Upcoming Auditions


by Lynn Nottage

Will be held:


Venable Dance, Venable Building, 3rd Floor, 375 Church Street, North Adams, MA

If you would like to audition, but are not able to make the scheduled audition time, please contact Laura Standley at for an alternative.

Audition Requirements
ACTORS: The audition will consist of a group audition consisting of theatre games and exercises that not only helps us determine your fit for casting, but also helps you determine whether this project is right for you. You may also be asked to do cold-readings of short sections of text from the play.

No experience necessary.

Preparation: None needed. Just show up!

Cold reading. A cold reading is when you are handed a script and asked to perform a scene. If asked to cold-read, you will be given a section of material from the play, paired with a partner and allowed a short amount of time to rehearse together. No preparation necessary for cold-readings, though it can be helpful to familiarize yourself with the play.

If you would like access to a copy of the play ahead of time, please contact Laura Standley at

Evaluation: The group audition will be evaluated based on the following areas: 

Ability to follow directions
Emotional honesty
Vocal strength and variety
Ability to distinguish between personal and general space 

Enthusiasm and focus
Creative and social cooperation with other performers
Ability to improvise (make it up as you go along, go with the flow) 

Please note that all roles are open to all ethnicities and abilities. 

About the Play

INTIMATE APPAREL: The time is 1905, the place New York City, where Esther, a black seamstress, lives in a boarding house for women and sews intimate apparel for clients who range from wealthy white patrons to prostitutes. Her skills and discretion are much in demand, and she has managed to stuff a goodly sum of money into her quilt over the years. One by one, the other denizens of the boarding house marry and move away, but Esther remains, lonely and longing for a husband and a future. Her plan is to find the right man and use the money she's saved to open a beauty parlor where black women will be treated as royally as white women she sews for. By way of mutual acquaintance, she begins to receive beautiful letters from a lonesome Caribbean man named George, who is working on the Panama Canal. Being illiterate, Ester has one of her patrons respond to the letters, and over time the correspondence becomes increasingly intimate, until George persuades her that they should marry, sight unseen. Meanwhile, Esther's heart seems to lie with the Hasidic shopkeeper from whom she buys cloth, and his heart with her, but the impossibility of the match is obvious to them both, and Esther consents to marry George. When George arrives in New York, however, he turns out not to be the man his letters painted him to be. He betrays Esther, wounding her deeply, but somehow unbroken, Esther returns to the boarding house determined to use her gifted hands and her sewing machine to refashion her dreams and make them anew from the whole cloth of her life's experiences.

"a deeply moving portrait of Esther, an African American woman... Nottage's play has a delicacy and eloquence that seem absolutely right for the time she is depicting." New York Daily News

"thoughtful, affecting... the play offers poignant commentary on an era when the cut and color of one's dress -- and of course, skin --determined whom one could and could not marry, sleep with, even talk to in public." Variety

Winner of the 2004 New York Drama Critics' Circle and the Outer Critics Circle Awards.

Character Breakdown

Esther Mills is a 35-year-old African American seamstress from North Carolina who specializes in bespoke lingerie. She has a variety of clients throughout Manhattan and makes beautiful garments for women from many classes and walks of life including prostitutes and wealthy debutants. 

She is a resident of Mrs. Dickson’s rooming house where she has lived since she was 18 years old. Like millions of Black folks during the post Civil War reconstruction period,  Esther left her home in the rural South and made her way to New York in pursuit of new opportunities and a better life.  Through her sewing labor and discretion, she has saved $1800 which she keeps hidden in the seam of her “colorful, crazy quilt”

Esther is a focused and determined woman who also dreams of finding love and of one day owning a beauty parlor where Black women can receive the “royal treatment”

Mayme is a 30 year old African American woman from Mississippi who resides in the Tenderloin (red light and entertainment) district of Manhattan. She comes from a religious family that she has disconnected herself from. She grew up with some means and is an educated woman who studied music for 12 years.  A gifted singer and piano player, Mayme makes her living as a prostitute but fantasizes of performing as a pianist in Europe.  She is a client of Esther's who has also become a close friend and confidant. 

Mrs. Dickson is a 50 year old African American woman and the proprietor of the boarding house where Esther lives in Lower Manhattan. She has a strong will, a good heart and an opinion about everything. Mrs. Dickson’s mother was a washer woman and Mrs. Dickson married a much older man (who has since died) in order to secure both financial stability and independence which were rare for woman of her time. 

Mr. Marks is a 30 year old Orthadox Jewish immigrant from Romania who owns a small fabric shop that Esther frequents. (The shop also doubles as his living quarters and bedroom)  Although Mr. Marks is in an arranged marriage with a woman in Romania who he has never met, he and Esther have a fondness for one another that is often expressed in their shared love of delicate fabrics

Mrs. VanBuren is an educated, wealthy white woman in her 30’s who resides in Upper Manhattan and has a “hint of a southern accent”. She is a client of Esther’s who confides that she has been trying to conceive a child with her husband who frequently abandons and ignores her in pursuit of “other interests”. She has fantasies about living a bohemian lifestyle away from high society and also harbors some romantic/ sexual feelings towards Esther. 

George Armstrong is a Barbadian immigrant in his 30’s with a “musical voice” who has been working as a laborer building the Panama Canal. He strikes up an unlikely correspondence and distance courtship with Esther and later moves to New York to marry her and pursue a better life. Only after he and Esther have married and set up a home together do we learn that George has a considerable gambling addiction and is both an alcoholic and a philanderer who did not write any of the letters that Esther received from him. 

General Information

Auditions for MCLA Theatre productions are open to all MCLA students. Theatre Program students are encouraged to audition for these productions each semester, as well as attend production interviews. Students who audition and are cast in these shows must register for 3 credits of THEA 379 Theatre Production.

For students interested in working on Theatre Program shows in a production capacity, production interviews will take place at the beginning of the Spring semester. If you plan on being involved in this capacity, please register for THEA 379 Theatre Production - Company during your enrollment time. We are looking to cover all positions in the production process. Even if you feel you don’t have enough experience or knowledge in technical production, there is still a place for you!

The Theatre Program is committed to inclusive casting which promotes diversity in the casting of roles where race, ethnicity, gender, age, and the presence or absence of a disability is not essential to the development of the play or characters. All students are encouraged to audition. Theatre Program students are not given preference in casting decisions.

The audition process is part of the students’ theatre training, and all best efforts will be made to inform students of the director’s process, and to encourage them to maximize their preparation and participation. The aim of casting is to select the most able student for a particular role, while also taking into consideration the relevance of the nature of the role to the student’s continuing development as an actor.

Guest artist actors are occasionally used in some roles and are always pre-cast. Guest artist actors enhance the training process by providing professional level models for students to learn from through observation. Pre-casting of students in roles will not occur.


If interested in auditioning, click here to register: MCLA Theatre Audition Registration Form

Once registered, we will tell you more about audition requirements, expectations if cast, and related course information.

Day of Auditions. Arrive at the venue at least 15 minutes prior to the scheduled audition time to check in with the monitor.

Clothing. For group auditions, come dressed in clothing appropriate for participating in physical activity.

NOTE. All auditions are private. During initial auditions, performers are brought into the audition room together. Other guests or parents are not allowed. We find that students do their best and most honest work when others are not watching. In the room will be the director and acting faculty, as well as any student stage managers and assistant directors that are involved in the project.

Questions? Need access to scripts for preparation? 

Contact: Laura Standley