April 16

Dear Mother: The Perfect Audition Piece

What do you look for in an audition monologue?

Thomas writing to his mother in UniformDo you look for a piece that will engage the director or adjudicators?

Something that will give you the chance to really show off your acting range?

Do you want to be unique with a piece they have probably not seen before?

Or do you want something that is in the current mindset?

The award winning Great War play, Dear Mother can offer all of these points and more!

As it is written in letter format and each scene is performed by a single actor each time, with no other interactions, it allows that actor to reach out and talk to the audience directly, really drawing them into their dialogue.

Dear Mother is  recently published play (March 2014) so the chances of having the same audition piece as someone else is very small. It allows you to portray the part without prejudice of another actor who has played the role in film or on stage. You really can make the role your own. As it is new, you have more chance of being able to engage those that you are playing for, as they are unlikely to know the story. It can be very easy to turn off when you have heard the same piece time and time again, but listening to something new might give you an edge with an increased chance of them wanting to hear the story.

Scenes 2 and 3 of Dear Mother allow the actor a choice of different emotions and techniques to explore.

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March 25

Thomas Begins to Write…

Dear Mother by Mark JamesBarely able to hold the pencil in his frozen muddy fingers, Thomas started to etch the words on the dirty soggy paper that he had been storing for months in his uniform. The pencil was small and worn, the nib crudely shaved to a point with a small pocket knife that he carried.

Remembering how his handwriting use to flow across the page in small neat lines and swirls, the frustration of struggling to finish the first few words played on his mind.

Eyes that had seen pain and inhuman amounts of suffering, filled with a salty glaze as he began to try to recall them.

Taking a second to compose himself, Thomas looked up at the clay filled gully that had been his home for what seemed forever, but in fact had only been a few months. He could see his fellow soldiers lying on the thinnest planks of wood, helmets rested over their eyes to block out the drizzling rain. Others sat in puddles on the ground talking to each other, seemingly nonchalant of the conditions they lived in. After everything they’d experienced and done since arriving in the hell hole, no one seemed to care about feeling a little cold, they could only focus on what was happening now.

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March 11

From Script to Stage: directional notes from the author

Mark James as Snr Thomas in the original cast of Dear Mother

Mark James as Snr Thomas in the original cast of Dear Mother

Before being published for a wider audience Dear Mother originally toured around small theatres and festivals in the Dorset and Wiltshire area for approximately 2 years. Even now 3 years on, I am still receiving requests to produce the play at various venues,  most of which have already hosted Dear Mother before.

The secret of Dear Mother and its success is not in elaborate scenery or big, over the top movements , but in the words that are portrayed and the actor’s ability to convince the audience that he is actually living the life that he is talking about.

The play has gone on to win many awards both for the acting and also for the production as a whole, so there is a formula that works to get the best possible reaction from audiences. This has been perfected over the run of the show and I am hoping by sharing my experiences, you will be able to produce Dear Mother to the highest standard possible, from the off.

My biggest piece of advice for any actor and director undertaking this play is to work closely together to really explore the character you are trying to portray. When you first glance at the script it may seem a bit boring having various monologues being delivered, whilst all the time the actors are sitting down writing. As I said before, the movement on stage is very minimal and so are the props. It will be the tone of the actors voice, the change in pace and emotion and the way that they are able to connect to the audience, that will make your production of the play a success. Continue reading