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Auditions (Calgary): The Dark Lady – Lunchbox Theatre

The Virgin Trial – Alberta Theatre Projects
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Auditions (Calgary): The Dark Lady – Lunchbox Theatre

Lunchbox Theatre is happy to invite audition submissions for our The Dark Lady by Jessica B. Hill, co-produced by The Shakespeare Company.
Artists must be able to work locally in Calgary, AB (no travel or accommodation will be provided).
Directed by Bronwyn Steinberg, Artistic Director of Lunchbox Theatre

Emilia Bassano, known as the possible woman behind the Dark Lady of Shakespeare’s sonnets, was actually one of England’s first female published poets. She was also trilingual, mixed race, and a force to be reckoned with. The Dark Lady collides these two poets together as they wrestle with artistic collaboration, ambition, envy and love. An entanglement that will profoundly shape both their lives and their work. The Dark Lady helps us understand and challenge our love of Shakespeare through Bassano’s lens.

Emilia Bassano
William Shakespeare

Both start the play in their mid-20s and end in their mid-50s.

Notes on the roles:
Emilia is Kate, Juliet, Beatrice, Rosalind, Cleopatra and Paulina rolled into one. She is witty, fiery, refined, ambitious, huge-hearted and headstrong. A woman with an independent heart in a world where she needs to be dependent on men to survive.

Shakespeare is equally ambitious, he’s still a country mouse underneath the cocky exterior when we meet him off the top, trying to fit in with the courtly elite. He’s a sponge, eager to learn all he can. A businessman, an entertainer with a sharp eye for what sells. He’s not the biggest risk taker: he’s seen the price his friends have paid for getting too rambunctious or political. He’s an observer, capable of capturing the scope of the human spirit in his work, but at a loss when it comes to expressing what he feels.

Notes on casting:
The actor playing Emilia must visually convey the image of someone from a diaspora that has been othered, racialized and marginalized. Someone whose cultural and racial history and identity have not been centre stage historically. Ideally, she should have dark skin, dark hair and dark eyes. Because music is so central to the piece, the possibility of an Emilia that can also play the guitar, piano or lute is most welcome.

It’s possible the historical Emilia Bassano had Sephardic, African, Arabic and/or Spanish lineage. She had a mixed race identity and Elizabethans referred to her musician cousins as Black men.

The actor playing Shakespeare must be able to visually convey a sense of cultural, racial, ethnic privilege in his society. Though he comes from a small town, and has less education than he would have liked, he has unwittingly benefitted from the privilege of his sex, race and culture.

Rehearsals begin September 11, 2023
Open October 5, 2023
Closes October 22, 2023

Please submit using this form:

Agents: please do not send bulk submissions. If submitting for your clients, submit them individually, using the google form.

Selected actors will be sent an audition invitation and asked to prepare material from the script. Please also be prepared to chat a bit with the team in attendance and know that you may or may not be redirected on your audition material.

AUDITION DATES: June 12 & 13, 2023

If you have questions regarding auditions, please send us an email to

Access and inclusion are important to us. If you have barriers to access to any part of our process, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us and we will work with you to find the best way for us to get to know you and your work.

Representation matters—to our artists as well as our audiences and the larger community. We are inclusive in the stories that we tell and the people we represent on our stage, so that we can continually engage with new artists, audiences and communities, who are eager to see themselves reflected onstage. Lunchbox Theatre is committed to providing an environment that is free of discrimination and harassment, where all individuals are treated with respect and dignity, can contribute fully, and have equal opportunities.

Equity members will be seen first at all open audition calls. Please bring your membership number to the audition.

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