Twelfth Night – Audition


Twelfth Night, also known as What You Will, is a comedy, which is based upon mistaken identity.


In Illyria, Orsino is sick with love with Olivia, who is in mourning for her recently deceased father and brother. To honour their memory, she has sworn to live like a nun for seven years and refuses to receive any messages from Orsino!

On the coast of Illyria, Viola and a ship’s captain are washed ashore following a shipwreck – in which Viola believes her twin brother, Sebastian, has died. For protection, she disguises herself as a young man (called Cesario) and gains employment in Orsino’s household, where (s)he quickly becomes the chosen one!
In Olivia’s household, her peace is constantly disturbed by her drunken uncle, Sir Toby Belch and his friend, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, whom Toby has invited to stay in the hope that he can win Olivia’s hand in marriage – and her fortune.


Despite falling in love with Orsino herself, the disguised Viola agrees to Orsino’s request that she visits Olivia to plead on his behalf. On arrival, Cesario meets Olivia’s clown, Feste. Once Cesario is admitted to Olivia’s presence, ‘his’ persuasions on behalf of Orsino lead Olivia to fall in love with ‘him’ at first sight. Olivia sends Malvolio after Cesario to give her a ring, pretending Cesario left it behind. On receiving the ring, Cesario realises that Olivia loves her (in her disguise as a man) but decides the situation is too complex for her to untie.
Unknown to Viola, her brother, Sebastian, also survived the shipwreck in the company of Antonio, a sailor, and has also headed for Orsino’s court, believing his sister to be dead. Antonio, for love, agrees to accompany him, even though he is a wanted man in Illyria.

At Olivia’s court, Toby, Andrew and Feste are partying late into the night, along with Olivia’s maid, Maria, and resent being told by Malvolio to be quiet.  In retaliation, they plot to make a fool of him, convincing Olivia that he is mad as a box of frogs, and leading to his being locked away like a madman.
When Viola again visits Olivia on Orsino’s behalf, Olivia declares her love for Cesario, making Aguecheek jealous. To win Olivia, he challenges Cesario to a duel, but both men are cowards and try to avoid the fight.


As they begin to duel Antonio arrives and, believing Cesario to be Sebastian, stops the fight but is recognised and arrested. Viola denies knowing Antonio, who is dragged away crying out the Sebastian has betrayed him. On hearing her brother’s name, Viola has new hope that he may be alive. Both Feste and Aguecheek mistake Sebastian for Cesario and Feste announces that Olivia desires to see him. A jealous Aguecheek strikes Sebastian, who retaliates. Sir Toby then duels with him until Olivia interrupts it.
Spoiler – stop here if you don’t want to know how it ends
Olivia immediately begs Sebastian to marry her and, much to her surprise, he agrees and they head off to church. As Olivia returns home, Orsino arrives with Cesario, begging to be admitted to her presence. Antonio arrives with the officers, describing how he saved Sebastian from drowning.
Olivia appears, calling Cesario her husband, shocking Viola and enraging Orsino. The priest confirms that he has married Cesario and Olivia, while Aguecheek and Sir Toby both accuse Cesario of injuring them, which Viola denies.
Sebastian then appears and he and Viola are delighted to discover that their twin is alive. Sebastian and Olivia are happy to be married, and Orsino immediately proposes marriage to Viola, who accepts.
The trick played on Malvolio is revealed and he is released from his prison, swearing revenge on them all. In gratitude to Maria for her help in fooling Malvolio, Sir Toby has married her and Aguecheek leaves for home poorer but no wiser.

Parts available- with a Downton Abbey suggestion!

• Viola – Sebastian’s twin sister, a shipwrecked young lady, the heroine of the play, later disguised as a young man named Cesario- Lady Sybil with a hint of Anna. Female 16 years – 21 years old
• Sebastian – Viola’s twin brother, supposedly drowned in the shipwreck, but actually alive and visiting Illyria-  Matthew Crawley- Male- same age as Viola
• Duke Orsino – Duke of Illyria- Charles Blake / Henry Talbot- Male 17 years- 28 years
• Olivia – a wealthy countess- Lady Mary Crawford – Female: 17 years – 28 years
• Malvolio – the butler in the household of Olivia- Carson- Male 40+
• Maria – Olivia’s maid – Mrs Patmore or Daisy- Female: 17years-40+
• Sir Toby Belch – Olivia’s uncle- a drunk, and a joker- Earl of Grantham – Male: 40+
• Sir Andrew Aguecheek – a rich man who Sir Toby brings to be Olivia’s husband-  think Hugh Laurie in Blackadder …posh and naïve….terribly Etonian Male: 17 years – plus
• Feste – the chauffeur or gardener or travelling actor…… of Olivia’s household- Daisy or Branson: Male or Female any age
• Fabian – a servant – William Mason meets Alfred meets Daisy- Male or Female any age
• Antonio – a sailor and friend to Sebastian- Mr Bates- Male: 40+
• Valentine and Curio – servants attending on the Duke Male or Female any age
Captain of the Wrecked Ship – friend to Viola- American accent- any age- Male: 40+
A Priest- any accent- any age- Male: any age

Dancers in the Household- rather like the maids in Annie
Singers in the Household- rather like a Barber Shop
Servants and Ensemble in 1912- about 10 ensemble company members to add to the Household.

When and where are auditions?

Auditions are next week on either:
Sunday 17 July at 7.30pm-9.45pm
Monday 18 July at 7.30pm – 9.45pm
There will be copies of the play there.

Who can audition for Twelfth Night?

Anyone from the Juniors Aged 14 years and upwards- who will be in Year 9 or above in school from September 2016 may audition.
Anyone may audition- as there are both large, demanding roles for men and women, singers, dancers and musicians. There are also plenty of non-speaking roles for those members who like to take part, but in a vital but small ensemble role.
There is plenty of room for all shapes, sizes genders and skills.

When are rehearsals and the production?

Rehearsals will start on Monday September 19th with text work and a meet and greet evening- with a singing rehearsal of all he songs.
Principals will rehearse twice a week- on a day to work around other Chipstead shows. This will be Monday and Wednesday evenings at 7.45pm.
There will be some Sunday rehearsals starting in October from 10-1pm for Principals and some ensemble roles. Eventually the schedule will crank up for everyone at the start of November – to include the whole cast.

Your availability will be paramount when casting decisions are being made.

Is Shakespeare right for me?

YES! It will be like Panto but with those words……we will set the play in 1912 at Christmas.
Twelfth Night is the most joyous and silly of comedies. There are great roles for men and women- plus I really want dancing maids and servants, and singing gardeners and chauffeurs. So just like Panto – there is something to suit all abilities and experiences. Please come and have a go regardless of your experience with Shakespeare………I promise to make the whole thing fun, joyful, educational and slick.
I need a group of confident performers who like a challenge and are willing to create a very funny comedy with songs, dances and music.

When is the show set and what will rehearsals be like?

The production will open on January 6th- which is weirdly Twelfth Night. The show will run until Saturday 14 January.
Rehearsals will involve a lot of work on text, plus a lot of improvisation and playful fun. I will want to block the play very quickly, then allow actors to create, invent and develop the world of the play. We must create Downton Abbey on stage- so huge scope for comedy capers and naughtiness.

What do I need to do before and during the audition?

Decide if you can commit the time. I work hard and speedily.
Decide if you would like to perform, sing, dance- do all three!
Decide of you would like to audition for a principal role or be part of the ensemble
Read the synopsis of the play.
If you are auditioning for a Principal Role- please familiarize yourself with the play. Perhaps watch a film version of it online? Perhaps listen to a version on YouTube?

During the audition you will need to have an open mind and just have a go at what is flung at you. Please wear loose, comfortable clothing and shoes you can easily move in.

Audition Pieces- what to prepare

We are looking for:
– your ability to respond to Shakespeare’s language on stage
– your ability to interpret a larger than life character
– your ability to interact with others when reading
– your ability to take direction- in comedy
– your versatility and your casting
– your willingness to sing alone and with others- basic or advanced?
– your movement ability- basic or advanced?

All auditionees should:

prepare a short Shakespeare speech- no more than 14 lines long. Please try to learn this by heart. You may have the script with you for a prompt. Please know what the character’s name is, the context of the speech and what the speech means.
(No Fear Shakespeare does this for you-
The speech can be from any play at all- a Sonnet, a Comedy, a History or a Tragedy.
Prepare ONE verse and ONE chorus only from a song of your choice. It can be any genre- pop, ballad, musical, sea shanty- with no sheet music or accompaniment. This is simply to see whether you are  confident soloist or tine deaf!

If you wish to audition for a Principal Role- you should be familiar with the following scenes and be prepared to read with other actors.


Viola and Olivia – Twelfth Night Act 1 Scene 5 – from Viola’s line: ’The honorable lady of the house- which is she?’ to  Viola’s Exit
Viola and Orsino- Twelfth Night Act 1 Scene 4 from Orsino’s Line: ’Who saw Cesario, ho?’ to Viola’s Exit
Fabian:  Act 1 Scene 5
Maria: Act 1 Scene 5- the duologue with Feste
Feste: can audition with the Fabian extracts Act 1 Scene 5, plus Act 4 Scene 2 with Malvolio
Feste- must be a confident solo singer


Sebastian: Act 4 Scene 3 speech: ‘This is the air…’
Sir Toby Belch & Sir Andrew & Fabian: Twelfth Night Act 1 Scene 3- the whole scene
Feste: can audition with the Fabian extracts plus Act 4 Scene 2 with Malvolio: must be a confident solo singer
Malvolio: Act 1 Scene 5 – look at the MOAI speech and Act 4 Scene 2 with Feste
Antonio: Act 5 Scene 1-‘Orsino, noble Sir.’

You may be asked to do a small movement audition: again just to check if you have seven left feet or you are West End tap dancer.

Who do I contact with any questions about the production?
Director- Sarah Branston is available on
Do email her with any queries.

We look forward to meeting you

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