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Auditions for The Ghosts of Christmas Past


The Ghosts of Christmas Introduction

 


 A production with The Archive Theater at historic Pioneer Farms for the holidays, this wonderful piece will take audiences into the Victorian tradition of telling ghost stories on Christmas Eve. Believing that the veil between the living world and the spirit world was thinner at the darkest time of the year, family gatherings were full of spooky stories told around the hearth. Producer Jennifer Rose Davis and Director Lynn S Beaver have adapted stories from  Jerome K Jerome, Francis Marion Crawford, H. H. Munro (Saki), Oscar Wilde, and Charles Dickens into an original script to create a delightful evening of chills and laughter set to live music led by Victoria Schwarz. 

Auditions for Ghosts Of Christmas will be June 29 - June 30  at Berkley United Methodist Church. Callbacks will be at the Producer's home on Monday, July 1, 2024. Here is a link to the church's website for directions: https://berkeleyumc.org


If you have never auditioned for the Archive Theater, our auditions are formatted more like a callback. You will work from sides and play against each other in the audition. We'll have actors available to play against anyone who ends up in a solo audition slot. You are welcome to sign up with a friend and rehearse in advance or to show up early to rehearse if you end up working with someone you don't know. Audition slots will be 15 minutes and we'll ask you which sides you want to work for the roles you are interested in. We only work with local Austin talent and all positions will be paid. Casting sites please do not repost. Stipends for actors will be a base of $300 plus an equal share of the tips collected during the production (shared only among the actors).


The show will be rehearsing in October and November, and running from November 16 - Dec 15 with two shows over the Thanksgiving weekend. We'll be looking for 7 actors and potentially 2 swing actors.


We are open to inclusive casting for all roles in the play and highly encourage actors of all races, ethnicities, genders, and nonbinary/gender non-conforming to apply for the roles they love. We apologize for the gender-specific language in the role descriptions. We will change the script as necessary to accommodate inclusive casting.


The show will be historically and elaborately costumed and staged in the mid-19th century with fantastical elements for The Krampus and Santa Claus.


We attempt to make our auditions fun for everyone involved and respect people's time as much as possible. We don't keep you waiting around for results and always notify everyone involved if they are cast or not cast as quickly as we can. We expect our auditioners to display professionalism in the process. Bullying and harassment will not be tolerated in person or by email after the auditions. Actors indulging in this behavior will not be welcome at future auditions or at any of our events.  

 

 

Ghosts of Christmas Cast of Characters:

 

Actor 1

Grandfather (Clarence) - Traditionalist. The patriarch of the family. He is a storyteller of the old school and enjoys being in the company of his progeny more than anything. Getting a rise out of them all pleases him beyond measure. 

 

Butler (A Doll's Ghost) - Your typical English Butler as is right and proper.

 

Mr. Otis (The Canterville Ghost) - An encroaching American (Texan even) who has moved his family overseas to England and has absolutely no patience for ghostly nonsense.

 

Actor 2

Grandmother (Eleanor) - The soft-spoken Victorian woman who observes propriety in every way. Spooky stories scandalize her. But she had a sense of fun and a twinkle in her eye. 

 

Mrs. Stapleton (The Open Window) - Matronly woman who lives in a village near a madhouse and serenely deals with whatever life throws her way

 

Mrs. Pringle (A Doll's Ghost)  - A no-nonsense housekeeper who can keep everything in order, get dolls, mended, and calm incipient tragedies all in a days work. 

 

Mrs. Otis (The Canterville Ghost) - An aging but handsome Texas socialite who is very concerned with appearances and somewhat mystified by the odd events happening around her.

 

Actor 3

Father (August) - All bluster and bother. He packs his pipe to avoid actual emotional involvement. But he loves his family deeply and inherited his sense of fun from his parents. 

 

Tom Smart (The Queer Chair) - A young man overly fond of drink and shenanigans who is nearing the age of settling down to find a wife.


Mr. Tinker  (A Doll's Ghost) - A sensitive and gentle toymaker who identifies with the dolls he repairs. Deeply loves his young daughter and helper Elise.

 

The Krampus (The Queer Chair) - Legendary mythic trickster figure who steals away children to torture but is really not a bad guy.

 

Actor 4

Mother- A true beauty, whose incandescence is evident. She loves her family deeply and the holidays are when her labors for her family shine. She is more well-read than her husband and deeply enjoys a good story. 

 

Gwendolen - Mother as a young girl who is levelheaded, romantic, and kind.

 

Window (The Queer Chair) - A delightfully naive. and exuberant young, widowed pub owner who is surprisingly adept at managing multiple suitors and has a great fondness for queer chairs.

 

Actor 5

Daughter (Emma) - The older sister, embodies the Victorian upper middle class. She is ethereal and empowered in turns and her education is her joy in life. 

 

Elise (A Doll's Ghost) Plays both Elise and the voice of Nina the doll. Elisa is a young, hardworking and obedient daughter who loves her father and would put herself at risk to save him pain.

 

Virginia (The Canterville Ghost) - Young American girl with wit, spirit, and the heart to try and save an old ghost from himself.

 

Actor 6 - This Role Has Been Precast

Son (Johnny) - He is at the age that he entirely doubts everything his parents and grandparents have to say. He considers them old-fashioned and would happily debunk any tale they tell. 

 

Washington (The Canterville Ghost)  - Devilish young prankster who is as much trouble as two boys put together.

 

Actor 7

Butler (Jenkins) - Older gentleman who defers to his Victorian ‘betters’ on the surface but has a keen mind and wit of his own. 

 

The Queer Chair - The ghost of a relative of the widow that has inhabited a haunted chair and has an unsavory and lewd sense of humor with lots of wooden puns.

 

Sir Simon (The Canterville Ghost)  - The world-weary ghost of an Elizabethan gentleman who is very angry at his fate in life and the ugly Americans taking over his house.

 

Actor 8

Nanny/Maiden Aunt (Amelia) - Quiet and subdued but she has hidden depths that can    burst forth at any moment.

 

Miss Stapleton  (The Open Window) - A sweet-looking young woman with a       mischievous and wicked sense           of humor who is too clever for her own good.

 

Nursemaid/Puppeteer - A young country nursemaid who is not all that bright. The          Puppeteer for who controls the ghost of the doll.

 

Mrs Umney - A gothically inclined, history-obsessed housekeeper who is prone to           exaggeration, spectral voices, and occasional hysterics.




 

Ghosts of Christmas Side 1 (The Family Introduction):

 

FATHER: What a glorious Christmas Eve it has been. We’ve had our carols, eaten our magnificent supper, had more than our share of wassail, and beguiled the time with our delightful… well, mostly delightful family and friends about us. 

 

DAUGHTER: Is it time to put our stocking out for St. Nicholas? We don’t want him to miss us!

 

SON (loudly and enthusiastically): I have mine right here!

 

MOTHER: Very well done. I have no doubt that St. Nicholas will be impressed. But You should have had me mend your stocking before hanging it, Johnny. All your gifts will fall out through that hole in the toe.

 

SON (looking anxiously): It’s not that big, really.

 

MOTHER (smiling): I’m teasing you, dear. Are you ready to go to bed and dream sweet dreams of St. Nicholas and the bounty he’ll be bringing on the morrow?

 

SON (Wailing): But it’s too early yet to go to bed! It’s barely dark outside.

 

FATHER: Now, now, son. Don’t be disrespectful to your Mother.

 

DAUGHTER (pleading): But surely Mother, Father, when Christmas eve comes just once a year, couldn’t we stay up a little later? We could wait and watch for Saint Nicholas to visit our house.

 

MOTHER: Well, perhaps just a little later. Since we have a fire and such lovely company, how about a round of stories? I love stories. Listening to a good story makes me feel like a wondering child all warm and safe in my parent’s arms as they put me to bed.

 

FATHER: Ahh… If it’s a story you want, I know the perfect one for Christmas Eve. Allow me. (Clears throat and strikes a reciting pose.)

 

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

 

ALL: Oh no… Not that old horse. You trot that one out every year more withered, grey, and lame than the year before.

 

FATHER: (sighs) Very well… My fierce critics, what do you suggest instead?

 

MOTHER: We must have something new, something different. Consider it my Christmas present.



 

Ghosts Of Christmas Side 2 (Dickens' The Queer Chair)

Tom Smart (Father)/Odd Chair (Jenkins)

 

TOM SMART: What the devil are you winking at me for?


ODD CHAIR: Because I like it, Tom Smart. (he begins to grin)


TOM SMART: How do you know my name, old nut-cracker face?


ODD CHAIR: Come, come, Tom, that's not the way to address solid Spanish mahogany. Damme, you couldn't treat me with less respect if I was veneered.


TOM SMART: I didn't mean to treat you with any disrespect, Sir.


ODD CHAIR: Well, well, perhaps not--perhaps not. Tom--


TOM SMART: sir--


ODD CHAIR: I know everything about you, Tom; everything. You're very poor, Tom.


TOM SMART: I certainly am," said Tom Smart. "But how came you to know that?


ODD CHAIR: Never mind that. You're also much too fond of Rum punch, Tom.


TOM SMART (smartly): I haven’t had a drop since last night, sir.


ODD CHAIR: Tom, the widow's a fine woman—a remarkably fine woman--eh, Tom?" 

(Here the old fellow screws up his eyes, cocks up one of his wasted little legs, and looks altogether so unpleasantly amorous, that Tom is quite disgusted with the levity of his behavior--at his time of life, too!)


ODD CHAIR: I am her guardian, Tom. 


TOM SMART Are you? Isn’t that an odd thing for a chair to be?


ODD CHAIR: I knew her mother, Tom, and her grandmother. She was very fond of me--made me this waistcoat, Tom, nd these shoes, (said the old fellow, lifting up one of the red cloth mufflers) but don't mention it, Tom. I shouldn't like to have it known that she was so much attached to me. It might occasion some unpleasantness in the family. I have been a great favorite among the women in my time, Tom. Hundreds of fine women have sat in my lap for hours together. What do you think of that, you dog, eh!

 

 

 

Ghosts Of Christmas Side 3 (Dickens' The Queer Chair)

Tom Smart (Father)/Widow (Mother)


TOM SMART: Good morning, ma'am.


WIDOW: Good morning, sir. What will you take for breakfast?

(Tom ponders a moment about how to start the conversation.) 


WIDOW: There's a very nice ham and a beautiful cold-larded fowl. Shall I fetch them for you, Sir?


TOM SMART: Who is that gentleman in the bar, ma'am?


WIDOW (blushing): His name is Jinkins, sir.


TOM SMART: He's a tall man.


WIDOW (breathlessly): He is a very fine man, sir, and a very nice gentleman.


TOM SMART: Ah!


WIDOW: Is there anything more you want, sir


TOM SMART: Why, yes indeed. My dear ma'am, will you have the kindness to sit down for one moment?


(The widow looks much amazed, but she sits down, and Tom sits down too, close beside her.) 


TOM SMART: My dear ma'am, you deserve a very excellent husband--you do indeed.


WIDOW: Lor, Sir! How you flatter me.


TOM SMART: I scorn to flatter, my dear ma'am. You deserve an admirable husband, and whoever he is, he'll be a very lucky man. (Tom’s eyes involuntarily wander from the widow's face to her form and then snap back up. The widow looks more puzzled than ever and makes an effort to rise. Tom gently presses her hand, as if to detain her, and she sinks back down.)


WIDOW: I am sure I am very much obliged to you, Sir, for your good opinion (half laughing) and if ever I marry again--


TOM SMART (mock outrage flirting): IF? IF…


WIDOW: Very Well… (laughing) WHEN I do, I hope I shall have as good a husband as you describe.

 

 

 

Ghosts Of Christmas Side 3 (Dickens' A Doll's Ghost)

Elise/Nina (Daughter), Mr Tinker (Father), Doctor (Grandfather)


NINA IN ELISE’S VOICE: PA-PA, Come!


MR. TINKER Yes, child! But where? Where? Where are you, Else?


NINA IN ELISE’S VOICE: Come!

(Nina drops below the table and appears somewhere in the audience)


NINA IN ELISE’S VOICE: Come!


MR. TINKER: I’m coming, my darling. I’m coming, Elise.

(He runs through the audience following the doll as the scene changes to a hospital bed with a nurse and a form under the covers. Mr. Tinker runs into the scene out of breath.)


MR. TINKER (to the nurse): Please, you must help me. Have you seen a little girl? Or a doll? Or both? Please.


DOCTOR: SHHHH! Quiet, sir! Calm yourself. A little girl was brought in soon after ten o’clock. She was holding a big brown-paper box against her, and they could not get it out of her arms. 


MR. TINKER: Please may I see her? May I see if she is my little girl?

(The nurse draws the covers back revealing Elise. Mr. Tinker drops to his knees weeping in gratitude.)


ELISE (smiling weakly): Pa-pa! I knew you would come! I am so sorry I couldn’t make it to the house to deliver Nina. There were big boys with mean faces and they tried to get Nina away from me, but I held on and fought as well as I could till one of them hit me with something, and I don’t remember anymore. I fell down, and I suppose the boys ran away, but I wouldn’t let go of Nina.


DOCTOR: Here is the box. We couldn’t take it out of her arms till she came to herself. Would you like to see if the doll is broken?


MR. TINKER: It doesn’t matter if she’s broken. I will fix her a thousand times for saving my Elise. She is the most beautiful doll in the whole world to me.

 

 

 

Ghosts Of Christmas Side 5 (Wilde's The Canterville Ghost )Virginia (Daughter) / Sir Simon (Grandfather)


VIRGINIA: I am so sorry for you, but my brother is going back to Eton tomorrow, and then, if you behave yourself, no one will annoy you.


SIR SIMON: It is absurd asking me to behave myself, quite absurd. I must rattle my chains, groan through keyholes, and walk about at night if that is what you mean. It is my only reason for existing.


VIRGINIA: It is no reason at all for existing, and you know you have been very wicked. Mrs. Umney told us, the first day we arrived here, that you had killed your wife.


SIR SIMON: Well, I quite admit it, but it was a purely family matter and concerned no one else.


VIRGINIA: It is very wrong to kill anyone.


SIR SIMON: Oh, I hate the cheap severity of abstract ethics! My wife was very plain, never had my ruffs properly starched, and knew nothing about cookery. Why, there was a buck I had shot in Hogley Woods, a magnificent pricket, and do you know how she had it sent to the table? However, it is no matter now, for it is all over, and I don't think it was very nice of her brothers to starve me to death, though I did kill her.


VIRGINIA: Starve you to death? Oh, Mr. Ghost—I mean Sir Simon, are you hungry? I have a sandwich in my bag. Would you like it?


SIR SIMON: No, thank you, I never eat anything now; but it is very kind of you, all the same, and you are much nicer than the rest of your horrid, rude, vulgar, dishonest family.


VIRGINIA: Stop! it is you who are rude, horrid, and vulgar, and as for dishonesty, you know you stole the paints out of my box to try and furbish up that ridiculous blood-stain in the library. First, you took all my reds, including the vermilion, and I couldn't do any more sunsets, then you took the emerald-green and the chrome-yellow, and finally, I had nothing left but indigo and Chinese white, and could only do moonlight scenes, which are always depressing to look at, and not at all easy to paint. I never told on you, though I was very much annoyed, and it was most ridiculous, the whole thing; for who ever heard of emerald-green blood?


SIR SIMON: Americans! Never, in a brilliant and uninterrupted career of three hundred years, have I been so grossly insulted. I miss the days of the Dowager Duchess, whom I had frightened into a fit as she stood before the glass in her lace and diamonds; and of the four housemaids, who had gone into hysterics when I merely grinned at them through the curtains on one of the spare bedrooms. Why even the rector of the parish, whose candle I blew out as he was coming late one night from the library was frightened of me. And after all this, some wretched modern Americans come and offer me Rising Sun Lubricator and throw pillows at my head! It is quite unbearable! No ghost in history has ever been treated in this manner. But I will have my vengeance. I will punish them for their insolence! Beeewaaare my wrath.


 

  

Ghosts Of Christmas Side 6 (The History of Krampus )Johnny, Grandmother

GRANDMOTHER: Johnny my dear, hand me my shawl please. 

 

JOHNNY: Of course Grandmother. (Retrieves shawl from hall tree and drapes it around her shoulders, eager to get to the Christmas treats in the dining room) May I escort you to the dining room?

 

GRANDMOTHER: My old bones are far too chilled this midwinter. My age hangs upon my shoulders in unexpected ways at times. 

 

JOHNNY: Oh Grandmother, you and Grandfather are the oldest people I know!

 

GRANDMOTHER: (clears throat, unhappily JOHNNY has the grace to see his misstep) One day, if you are fortunate, you may see as many Christmases as have I. (After a pause) A story comes to my mind, that may do you some good. 

 

JOHNNY: But the cake! The punch!

 

GRANDMOTHER: The treats will wait for a moment while you listen. 

 

JOHNNY: (reluctantly) Very well Grandmother…

 

GRANDMOTHER: When I was young (JOHNNY sighs loudly, GRANDMOTHER gives him a stern look) When I was young, about your sister’s age, I had the most wonderful governess. Miss Franz, was so fresh and smart. She had immigrated from Austria in the early days of our Queen’s reign. To me she was exotic and quite exciting, filled with stories from foreign lands. My particular favorites were her stories of Christmas…

 

JOHNNY: (suddenly eager)  Monsters? Real monsters? Please tell me!

 

GRANDMOTHER: Very real! This is the story of Krampus, the half man, half goat monster who punishes naughty children at Christmastime. High in the Austrian Alps, the children become as excited as you during the month of December. Woe betide the children who do not obey their parents, don’t listen to their grandmothers

 

JOHNNY: I’m not certain I like this story…(JOHNNY shifts uncomfortably

 

GRANDMOTHER: He has long fangs and horns placed high upon his forehead. His claws rip and his cloven hooves clatter on the cobblestone streets. He growls and snarls at his young prey hiding in shadows and darkness to pounce. Across his hairy back he has slung a rough sack that wriggles with the children he has captured to drag them to the depths of He—

 

JOHNNY: (Jumps up terrified) No!! I haven’t been naughty! I will be better!

Mama!! (He runs away) (GRANDMOTHER laughs)

 

 

 

Ghosts Of Christmas Side 7 (The Doll’s Ghost – Francis Marion Crawford)

Mother/Gwendolyn, Butler (Jenkins), Nursemaid (Daughter) Ms. Pringle (Aunt Amelia),

 

MOTHER: That boxing day, there was a terrible accident, and for one moment the splendid machinery of my father’s house got out of gear and stood still. The butler emerged from his pantry, the nursemaid appeared simultaneously from the opposite direction, and those who remember the facts most exactly assert that Mrs. Pringle the housekeeper came running from the kitchen.  Their feelings were indescribable. The nursemaid in fact sat down right on the floor and burst into tears as I slowly picked myself up from the bottom of the stairs.


BUTLER (gasping): Oh!


NURSEMAID (wailing): Aahhhh!


MRS. PRINGLE: Calm yourselves! It’s only that doll, that’s broken, thank heavens! Mary, comfort Miss Gwendolen. Jenkins, fetch the doll.


GWENDOLEN: I have no bruises for the carpet was very thick and soft. It’s just poor Nina that has come to grief. (her eyes well up and she sniffs, but she courageously doesn’t cry)


BUTLER: Here you are miss. I’m so sorry.


GWENDOLEN (holding back tears): It was my fault for not paying attention. Poor thing. She was such a beautiful doll, with real yellow hair, and eyelids that would open and shut. When you moved her right arm up and down she said Pa-pa, and when you moved the left she said Ma-ma, very distinctly. (sniffs) I just got her for Christmas, and it’s sad to lose her so soon.


NURSEMAID: I heard her say Pa when she fell, but she ought to have said Pa-pa.


MRS. PRINGLE: That’s because her arm went up when she hit the step. She’ll say the other Pa when it’s let down again. (She pushes down the doll’s arm.)


NURSEMAID: I’m sure it’s a wonder she can speak at all, being all smashed.


MRS. PRINGLE: You’ll have to take her to Mr. Tinker, to be fixed. It’s not far away, but you’d better go at once.


GWENDOLEN: Perhaps we should dig her a grave instead?


NURSEMAID: Oh, she’ll come to life again all right. Don’t you worry.

 

Ghosts Of Christmas Side 8 ( The Canterville Ghost– Oscar Wilde)

Father/Mr. Otis, Mrs. Otis (Mother) Virginia (Daughter), Washinton (Johnny) Ms. Umney (Aunt Amelia)

 

FATHER: A few weeks after this, the purchase was concluded, and at the beginning of the holiday season the Otis family went down to Canterville Chase. Standing on the steps to receive them was an old woman, neatly dressed in black silk, with a white cap and apron. This was Mrs. Umney, the housekeeper. 


MRS. UMNEY (curtseying): I bid you welcome to Canterville Chase. We are so pleased to have you visiting from Texas. If you would follow me, I can give you a short tour of your new home. 


MRS. OTIS: Why what a fine house this is! You say it goes all the way back to the Tudor era.


MR. OTIS: I hope not. Those Tudors were a bit bloody minded for my taste. Always chopping off heads and such things.


WASHINGTON (shouting): Off with her head! Off with her head!


MRS. UMNEY: If you’ll follow me, I have tea laid out in the parlor for you. 

(Mrs. Otis catches sight of a dull red stain on the floor just by the fireplace)


VIRGINIA: Oh my, I am afraid something has been spilt here.


MRS. UMNEY: Yes, Miss. blood has been spilt on that spot.


MRS. OTIS: How horrid. I don't at all care for bloodstains in a sitting-room. It must be removed at once.


MRS. UMNEY (in a mysterious voice): It is the blood of Lady Eleanore de Canterville, who was murdered on that very spot by her own husband, Sir Simon de Canterville, in 1575. Sir Simon survived her by nine years and disappeared suddenly under very mysterious circumstances. His body has never been discovered, but his guilty spirit still haunts the Chase. The bloodstain has been much admired by tourists and others, and cannot be removed.


MR. OTIS: That is all nonsense. Pinkerton's Champion Stain Remover and Paragon Detergent will clean it up in no time.

(He drops to his knees, and begins rapidly scouring the floor with a small stick of what looks like a black cosmetic. In a few moments no trace of the blood-stain can be seen.)


MR. OTIS (triumphantly): Hah! I knew Pinkerton would do it!

 

 

 

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