Production Manager: Tamsin Mastoris
Director: Mark Wilson
Following its sell-out run at this year’s Edinburgh Festival, this wholly new production will be staged at NVT from February 14 – 22
(Matinee performance only on Sunday 16 Feb. No performance Monday 17 Feb. Possibility of an additional matinee on Saturday 22 Feb)
Audition dates: Saturday 26 & Sunday 27 October - 11 am – 5 pm
Recalls: Saturday 2 November - 2 pm – 6 pm
1854, the criminal wing of Bethlem Asylum. Two young doctors, Charles Hood and George Haydon campaign for a more enlightened approach to patients’ treatment than the medieval horrors of Victorian medicine. Two inmates, the radical writer and poet, Emily Clayton and the artist, Richard Dadd become the victims of this struggle as both sides of the medical debate struggle for dominance.
‘Talk’ is a play about the beginnings of Psychotherapy. It’s about the importance of our stories and the importance of being able to tell those stories so that we might come to live alongside them and the pain they can cause. Above all it’s a play about the curative value of being heard. In that sense it is universal.
CHARLES HOOD, Doctor at Bethlem. (30s). The senior of the two doctors, he’s ambitious and utterly dedicated to the promotion of his enlightened approach. The arc of the play for him, however, is his shift towards sacrificing his friendship with Haydon in favour of the promotion of his ideas. There is also, we suspect, the ever-present anxiety for him that he might be wrong and he is plagued by that uncertainty. Whatever he might like us to think, he is not a man at ease with himself.
GEORGE HAYDON, Doctor at Bethlem and junior in terms of hierarchy. (30s) As keen for reform as Hood, but becomes increasingly drawn towards the possibilities of ‘talking with patients’ after his encounter with Emily Clayton and her conversations with Richard Dadd. He is far less certain than Hood, guided more by instinct and professional hunch and that can corrode his confidence when attempting to promote his ideas. His relationship with his patients is less formal than Hood’s and we suspect that he has little time for the formalities of the doctor/patient protocols.
Contrary to the popular view of the ‘uptight’ Victorians, this was a hugely exciting time for ideas. It was the young – and they were usually men – who drove the scientific, artistic, medical thinking of the day.
EMILY CLAYTON, inmate, poet. (30s/50s). Promotes a belief in the recognition of childhood experience – ‘our stories’ - in understanding the emotional self. She is increasingly seen as a threat both to Hood and his reforms and the medical establishment at Bethlem. As a character we never really know how ill she is. Committed to Bethlem by her husband – a common means of disposing of a ‘troublesome’ wife at that time – we will never know the impact upon her of the loss of her children and the regime at Bethlem. The age range reflects the fact that we can not be certain how long Emily has been in Bethlem – how old the memory of her incarceration. As such the part is open to how the actor chooses to interpret the character’s context.
RICHARD DADD, inmate, artist. (40s/50s) Committed to Bethlem following his conviction for his father’s murder. Richard Dadd suffered from what might now be described as Bipolar Disorder although it is difficult to be precise. This involved periods of what might have passed for seemingly normal behaviour whilst at other times have seen the patient manifest symptoms of depression as well as periods of manic elation.
JANET GREY, Ward Sister on the women’s ward. (40s/50s). In the wrong hands, Janet Grey would be played as a sadistic, ‘Nurse Ratched’, two-dimensional character. She is far more complex, exhibiting moments of compassion and real tenderness. We never will know quite who she is. We suspect that she is equally unsure.
SAM FOWLES, attendant on the male ward. (30s/50s). Again, here is a character who, in the sort of production that this won’t be, could be played as a two-dimensional sadistic bully. Like Grey, however, Fowles is far more complex. He clearly takes pleasure in the acts his role allows him to commit. However, what drives his actions comes from a far more disturbing place in his psyche.
Auditions by arrangement only please