top of page



The Book of Will 

by Lauren Gunderson

Directed by Noelle Fair 

Dramaturgy by Jon Ciccarelli 

Produced in conjunction with the Stratford Library honoring the 400th year anniversary of the printing of Shakespeare's First Folio

Audition Location: Stratford Library, Lovell Room, 2203 Main Street in Stratford, CT 

Audition Dates: February 8th and 9th, 6 - 8pm

Please arrive a little earlier in order to fill out a contact form

Performance Dates:  April 21st, 7pm

Saturday April 22nd, 2pm 

Sunday April 23rd, 2pm

Performances will occur at Stratford Library in the Lovell room

Rehearsals: Run from March 12th - April 20th, and occur about 3 times a week on rotating weeknights and Sundays.  The directing team will be as flexible as possible when dealing with scheduling conflicts.  However, please be aware that this is largely an ensemble piece with several group scenes. Most actors will be needed during a majority of rehearsals.  



William Shakespeare’s been dead for three years. His friends and fellow actors miss him and his beautiful plays. When a pirated, badly botched Hamlet (“To be or not to be, there’s the point…”), they realize Shakespeare’s lines are disappearing into the forgetful memory of time. They need a book—a definitive copy of his original plays, but to make one, they have to battle an unscrupulous publisher, a boozy poet, and their own mortality. Lauren Gunderson’s look at Shakespeare’s First Folio is a lively, funny, poignant love letter to theatre and the printed word.

Shakespeare never saved his work. Meet the folks who did.

From the Director: Hello! Thanks for your consideration to join us in crafting an ode to the Bard, the theatre, and the power of the written word! We are looking for a diverse cast of artists to portray one or more characters in this (mostly) historical tale about the creation of Shakespeare’s First Folio. All folks, regardless of age, race, gender or experience are invited to audition for the roles they are interested in portraying.

Style of the play: Though firmly set in the early 17th century, this play should NOT be thought of as a period piece. This is a CONTEMPORARY play that happens to be set in Jacobaean England. Gunderson’s text is colloquial and therefore, there is no need for grand recreations of Elizabethan/Jacobean performances (except for the brief, actual stage performances in the script). Bring yourselves to the audition and the text. Who are you today? How do you relate to the desire to ensure a legacy?

Looking for 9 - 10 actors of various ages, genders, races, and abilities who are willing to play multiple roles

Actor 1: (Male, 40's - 50's)

Henry Condell: Feisty and hopeful. Shakespeare’s friend, and actor in the King’s Men.

Actor 2: (Male, 40's - 50's)

John Heminges: Reasonable and serious,Shakespeare’s friend, and financial manager of the King’s Men. He is a good man, a gentleman, and owner of the Globe Tap House.

Actor 3, Male 50's - 60's: (plays Burbage, William Jaggard, and Horatio)

Richard Burbage:A seasoned lion of the stage, loud and proud, and famous across England.

William Jaggard:  Successful if shady publisher of books, plays, and playbills, William is confident in his ability to get what he wants. He is very experienced, very connected, willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done, but an ass.

Horatio, an actor playing this role

Actor 4, Female late 30's - 50's: (plays Elizabeth, Emilia and Fruit Seller) 

Elizabeth Condell:  Savvy and fun, Elizabeth is Condell’s wife.

Emilia Bassano Lanier:  A fiery Italian feminist and poet, an independent woman, and a lover of life (and of Shakespeare). 

Fruit Seller

Actor 5, Female, 40's - 50's: (plays Rebecca, Anne Hathaway, and Marcellus) 

Rebecca Heminges: John’s wife, Rebecca is strong, busy with their grocery business, and a woman who has weathered much but loves her husband, and her sons. She is a good wife.

Anne Hathaway Shakespeare: Shakespeare’s now ailing wife. Anne is strong-willed, a classy lady, a survivor.

Marcellus, an actor playing this role.

Actor 6, Any gender and age: (plays Ralph Crane, Barman, Compositor and Francisco)

Ralph Crane:  Humble scrivener of the King’s Men, Ralph is quick, sure, and quiet.

Compositor, of the Folio

Barman, drunk ruffian

Francisco, an actor playing this role

Actor 7 Female, 20's - 30's: (plays Alice and Susannah) 

Alice Heminges: John’s daughter and alewife, knows everyone, and hangs with the boys.

Susannah Shakespeare: A good girl and daughter of Shakespeare, 

Actor 8, Male, 20's - 30's: (plays Issac and Ed Knight) 

Ed Knight:  “Stage manager” for the King’s Men, Ed is self-serious and particular.

Isaac Jaggard:  William’s son, Isaac will inherit the business. He is sensitive, an artist at heart.

Actor 9, Any gender teen to 20’s: (plays Marcus, Crier, Boy Hamlet, Bernardo)

Marcus:  Printer’s apprentice at the Jaggard print shop, nosy but honest.

Boy Hamlet: A young actor.

Crier: A newsboy.

Bernardo, an actor playing this role

Actor 10, Male, 40's - 50's: (plays Ben Johnson, Barman 2, Sir Edward Dering)

Sir Edward Dering: (any gender, 50-60's) A book and theatre lover, Edward is the first customer of The First Folio.

Ben Jonson: (male, 30's - early 40's) Poet laureate of England and friend/rival of Shakespeare, Ben is an amazing drunk, a bear of a man, and surprisingly weepy.

Barman 2, drunk ruffian

Format of Auditions

Auditions will consists of reading sides from the play.  Copies of sides (scenes) will be provided at the audition, but there are pdf versions of them below if you would like to take a look at them ahead of time.  Not all roles will have sides so please pick the side closest to the characters you wish to portray (again, casting may assign you to a “track” with multiple roles). Feel free to read for as many roles as you like. You may be asked to cold-read material on the audition day. Please stay at the audition until you have been dismissed.

Once again, thank you for your interest in this production. 

If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to email the company at

There is no need to submit any materials beforehand (unless you would like to).


Click on the red links to view the PDF versions of the sides. (You may need to rotate on your computer). 

Alice/Burbage Side: The group of friends have just seen a terrible performance of their friend Shakespeare's "Hamlet" and are frustrated.  They are harassed by 2 drunks and Alice finally has it out.  Burbage shows his ability as a performer.  The actor playing Burbage should be familar with Shakespeare's text. Let's see Alice's tough side.  

Ed Knight/Ralph Crane Side: John and Henry have come to see Ed about remaining Shakespeare scripts.  Ed is self-serious and particular.  He treats Crane badly.  Crane is a humble scrivenger.  Quick and quiet.  This is a great scene to show us your character work.

Ben Johnson/Emilia Bassano Lanier: They both have had contentious relationships with Shakespeare during his lifetime.  John and Henry have arrived at their doorsteps, each to ask a huge favor of them.  Ben is gruff, and has a huge personality.  Emilia is strong-willed, intelligent, rich, and content in her high status.  She should feel more like royalty than anyone else.  (Note: Lanier is pronounced "Laa-nay")

Isaac/Jaggard/Marcus/Compositor Side: Marcus is being his typical annoying self.  Child-like and has bad timing.  This is probably the first time Isaac has attempted to stand up to his father, and Jaggard is being his typical hard-headed self until....he has a redemption moment with his son, and we see a brief shift in their relationship.  

Jaggard/Isaac/Alice/Henry/John:  John and Henry have been looking for a printer, and have come up short.  William Jaggard enters and sweeps up the energy in the room.  (Re-read his character description and bring all of that to this character).  This fires Henry up, and he becomes furious.  There might be chemistry between soft-spoken Isaac and Alice (wink. wink!) 

Rebecca and John: They are a loving married couple.  John is doubting the Folio project and whether doing all of this is worth the trouble.  Rebecca remains steadfast in her encouragement, but also explains why the women of Shakespeare's plays are important to her.  (NOTE: Alice does come in briefly during this scene, but for purposes of the side, I cut her out.)

John and Henry Side: Rebecca, John's wife has died and he is greiving in the yard of the Globe Theatre late at night.  Henry enters to comfort his friend.  This scene demonstrates the deep rooted friendhsip between the two men, and their relationship to the theater.  

John/Henry/Alice Side: Burbage, the great actor has passed away suddenly.  Alice, John and Henry have been up late drinking and mourning.  Suddenly, Henry has a bright idea to create Shakespeare's First Folio.  John is doubtful, Alice is excited about the idea, and by the end they get John on board with the idea.  Let's see Alices fun side, John's serious, practical side, and Henry's fiesty determined side. 



bottom of page