Audition - Les Liaisons Dangereuses
Les Liaisons Dangereuses
Written by Christopher Hampton – adapted from the novel written by Pierre Choderlos de Lacios in 1782
Directed by Karl Buckley
Audition: Saturday 12 November 2011 at 1.30pm
Venue: The Stables Theatre, Cnr Arthur St & Main Highway, Ellerslie, Auckland
The Vicomte de Valmont is determined to seduce the virtuous (and married) Madame de Tourvel, who is living with Valmont's aunt while Monsieur de Tourvel, a magistrate, is away on a court case. At the same time, the Marquise de Merteuil is determined to corrupt the young Cécile de Volanges, whose mother has only recently brought her out of a convent to be married – to Merteuil's recent lover, who has become bored with her and discarded her. Cécile falls in love with the Chevalier Danceny (her music tutor) and Merteuil and Valmont pretend to want to help the secret lovers in order to gain their trust, so that they can use them later in their own schemes.
Merteuil suggests that the Vicomte seduce Cécile in order to exact her revenge on Cécile's future husband. Valmont refuses, finding the task too easy, and preferring to devote himself to seducing Madame de Tourvel. Merteuil promises Valmont that if he seduces Madame de Tourvel and provides her with written proof, she will spend the night with him. He expects rapid success, but does not find it as easy as his many other conquests. During the course of his pursuit, he discovers that Cécile's mother has written to Madame de Tourvel about his bad reputation. He avenges himself in seducing Cécile as Merteuil had suggested. In the meantime, Merteuil takes Danceny as a lover.
By the time Valmont has succeeded in seducing Madame de Tourvel, it is suggested that he might have fallen in love with her. Jealous, Merteuil tricks him into deserting Madame de Tourvel – and reneges on her promise of spending the night with him. In response Valmont reveals that he prompted Danceny to reunite with Cécile, leaving Merteuil abandoned yet again. Merteuil declares war on Valmont, and in revenge she reveals to Danceny that Valmont has seduced Cécile. Danceny and Valmont duel, and Valmont is fatally wounded. Before he dies he is reconciled with Danceny, giving him the letters proving Merteuil's own involvement. These letters are sufficient to ruin her reputation, and she flees to the countryside, where she contracts smallpox. Her face is left permanently scarred and she is rendered blind in one eye, so she loses her greatest asset: her beauty. But the innocent also suffer from the protagonist's schemes: hearing of Valmont's death, Madame de Tourvel succumbs to a fever and dies, while Cécile returns to the convent.
Originally staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1985, it has played on the West End and Broadway, including a revival in 2008. The play was also adapted to the film Dangerous Liaisons in 1988. Notable actors to have played Merteuil include Lindsay Duncan, Glenn Close and Laura Linney. Alan Rickman and John Malkovich have been among those to play Valmont.
From the director:
I have wanted to direct Les Liaisons Dangereuses for many years. I think I love the way that Merteuil and Valmont go about achieving their aim – which is essentially to simply amuse themselves.
I also have a fondness for stories where what is not said tells as much of the story as what the characters do say - looks, gestures, pauses, a well-timed entrance or exit from the stage, a smirk, staying a moment too long, characters standing uncomfortably close or achingly distant.
In terms of design, I also want to bring out this contrast between the public and the private. The immaculate lavishness of parlours contrasted with twisted and crumpled sheets in bedrooms. Ornate costumes contrasted with plain undergarments and night attire. We will work on a composite set to minimise scene changes. Everything with style.
I am looking for a cast that can work together to bring out the best in each other. Every actor cast needs to be comfortable, or be willing to work towards being comfortable, with the sexual and romantic action and dialogue that takes place within the story. When the script says ‘kiss’ – you kiss… in rehearsals. I do not want to wait till the dress rehearsal, or opening night, to realise that two of my actors have zero chemistry on stage. Every actor needs to be willing to be exposed on stage – either emotionally or physically or both.
Which brings me to nudity…
Yes – there is a requirement for two characters – Cecile and Emilie - to have some degree of nudity during the story. See the character lists for details. As this is a play about sex, seduction and power, I think some nudity is essential. My aim is to ensure that this achieves the aims of the story without being explicit. In the character lists, I have tried to be as clear as possible about my intentions in this regard so that auditioning actors know what is expected.
An actor’s job is to learn their lines and blocking, but then bring their role to life – to listen to what other characters say and respond to that – to play around within the blocking to add all the looks and gestures and pauses.
I am not a director who sits in the back row and just says you’re doing well. Neither am I director who comes into a show with all the moves I want you to do already written down for you to follow. My job as director is to help you do that and to tie together and balance what you are doing with what everyone else is doing to tell the story. The story is everything – anything that helps tell the story can stay, anything that distracts can go.
Hopefully all this hasn’t put you off...
This is a great story full of fantastic characters and superb dialogue.
This show will seduce all those who see it.
Commence Tuesday 10 January 2012
Tuesdays and Thursdays each week from 7.30pm
Sundays at 12.30pm
Thursday 15 March to Saturday 24 March 2012
Mme la Marquise de Merteuil – female – 35-50 - a respectable widow of considerable means (a commanding and formidable presence on stage; controlled yet able to betray inner emotions with the slightest move)
- Mme de Volanges – female – 35-50 - a widow (a polite and proper socialite; a slight naivety makes her the perfect foil for Merteuil's scheming)
- Cecile Volanges – female -15 (20-25) - slim and attractive blond girl (innocent, naive and completely corruptible (which Valmont takes some pleasure in doing); must be prepared to convincingly appear to engage in romantic and sexual scenes; partial nudity required...in one bedroom scene with Valmont, Cecile wears a blouse unbuttoned to the waist - she will need to move freely about the stage unconcerned about potentially exposing her breasts to Valmont and the audience)
- Merteuil’s Majordomo – male – 25-50 - a well-groomed, formidable member of Merteuil's household - great uniform!
- Le Vicomte de Valmont – male – 30-45 - a strikingly elegant figure; cold, calculating and controlled; never opens his mouth without first calculating what damage he can do; must be prepared to convincingly appear to engage in romantic and sexual scenes; sword-fighting experience a bonus! Some semi-nudity may be required in the detailing of some scenes - to be decided
- Azolan – male – 20-25 - Vicomte’s valet de chamber, a dapper and enthusiastic young man; loyal and eager to take the advice of his employer
- Mme de Rosemonde – female – 84 (50-70) - arthritic but lively, intelligent and sympathetic, the wealthy matriarch of the family; practical and friendly
- Mme de Tourvel – female – 22 (20-35) - a handsome, moral and upstanding woman; strong principles; strikingly and naturally beautiful
- Emilie – female – 20-35 - a courtesan; a pretty and streetwise prostitute; must be prepared to convincingly appear to engage in romantic and sexual scenes; full nudity required - in bed with Valmont, he gets up taking the sheet with him and moves upstage leaving Emilie lying on the bed naked, facing upstage away from the audience. Valmont returns to the bed and Emilie rolls onto her stomach as Valmont uses her naked back as a desk to write a love letter to Tourvel
- Chevalier Danceny – male – 20 (20-30) - a Knight of Malta, an eager and handsome young man (naive young music tutor; courting Cecile against her mother's wishes
- Three footmen – male
- Maid - female
Experienced or trained actors with stage craft.