Derek Tarson is looking for 15 actors (10 men, 5 women) of any race or ethnicity to play roles in the upcoming reading on Zoom of George Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman (including Don Juan in Hell).

Unlike previous readings, Derek will be auditioning actors and anticipates 2 or 3 rehearsals before the reading on December 4, 2020. Below are the details:



Auditions will be held in private Zoom sessions. If you are interested, please send an email to Derek Tarson at [email protected]to let him know your interest and which role(s) you are interested in reading, and which of the audition slots below you are available for.

(Please provide all audition slots for which you are available, though you can state a preference and Derek will try to accommodate that preference.) Derek will reply to your email, attach an audition side or sides, and provide a Zoom link for your audition time. Once your audition time is set, it can only be rescheduled for a personal emergency, so make sure you attend.

The Zoom meeting scheduled will not take long. The primary purposes are to (a) make sure that you can read Shaw’s language with flair, (b) make sure you have the technical capability to use Zoom (you do not have to be expert, but must know the basics so that we can have a successful reading), and, finally, (c) to assess you for the role(s) for which you are auditioning.

Audition Slots into which Zoom auditions will be scheduled are:

1) Sunday, 11/15 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
2) Monday, 11/16 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
3) Tuesday, 11/17 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
4) Thursday, 11/19 from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
5) Saturday, 11/21 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.


If you are cast, there may be one or two rehearsals (depending on the size of your role) to read through the play once so you are familiar with the language and the context before our performed reading, which will be recorded and put on YouTube. All rehearsals will be on Zoom.


Saturday, December 4, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. Actors will be expected to log on at 12:45 so we can make sure everyone is present and ready and deal with any last-minute issues.


If you would like a copy of the script or have any questions, please call or email the director, Derek Tarson – Email: [email protected]; Cell Phone: (845) 405-1309.


One of George Bernard Shaw’s longer plays – “Man and Superman,” which is light fare for most of the play, contains a dream sequence in hell in Act 3 where four characters discuss heaven, hell, love, marriage, religion, and the respective roles of men and women in society. Many times, the scene in hell is excised and performed as a staged reading, called “Don Juan in Hell.” Sometimes, Man and Superman is staged without Act 3 as a piece on its own. Very seldom is the entire show performed due to its length. COVID-19 is now giving us an opportunity to read the entire show as it was written and was meant to be performed. Together, the play explores the evolution of man, and woman’s undeniable role in helping man evolve. (There are allusions to Mozart’s opera “Don Giovanni” and to Nietzschean philosophy about the “ubermensch,” but one does not need to know either Nietzche or Mozart to perform in or enjoy the play.)

Man and Superman (excluding Don Juan in Hell) is set in England (and later Spain) in 1903 and involves Jack Tanner, a revolutionary socialist (much like Shaw), who is named as guardian of a friend’s daughters, discovers one of the daughters, Anne, has scheming designs on him, and he flees to Spain to escape her. Meanwhile, his friend’s sister is expecting a baby without being known to be married (a serious matter in 1903). Full of irreverent Shavian wit and interesting characters, the play provides light-hearted fun, and, when paired with Don Juan in Hell, provides much insight and intellectual fodder to enjoy.

Although Shaw hints that the characters in Don Juan in Hell are to be played by characters in Man and Superman, the intent for this reading is to have those roles played by different characters to give opportunities to as many actors as possible.

CASTING BREAKDOWN (10m, 5f) (in order of appearance) – These roles can be played by actors and actresses of any race:

Roebuck Ramsden (male, 55+) – an aging civil reformer who was friend to the late Mr. Whitefield. Although he is politically radical, he is socially conservative – to the extent of being proper, almost stodgy.

Octavius Robinson (male, 20-30) – an amiable young man who is in love with Ann Whitefield. He is comfortably wealthy and an aesthete and poet – very “sensitive.”

John Tanner (male, 25-50), also called “Jack Tanner” – a well-educated, well-spoken man who takes everything seriously, including himself; a “political firebrand and confirmed bachelor.” He wrote a book called “A Revolutionist’s Handbook and Pocket Companion by John Tanner, M.I.R.C. (Member of the Idle Rich Class).”

Ann Whitefield (female 20-35) – a young woman, graceful, somewhat enigmatic. She’s catnip, and she knows it. She uses her beauty to exercise as much persuasive power as a woman at the beginning of the 20th century can wield. She’s very good at manipulating people to get what she wants.

Mrs. Whitefield (female 50+) – Ann’s mother. She is meek and somewhat washed-out. She is aware of Ann’s tactics and tries to warn other people, but they don’t take her seriously.

Miss Ramsden (female 50+) – Roebuck’s sister. An upright and stern maiden lady. She knows what is proper and will not accept any compromises.

Violet Robinson (female 20-30) – sister of Octavius Robinson. She has just been determined to be pregnant, but won’t tell any of her family who the father is. She is headstrong and willful.

Henry Straker (male, 20-40), chauffeur with a cockney accent. He loves automobiles (which are very new in 1903), and is proud of his background – actually feeling sorry for the upper class.

Hector Malone, Jr. (male, 20-40), an American gentleman of good breeding. He is proud of the differences between Americans and Brits – and, compared to them, is overly chivalrous to women, prone to oratory, and slightly offended by the coarseness in the conversation of Brits.

Mendoza (male, 40+), a Jewish anarchist and leader of brigands. Spurned by a gentile woman he loved, he gave up his conventional life and, “breaking bad,” turned to a life of crime – now robbing motor cars on a mountain pass in Spain. He is intelligent, a socialist, and adorably Shavian.

CHARACTERS OF DON JUAN IN HELL (The following four characters, in addition to their characteristics described below, should be urbane, witty, and dressed to the nines – a sort of Algonquin Round Table.) The concept is that hell is not unpleasant and that anyone can live whatever fantasy they choose, but there are no responsibilities or consequences from anyone’s actions. Heaven, on the other hand, is for people who want to make a difference in the world, and anyone can choose freely whether to go to heaven or hell.

Don Juan (male, 30+) – The former lothario of legend. He believes in the overpowering life-force and wants to go to heaven where he can have a role in assisting in the evolution of mankind.

Dona Ana (female, 27+) – Don Juan’s former love-interest. Recently arrived in hell, she retains, at first, the inhibitions of her Catholic upbringing, but, as the debate continues, she continually punctures the chauvinist assumptions of the men around her and, eventually, embraces the ideal of helping mankind evolve by perfecting the process of rearing children.

The Statue (male, 50+) – Dona Ana’s father. He is comfortable in a hedonistic life style and believes that the evolution of mankind is a futile venture.

The Devil (male, any age) – The proponent of hell. Very dry sense of humor. He doesn’t want anyone to go to heaven because it would be a political loss for him – and he also argues that mankind is doomed by technology and war and that evolution of mankind is futile.

Hector Malone, Sr. (male, 50+) (appears in Act IV of Man & Superman) – an elderly Irish-American gentleman, who is a little coarse, but who has worked hard throughout his life to attain a high social status in which he now takes pride.

(Various servants and the social democrats and anarchists in Mendoza’s band will be cast by actors playing main roles.)

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Elmwood Casting Policy

Elmwood Community Playhouse is a Non-Equity theater and cannot cast members of Actors Equity. Casting of actors in roles is done on the basis of acting skill and ability demonstrated during the audition process, as well as on the actor’s appropriateness and suitability (physical, vocal, mental, emotional) for available roles. We are committed to providing equal opportunity and nondiscrimination in all aspects of our organization. Except in plays where race, gender, or age is an issue, casting is decided on the basis of ability. Any member of the community or any invited guest artist regardless of race, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, age, or special need is invited to participate. Non-traditional and equal-opportunity casting is encouraged. If, in the opinion of the director, a suitable cast cannot be selected from those who have auditioned, auditions may be extended beyond the original schedule, or else specific individuals may be invited to fill the need(s). Elmwood has an open door casting policy, meaning you do not need previous experience with us to be cast. We often cast performers the first time they audition for us. Elmwood maintains a “no pre-casting” policy, meaning all roles are available during the time a show is auditioning. If you have a part that you are interested in, make note of it on your audition form or speak to the director. Anyone cast in a show must become a member of the Elmwood Playhouse. Elmwood Playhouse maintains an “open auditions” policy. All are welcome to “try out” for a show or a particular part in a show. Dates for upcoming auditions are listed on the web site, and announced in the members’ newsletter. Some casting processes may involve two dates for primary auditions, and one date for callbacks. You will be asked to fill out an audition form, and if you have a head shot &/or resume, definitely bring it along, but it is not necessary for our audition process. Come prepared to list all your schedule conflicts from the day of auditions through the closing performance of the show.

Acting Opportunities

Elmwood Playhouse produces: Six “main stage” shows a year. Involvement in these generally requires an average of 2-3 nights a week rehearsal for approx 8 weeks, and 12 to 20 performances over a period of 4 to 6 weeks. Actual schedules will vary by show. A variety of “one performance” workshops for the monthly membership meetings, generally the first Monday of the month and open to the public. Special event performances throughout the year. This gives a broad range of opportunities for actors of varied skills and backgrounds to get on stage, whether you’re looking for a leading role or a small part to “get your feet wet”. Our shows run four to five weekends, occasionally with benefit performances during the week.

If you are cast…

All cast and crew personnel are required to become members of Elmwood Community Playhouse and are required to attend strike, which is held the Sunday after the final performance. By taking part in a production, you also allow that images of yourself captured by Elmwood Community Playhouse during their activities (including but not limited to rehearsals, productions and special events) through video, photo and/or digital camera, to be used solely for the purposes of Elmwood Community Playhouse promotional materials/publications and web site, and waive any right of compensation or ownership thereto. As is true in the professional world of theatre and dance, if the director or choreographer believes that a cast member’s participation in a production is unsatisfactory, it is his/her right to replace the person. A professional attitude and commitment to productions are expected at all times.