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Event Details

Audition: The Duchess of Malfi

  • 28/10/2019
  • 31/10/2019
  • 3 sessions
  • 28/10/2019, 19:30 22:00 (UTC-00:00)
  • 29/10/2019, 19:30 22:00 (UTC-00:00)
  • 31/10/2019, 19:30 22:00 (UTC-00:00)
  • Putney Arts Theatre


  • Registering for this event will sign you up as attending this event. Please let us know if your intentions change.

Audition dates

Monday 28th October, 7.30pm & Tuesday 29th October, 7.30pm

Recalls:  Thursday 31st October, 7.30pm


Below are details of the auditions and backstage help required for The Duchess of Malfi. Please get in touch with the Director, Jaz Manville, with any questions you may have by emailing jaz.manville@icloud.com 

Performance Space

Main stage at Putney Arts Theatre

Performance Dates

11th - 15th Feb 2020, 7.45pm

Rehearsal Period

Rehearsals will take place from early November for 2-3 evenings a week, as well as around 3 hours rehearsal on a Sunday. Sometimes there may be a need to rehearse on Saturdays and to rehearse on different days and times.  Most actors will only be called for 2 rehearsals a week until the final few weeks, when actors should be prepared to rehearse on up to 4 days a week.

Please note: This is an amateur production. You do not need to be a member of Putney Theatre Company to audition, but actors and crew will need to become a member of Putney Theatre Company to take part in the show for £20 a year, and a £25 show fee will be due.


This play contains sustained violence, sexual assault, child deaths and extreme mental illness – if you wish to discuss how this production will handle these, please do not hesitate to contact the director: jaz.manville@icloud.com 

The Duchess of Malfi is a widowed ruler whose brothers, Ferdinand and the Cardinal, are keen to control her power. The brothers wish the Duchess not to remarry and, suspicious of their sister, persuade their dependant, Bosola, to spy on her. The Duchess, however, has fallen in love and then secretly marries her steward, Antonio, with help from her maid, Cariola.

Nine months later, Bosola becomes suspicious that the Duchess is pregnant. The Duchess gives birth, but Antonio loses the horoscope prepared for the child. Bosola finds the horoscope and informs the Duchess’ brothers, who are furious.

Over the next few years, the Duchess and Antonio have two more children. Ferdinand returns to Malfi and spies on the Duchess. Ferdinand reveals himself and threatens the Duchess. She informs Ferdinand that she is married, but this further incenses him, swearing that he will never see her again.

Antonio is persuaded by the Duchess to flee under the guise that she had banished him. The Duchess reveals to Bosola that Antonio is the father of her children and where he is. Bosola reluctantly takes this information to her brothers.

The Duchess and Cariola take the children out of Malfi to meet Antonio. The plan to escape becomes impossible, so the Duchess persuades Antonio to take their eldest child to Milan. They escape, as the Duchess, Cariola and the two youngest children are imprisoned.

Whilst imprisoned, Ferdinand visits the Duchess and persuades her that Antonio and her eldest child are dead. Bosola pleads for her life but the Duchess, Cariola and the two young children are killed. Ferdinand, on seeing the Duchess’ corpse, is overcome with remorse and blames Bosola for the murders that Ferdinand himself ordered.

Ferdinand returns to the Cardinal but it quickly becomes apparent he is seriously mentally unstable and believes himself to be a wolf. The Cardinal tries to enlist Bosola to kill Antonio. Bosola, however, plots to kill the brothers themselves. Bosola enlists the Cardinal’s mistress, Julia, to help his plan but the Cardinal kills her. Bosola waits to kill the Cardinal, overhearing his plan to kill Bosola, but accidentally kills Antonio instead.

Bosola confronts the Cardinal, waking Ferdinand, who joins the argument. They all kill each other. Delio, Antonio’s best friend, arrives with the Duchess and Antonio’s eldest child and promises to raise the child to be a better leader. 

Audition Preparation

Auditions will involve group movement and vocal exercises as well as pre-prepared speeches from the table below. Please select one speech per character you wish to audition for (links to PDFs in the table below). These speeches should not be off-script. At auditions, we will hear a maximum of two speeches but please inform us if you are interested in any other parts. A short, unaccompanied song (max 1 minute) is optional for all except BOSOLA. Please ensure that you have read the play FULLY and that you have an understanding of the character/s you are auditioning for.  Please also make sure you arrive on time.


Act 1 Sc 1 “The misery of us that are born great … I use but half a blush in’t” (433-451)
Act 4 Sc 2 “Oh that it were possible we might … Who do I look like now?” (20-30)


Unaccompanied song
Act 1 Sc 1 “He and his brother are like plum trees … hoped for a pardon?” (48-57)
Act IV Sc II “Why fare thee well … were this to do again?” (307-315, 317-323 and 326-329 – excluding Ferdinand’s responses)
Act 1 Sc 1 “He and his brother are like plum trees … hoped for a pardon?” (48-57)
Act IV Sc II “Why fare thee well … were this to do again?” (307-315, 317-323 and 326-329 – excluding Ferdinand’s responses)

FERDINAND  Act 3 Sc 2 “The howling of a wolf … Lest it bewray him” (88-109)
 CARDINAL Act 2 Sc 4 “Why do you weep? … Yet cannot tune it - still you are to thank me” (20-26 and 27-36 - excluding Julia’s response)
 ANTONIO Act 1 Sc 1 “Most true … And dress themselves in her” (175-199)
 ELDEST CHILD No speech required

Act 2 Sc 2 Delio “Believe it … Old friends, like old swords, still are trusted best” (71-80)
Act 5 Sc 2 Doctor “I’ll tell you … Very well recovered” (7-21)
Act 5 Sc 2 Julia “No, he might count me a wanton … I should have courted you” (182-192)


A note on casting:
This production will be focusing on the gender identities and roles of the characters. Therefore, some characters’ genders are specified. These roles are open to anyone who feels comfortable and able to portray this gender identity. BOSOLA’s arc will explore a non-binary indentity/gender fluidity and therefore the actor will need to be comfortable portraying a character in various stages of gender exploration and identity. Other roles are ‘open to all genders’ so the characters’ gender identity will be defined in rehearsals.

Trans*, non-binary and gender fluid actors are encouraged to audition for any character.

If you have any questions about any of this, or wish to discuss anything further, please do not hesitate to contact me: jaz.manville@icloud.com 


An unstable ruler who is required to carefully control her public image in order to maintain her power. Her brothers (the CARDINAL and FERDINAND) are hugely jealous of her power and feel emasculated and judged in the public eye. Her marriage to ANTONIO is her true freedom. Her suitability as a leader is only truly demonstrated when she loses her power and is murdered as she is finally unobserved.

BOSOLA open to all ages Genderfluid/NB

Returning from imprisonment due to crimes they committed for FERDINAND and the CARDINAL, BOSOLA is a hugely manipulated by the brothers and has adopted their view of the DUCHESS, gender roles and power. Slowly, BOSOLA’s loyalty shifts to the DUCHESS. Throughout the play, their understanding of their own identity and morality is explored for the first time. Some singing required.

ANTONIO 20-40 Male

Idealistic returnee to Malfi. Confident and ongoing but somewhat naïve. Never quite comprehends the Duchess’ complicated political world or family power. Relies heavily on DELIO but ails to heed their warnings.

FERDINAND 25-45 Male

DUCHESS OF MALFI’s twin who finds her power very difficult. Hugely concerned by how he believes himself to be emasculated by her in the public eye – the public doesn’t care. He has had an unstable grasp on reality and his desires which dramatically worsens through the play.


Irreligious man of God who has managed the tension between FERDINAND and the DUCHESS OF MALFI for years. Like FERDINAND, he is overly aware of public opinion which doesn’t really care about him. His relationship with JULIA has real affection and his murderous decision when he realises the relationship threatens his grasp on power is true tragedy.

CARIOLA open to all ages Female

DUCHESS OF MALFI’s maid/assistant who helps her to hide new marriage (to ANTONIO) and young family from the public and her brothers. She is intensely loyal but not unjudgemental of ANTONIO and the DUCHESS’ family – who largely dismisses her legitimate concerns.

DELIO open to all ages / genders

ANTONIO’s oldest friend. Capable and loyal. Mistrusted by the court as they are an outsider in their eyes. They are instrumental in the protection of the DUCHESS and ANTONIO’s eldest child and the future of Malfi.

JULIA open to all ages / genders

Bored, emotionally distant and trapped in an unhappy relationship. There is real romantic connection in their relationship with the CARDINAL and in different circumstances may have made both happy.

THE ELDEST CHILD 7-12 open to all genders

The DUCHESS OF MALFI’s eldest child who is her only heir at the end of the play. Presented by DELIO and others as the hoped successor at the end of the play. In pre-recorded video and onstage.


Involved throughout the play and who present all the other parts (the OLD LADY, CASTRUCHIO, MURDERERS, SILVIO, PESCARA, the MADMEN, MALATESTE, GRISOLAN, DOCTOR and others). Movement driven group who will need to be confident creating character. Ensemble will operate the on-stage cameras. Singing useful.

Backstage opportunities available include:

  • Lighting operator,
  • Set construction,
  • Sound operator
  • Filmographer
  • Costume assistants
  • Hair and make-up assistants

Please get in touch with zoe.jeffadputneyarts@gmail.com or info@putneyartstheatre.co.uk if you are interested in getting involved.

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