ETS logo
Auckland logo


The Lady in the Van

Saturday 25 August 2018 1:30 pm
image for audition

Stables Theatre
Cnr Arthur St & Main Highway

The Play
THE LADY IN THE VAN, adapted by Alan Bennett from his memoir, tells the true story of his unlikely friendship with Miss Shepherd, a homeless elderly woman who took up residence on Bennett’s street in a broken-down van, until parking regulations changed. Bennett, in a moment of misguided generosity, offered her a temporary park in his driveway in 1973, where she stayed for the next 15 years. Miss Shepherd, a promising concert pianist between the wars and drove an ambulance during World War II, was twice rejected from becoming a nun. Well-educated, cantankerously articulate and deeply religious, she had lived in a succession of vans around Camden.

Bennett recounts the strange life of Miss Shepherd and her van, which was overstuffed with decades' worth of old clothes, oozing batteries, and kitchen utensils still in their original packaging. A mesmerizing portrait of an outsider with an acquisitive taste and an indomitable spirit, this biographical essay is drawn with equal parts fascination and compassion and is, as you would expect from Bennett, a beautifully observed, sharply intelligent and wonderfully witty drama.

Contact details
Contact Des Smith to get an e-copy of the play and to find out which pieces to focus on for the audition.
Des Smith
telephone: 021 323 513

Commence Tuesday 4 September 2018, Tuesdays and Thursdays each week from 7.30pm, Sundays from 12.30pm

Thursday 8 November to Saturday 17 November 2018 - 10 performances including 2 matinees

About the director
Des is delighted to be returning to the theatre company he calls home. Having acted in several plays with ETS over the years, ETS took a leap of faith giving Des his directorial debut with The Weir in 2007. The play went on to win best production in the annual ACTT awards. Des followed this with The History Boys, also by Alan Bennett, in 2010 (ACTT best comedy) and Travels with My Aunt in 2012. Des's directorial style is to give the actors a solid framework and vision to work within and then work in a creative and fun environment. This allows all members of the team from the actors to the technical crew to contribute and discuss ideas that work within the overall vision. 'When people are allowed to give of their creativity and ideas freely without fear, the journey is an experience everyone will remember with pleasure. The result is something that an audience can feel the energy and love of what has been created by all involved.'

Play Setting
The action of the play takes place in Alan Bennett's house and garden and the street outside, in Camden, London between 1974 and 1989.

Cast Required
* The ages are only suggestions and should only be treated as guidelines. If you are outside of this age range but feel you are perfect for the role, please come along to audition.

* English accents are required and will vary according to the Character. For the purpose of the audition it will be necessary to attempt an accent.

Miss Shepherdfemale 60s Eccentric elderly lady living in a broken-down van, first of all on the street, then in Bennett’s garden, of unsocial and disgusting personal habits. Deranged in a very logical manner! A Catholic, lapsed or otherwise!
Alan Bennett #1male The younger Bennett, who generously (and unthinkingly) gives Miss S. space to park in his garden. Yorkshire accent, probably broader than the older Bennett.
Alan Bennett #2male The older Bennett, looking back on the incidents which occurred during her “tenure” in his garden.
Rufusmale Upwardly mobile inhabitants of the area, inhabited by people such as Harold Pinter, Ursula Vaughan Williams & others of the intelligentsia.
Paulinefemale Upwardly mobile inhabitants of the area, inhabited by people such as Harold Pinter, Ursula Vaughan Williams & others of the intelligentsia.
Social Workereither Well-meaning and concerned, but utterly at sea with Miss S.’s eccentricities.
Underwoodmale A run-down elegant figure still with remnants of his “better days” hanging about him. A resident of Arlington House, a hostel for the tramps of the area.
Mamfemale 60+ Bennett’s mother. The opposite of Miss S. House proud, cleanliness an obsession. The background to Bennett’s whole life. Suffers (progressively as the play goes on) from dementia of some kind. Yorkshire accent.
Leo Fairchildmale Miss S.'s brother who turns up near the end and explains some things.
Various small roleseither Characters are adaptable and can be added to or removed.

Print-friendly format