Auditions – COSI

by Australian playwright Louis Nowra
Directed by Simon Corvan & Kathleen Yorston

Audition date: Sunday 17 February, 10:00am

How to Audition

  1. Download the Audition Pack PDF with character descriptions and rehearsal schedule.
  2. Register to audition by filling out the Registration Form with your details
  3. Practice and prepare one of the script extracts.

About the play

Set in a psychiatric facility, Così is a play about friendship, romance, infidelity and difference. It’s 1971 and Australia is protesting the war in Vietnam. But inside the asylum, the inmates are listening to Mozart, learning their lines and occasionally skipping their medication. It’s art, it’s mayhem, it’s a wonderful roller coaster all the way to opening night.

The icing on the cake is that it’s all based on playwright Louis Nowra’s own life. In the 1970s, he himself directed a musical with inmates from Melbourne’s Mont Park Asylum. The one-off performance brought joy to everyone involved.

First produced in 1992, COSI has become one of the most successful Australian plays produced in the last two decades. A terrific play about madness, illusion, sanity… and theatre.

Characters (description & ages)

Lewis (Male, 20s)
The protagonist of Così, Lewis is a new university graduate who has agreed to direct a play with patients from a mental institution because he needs the money. At first, Lewis shares the same values as his friends Nick and Lucy, that love is unimportant due to the ongoing Vietnam War. During the time he spends with the patients however, Lewis experiences a turning point in his understanding and perception of people. By the end of the play, Lewis learns to appreciate love and friendship over war and politics.
Note: There is kissing between Lewis & Julie, and Lewis & Cherry

Roy (Male, 40s-50s)
A highly-strung patient who insists on performing Mozart’s Così Fan Tutte even though none of the other patients can sing or speak Italian. Believing that Lewis is a poor director, Roy takes charge assigning patients to characters in the play. He is quite blunt in expressing his opinions of others. Roy has a huge emotional range in the play.

Lucy / Julie (Female, 20s) (Note: this is a double role as Lucy is a small role.)
Lucy: Girlfriend and roommate of Lewis. She has an affair with Nick who shares similar beliefs – that the Vietnam War protest is more important than anything else. Lucy cannot understand why Lewis is directing a play about love when thousands are dying in the war.
Julie: A patient addicted to illicit drugs. She is Lewis’s love interest in the play and is a catalyst for Lewis and Lucy’s deteriorating relationship. She believes that men have double standards, since females are routinely targeted for their infidelity while men are also unfaithful to their partners.
Note: There is a kiss between Lewis & Julie

Justin / Nick / Zac (Male, 20s) (Note: this is a triple role as all three are minor parts that do not overlap)
Nick: An experienced student director, roommate and friend of Lewis. He promises to help Lewis with Così Fan Tutte however, he quickly breaks this vow in order to spend time with Lucy. Lewis later discovers that Lucy and Nick are having an affair. Nick is heavily involved in the moratorium, a protest against the Vietnam War.
Zac: A patient who takes the part of musician for Così Fan Tutte. He prefers to play Wagner over Mozart, which sparks a dispute between himself and Roy. Zac is passionate about music and plays the piano and the piano accordion (it is not required that the actor can actually play these).
Justin: A social worker who organised the patients from the mental institution to be a part of the theatre project. Patronising towards the patients, he represents society’s view on the mentally ill.

Doug (Male, 20s-30s)
A patient who was sent to the mental institution as a result of burning his mother’s cats and home. He is a pyromaniac – someone who gains satisfaction from deliberately starting fires. He appears to light fires quite frequently, once in the theatre toilets and once outside the theatre. He also supports free love and is keen on the potential violence that may transpire at the moratorium.

Cherry (Female, 20s-40s)
A patient who has an abusive personality and carries a flick knife with her. She has a violent relationship with Doug, as she is always ordering him to ‘go burn a cat.’ She is overprotective of Lewis, on whom she has a crush. As a form of affection, she is constantly feeding him with food in order to ‘fatten’ him up.
Note: There is a kiss between Lewis & Cherry

Ruth (Female, 30s-40s)
A patient suffering from an obsessive disorder. Throughout the play, she focuses on minor issues such as having real or fake coffee on set, and the number of steps she needs to take to reach her position on stage.

Henry (Male, 40s-50s)  (Note: this is a minor role with relatively few lines)
A shy patient, a damaged soul, who rarely speaks and avoids eye contact with others. A former lawyer, he now suffers from a disability with his left arm. However, it is shown to be a false disability when he switches his ‘bad arm’ from left to right. He is subservient to others, especially Roy. Towards the end of the play however, he overcomes his timidity to defend Lewis.
Note: Henry has a bad stutter.

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