by Michael Gow


“It’s not an answer to everything, it’s only a question and that means it’s a beginning.”

For middle-aged, gay theatre director Will Drummond, nothing is certain any more. His parents are suddenly old, his professional world is changing, everyone around him seems to be losing faith and losing the plot, and it feels as if society has lost its soul.

Christmas is often a difficult time for families to navigate and for Will, this year, it will become a time of reckoning and a journey of discovery towards a deeper, if not especially comfortable, awareness of himself.

This sprawling saga covers four decades, across two hemispheres, from intimate encounters to vast historical events, investigating the bond between mother and child, the loss of innocence, and the inevitability of death.

It is a powerful, angry, profoundly moving, viciously funny, brilliant play about the possibilities of life and of theatre, and a classic of contemporary Australian dramatic writing.

“Emotionally confronting but also warm and witty … a beautifully written play” Brisbane Courier-Mail

Director Patrick Howard
Production Designer Victor Kalka
Lighting Design TBC
Sound Designer Ryan Devlin
Dialect Coach TBC
Assistant Director Trudy Ritchie
Production Manager TBC
Stage Manager TBC

19 March – 13 April 2019

Rehearsals will commence in early February, and will be scheduled based on actors’ availabilities across weeknights and weekend daytimes.

Wednesday 16 January 6pm – 9pm
Saturday 19 January 10am – 5pm
Monday 21 January 6pm – 9pm

A note on casting: There are 20 speaking roles in Once in Royal David’s City. It is possible to cast the production with 8 actors with doubling, but this production may have a slightly larger cast with a small ensemble taking on some of the smaller speaking roles, remaining present on stage throughout the entire performance. All actors cast will take part in choral singing in the production, and actors of any religion, ethnicity or cultural background are encouraged to apply.
Late 30s – 40s. A middle-aged, gay theatre director. His father has just died, he’s walked away mid-rehearsal while directing a show, and his mother is sick. Very sick. He’s trying to pull together the perfect Christmas, make sense of how his life has come to this crucial and difficult place, and work out where to go from here. Will has long passages of text delivered directly to the audience, and is the central character in every scene. No doubling.
60s – 70s. Will’s mother. She is a strong and fiercely independent woman, who is very worn down after recently losing her husband to a long, ugly battle with cancer. She loves Will very much, and has always wished he would become a teacher. She discovers she is very, very ill and nearing the end of her life. Jeannie spends a significant amount of time on stage asleep in a hospital bed. No doubling.
60s – 70s. Jeannie’s very good friend, well-known to Will and the family. A warm woman quick with advice and a cup of tea. Will calls Molly for advice about his mother, and for her to join him in the hospital when things become particularly dire. Potentially doubles as Miss Prism and/or Grandmother in Airport.
20s – 40s. A regular fixture at the hospital, her mother is on the same ward as Jeannie in some state of mental deterioration, and has been there a while. Gail speaks to Jeannie out of the stage action when Will isn’t around, and Will initially thinks she is a nurse. She tries to be a support for Will and Jeannie, knowing what they’re going through. Potentially doubles as Lady Bracknell.
30s – 60s. Another regular fixture at the hospital, Wally is a salt-of-the-earth, non-denominational man of God, who also visits with Jeannie out of the stage action when Will isn’t around. He tries to help a stubborn Will find some faith and hope in his dire situation, and ultimately is there to comfort him at its tragic end. Potentially doubles as Bill (Will’s father) and/or Border Guard.
30s – 50s. The doctor at the hospital treating Jeannie. His dialogue is written with an accent; he is an immigrant from Eastern Europe, and has a Christian Orthodox faith. Andrei is run off his feet over Christmas in the hospital, and while understanding and with good bedside manner, he is direct and errs on clinical. Potentially doubles as Grandson in Airport and/or Other Actor in Rehearsal Room.
30s – early 40s. Went to university with Will and fondly remembers his student productions. She teaches drama at a private Church school and is struggling to have her students engage with studying Brecht. She meets with Will and asks him to come and guest lecture for her students, partly to help her, partly to help him. Potentially doubles as Speech Therapist and/or Young German Woman.
Late teens – 20s. Encounters Will in a park near the hospital on Christmas Day while skating on the board he got for Christmas. His family life is very difficult, and he’s skating to escape a particularly quarrelsome Christmas morning. He senses a connection with Will, and keeps him company for a short while. Doubles as Young German Man and should have a strong singing voice.

It is essential that you read the script before submitting an Expression of Interest
To request a perusal copy of the script, please contact

To book an audition, email your EOI to with AUDITION in the subject line

Please include:
• an up-to-date headshot and cv
• state if you are currently a New Theatre member

If you are interested in being involved as Lighting Designer, Production Manager, Stage Manager or ASM, please submit your EOI to with PRODUCTION TEAM in the subject line

Please prepare a short, contemporary monologue that you feel complements Once in Royal David’s City. Please bring a hard copy of your chosen monologue along to your audition.

Please also prepare to sing the first verse of the Christmas Carol Once in Royal David’s City acapella in any key that suits you. We will email you the sheet music, lyrics and a link to listen to some performances of the carol on YouTube once we confirm your audition.

You may also be asked to do a cold-read from the play for the character(s) you’re interested in.

New Theatre is a volunteer-based organisation and there is no payment for this production.

Patrick is a freelance theatre artist with a passion for queer, political, devised, musical and documentary theatre. Since graduating from AIM Dramatic Arts (formerly AADA) in 2014, he has performed, directed, production, company and stage managed, sound designed and dramaturged for a number of different companies, as well as produced his own work, and conducted various teaching and mentoring engagements.

Patrick is a founding member and co-director of theatre collective Arrive. Devise. Repeat., has been a play assessor for New Theatre for the past four years, holds a Bachelor of Music with Honours from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, and is a proud member of MEAA Equity.

For New Theatre: 5 Guys Chillin’ (Director); Marat/Sade (Polpoch), Mother Clap’s Molly House (Orme/Josh); That Eye, The SkyWhen the Rain Stops Falling (Stage Manager).

Notable Production Credits: Playlist, Tribunal, Team Australia (PYT Fairfield); Jump First, Ask Later (PYT Fairfield & Force Majeure); Gypsy (Hayes Theatre Co); Grace Under Pressure (Seymour Centre); Urza and the Song in the DarkDark dell’ArteThe Monstrosities (Matriark Theatre); Business Unfinished (Tom Christophersen Creates); Blonde Poison (Strange Duck Productions); Babes in the Woods, Low Level PanicThe WhaleMasterclass 2Debris (Red Line Productions); Blink (Stories Like These).

Performance Credits Include: Merrily We Roll Along (Little Triangle); Brothers Karamazov, GötterdämmerungTender Indifference (Arrive. Devise. Repeat.); Sweating the FoundationsCan Host: An Adult Sleepover (Performance Space); Blackrock (Pilgrim Theatre); Eat Mea casualty of birthHer Naked Skin, ElektraAftershocksSmash & GrabUnder Milk Wood (AIM Dramatic Arts); AssassinsInto the WoodsSweeney ToddThe Mystery of Edwin Drood (MUSE).