All are on stage for most of the play. All have at least one major monologue. The play is quite static – the action is in the stories being told and the interaction between the women. There is wit and harshness in their banter, pain and joy and laughter in their recollection of events. In Act One they are three separate characters – and in a coup de theatre (spoiler alert! please keep this to yourself) – in Act Two they come together to form a portrait of one women (‘A’) at various (st)ages of her life.
‘A’/playing age 92
Female. American. A grand dame. Married well, prosperous. In Act One – she is frail as she walks and continually in pain from her arm. At times, her mind and wit are sharp, or she wanders back through her life – or becomes confused about time and place and even her own age. She remembers details of her marriage, their sex life. Her views are right-wing and unreconstructed. She is racist – but doesn’t understand why she is being criticized for it, by C especially. In Act Two she has thrown-off all the frailties of mind and body. She is a fully vigorous older woman. She has learnt the lessons of a long life. There is a certain strength and calm in her wisdom.
‘B’/playing age 52
Female. American. In Act One she is the hard-nosed carer of A. Practical, comforting when necessary but guarded – it’s a job – but probably a well-paid one. She chastises A like a child. She checks to see if she has had an accident (which she at times has). In Act Two she is the middle-aged ‘A’ (in late 1950s) – showing ‘C’ what she will become and seeing in ‘A’ her own future. Disillusioned – a husband’s affairs, her own sweaty encounter with her groom. Harder, more cynical about life.
‘C’/playing age 26
Female. American. In Act One she has been sent over from A’s accountants to help sort out the mess of her financial records. She is not impressed by A. Perhaps rather disgusted at her wealth, age and frailty. Both A and B give her a hard time. In Act Two she is (‘A’ as) a hopeful young women starting out in the city (in the early 1930s), full of optimism, discovering freedom and sex – that will become ‘B’ that will become ‘A’.
The Boy/playing age 23
Male. A SILENT role! Preppy American college boy. Needs to briefly show some emotion. Will involve attending very few rehearsals – mostly towards the end of the rehearsal period. This role could be played by someone acting as SM/DSM/ASM on the show.
This may be ‘played’ by a mannequin OR could be played by a man (with no facial hair!) or a woman and involves being on stage (in bed) for the whole of Act Two without moving (that is a challenge!). Someone could just do this part – or they could combine it with being an ASM or possibly the SM on the show.]