Audtions for Awake and Sing! by Clifford Odets
Casting notice posted on auditionsfree.com, casting location: San Diego, CA
Awake and Sing!
Written by: Clifford Odets
Directed by: Mark Zweifach
Produced by: Joel Colbourn
Auditions: 7:00 pm Monday, January 16 & Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Performance Dates: Friday, March 2 through Sunday, March 25, 2012
Cast Requirements: 7 Men and 2 Women
Synopsis: Awake and Sing! is the 1935 masterpiece by one of the most influential playwrights of the last century. The play is set during the Great Depression and chronicles the struggles of the Berger family in Bronx, New York, in the year 1932. The story is as relevant today as it was over 75 years ago. As Odets himself describes: “All the characters share a fundamental activity—a struggle for life amidst petty conditions.”
Clifford Odets was the playwright for the Group Theatre, whose members included many of the pioneers of American Theatre in the 20th Century: Stella Adler, Morris Carnovsky, Sanford Meisner and Lee Strasberg. Its work was rooted in the economic crisis that gripped America throughout the 1930s, and it became renowned for its pioneering ensemble work, the political nature of its plays and its use of “method acting” techniques inspired by Stanislavsky.
Myron Berger (middle aged, father of the family) is a born follower. He would like to be a leader. He always has “get rich quick” schemes. He is never sad or depressed. He is a Pollyanna in that he always rationalizes or minimizes adversity. He likes people and is dignified. He is attached to the past. Odets describes him as being “heartbroken without being aware of it.”
Bessie Berger (middle aged, mother of the family and Myron’s wife), is not only the mother in this home but also the father. She is constantly arranging and taking care of the family. She loves life and has high energy but little patience for ineptitude. She is a shrewd judge of character. She is quick to respond emotionally. She is fearful of poverty. She has conventional values and standards. Again quoting Odets, “She knows that when one lives in the jungle one must look out for the wild life.”
Hennie Berger (their daughter, age 26) is independent, self-reliant and strong willed but bound as well to the conventions of her time. She has few friends, male or female. She has a sense of being trapped and longs to escape but doesn’t think she can. She would escape if possible. Underneath, she is a romantic. Until the day she dies she will be faithful to a loved man.
Ralph Berger (their son, age 22) is idealistic. Odets describes him as a boy with a clean spirit. He has a thirst for knowledge. He is sensitive and romantic. He desperately wants to get ahead. In his own words in the play’s opening moments, he wants “to get to first base.” In a way, he is the carrier of all the aspirations of the Berger family.
Jacob (father of Bessie and Morty and grandfather to Ralph and Hennie, in his 70s) He is a retired barber with an artistic flair. He is a Marxist and an idealist. He fights for the working class and for justice and dignity. In many ways, he feels he has not lived up to his aspirations. He has no power to turn ideals to action. He identifies with his grandson, Ralph, and places all his hopes on him to lead a different life than he has, not to become “a man who had golden opportunities but drank instead a glass of tea.”
Uncle Morty (middle-aged, Bessie’s brother, son of Jacob and Uncle to Ralph and Hennie) is a successful American businessman with five good senses. The lives of others seldom touch him deeply. When he is generous, he wants others to be aware of it. He is pleased by attention—a rich relative to the Berger family. He fancies himself to have a good sense of humor but often is irritating and abrasive. He is a shrewd judge of material values. He lives in a penthouse with a Japanese butler, sleeps with dress models, plays cards for hours, smokes expensive cigars and is a 32nd degree Mason, but he is deeply intolerant. He will die unmarried.
Moe Axelrod (early to mid-30s, a friend of the family who eventually boards with the Bergers) lost a leg in WWI and seldom forgets that fact. On the outside, he is bitter, sarcastic and pessimistic. Life has made him a cynic, but he is a fighter. He is very proud. He scorns the inability of others to make their way in life, but he likes people for whatever good qualities they possess. His passionate outbursts come from a strong but contained emotional mechanism. He has always loved Hennie Berger and she is all he wants, but his pride keeps him from declaring himself.
Sam Feinschreiber (early to mid-30s, an immigrant who courts Hennie) wants to find a home. He is an immigrant in a strange land with a strange language. He marries Hennie, but can’t find happiness. He is proud and feels humiliated by his circumstances. He believes others are laughing at him. He is a lonely man. Odets says, “He hears acutely all the small sounds of life. Life is a high chill wind weaving itself around his head.”
Schlosser (50s or early 60s), the janitor in the Berger’s apartment building, is an overworked German whose wife ran away with another man and left him with a young daughter who, in turn, ran away and joined a burlesque show as a chorus girl. He suffers from rheumatism. He has never recovered his sense of self in the 20 years since his wife walked out.
Auditions will consist of cold readings from the script. Callback date will be announced. The Director is not adverse to casting actors to play characters outside their own chronological age.
PowPAC, Poway’s Community Theater is located in the heart of Poway on the second floor of the Lively Center, 13250 Poway Road, Poway CA 92064.
If you have any other questions, please contact Mark Zweifach at 619-417-4138 or Mark.Zweifach@gmail.com
Casting Location: San Diego, CA
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org