Do you like foreign accents?

Do you like listening to foreign accents? Ever wanted to try learning one? The Department of Theatre is producing a play that offers students an opportunity to dig into the process of learning accents. Auditions for the play are happening early next week. But if you are interested in knowing more, please read on. We’ve put together information from the director, including resources you can explore at your desk. If what you read entices you to investigate, do yourself a favor and get to the Department of Theatre area on Zoellner to meet the program coordinator, Deb Laub. She’s brilliant with helping students navigate their audition experience.

The play is TOP GIRLS, by Caryl Churchill. The play will be directed by Professor Augustine Ripa, who is available for questions via email:

Performance dates are November 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12 @ 8:00 pm.  November 6 @ 2:00 pm, 2011. Please note that auditions are in less than 5 days.

OPEN CALLS (that means ALL students are invited to audition) September 12 & 13, 2011. You need to sign up for a 10-minute time slot on the Sheet posted on the  call board opposite Zoellner 315 and take a copy of TOP GIRLS AUDITION TEXTS from the sign up area or the theatre office. (This is why you need to see Deb Laub during her office hours; best before 4PM)

First call auditions will consist of a reading of two monologues from the audition pages. We’ve included some of the readings down below – but be sure to connect with Deb – we can’t stress this enough.

After the Open Call, you may be invited to a CALLBACKS September 14, 2011 Keep your schedule clear to allow the process.

If you are assigned a role, know that rehearsals begin in October, with accent/character work beforehand.

So what’s the play about? It is London, 1980.  Marlene has just secured a big promotion at the Top Girls Employment Agency.  To celebrate, she hosts a dinner party at a restaurant for distinguished women—historical and fictional—from all ages past.  As they eat and drink on, they share experiences of life as a woman in their respective times and circumstances.  After the party, we experience the workings of the employment agency and Marlene’s legacy, learning much about the decisions and sacrifices that face her and the women in her world. 

CAST OF CHARACTERS – Seven Lehigh women will play 16 female characters, including:

Pope Joan—legendary medieval female pope!
Isabella Bird—famed 19th Century English traveler
Lady Nijo—late 13th Century Japanese royal concubine and eventual Buddhist nun
Dell Gret—from the Breughel painting, who makes war on Hell
Griselda—from Chaucer’s The Clerk’s Tale, a most patient soul


Marlene—our promoted protagonist
Joyce—her estranged sister
Angie—who Joyce raises as her daughter but who is Marlene’s daughter
Kit—Angie’s young friend; she is 12.
Other women of the office and job seekers…

More information about AUDITIONS with ACCENTS

The Department of Theatre does not expect proficiency at auditions—they look for the potential to learn and work in various sounds vocally.  The play requires a variety of accents—various English sounds depending on geography and social class, as well as Lady Nijo’s Japanese and Pope Joan, Griselda, and Gret’s continental sound.  See the special accent reading instructions posted near the sign-up sheet. And also, see below from some inspiration


Ask Deborah Laub in the theatre office (ZAC 301) to add you to the TOP GIRLS CourseSite for excellent information about links for accents, characters, and the entire context of this complex and wonderful play!



QUESTIONS?  ASK THE DIRECTOR~ Professor Augustine Ripa

For the auditions:  please be prepared to present two of the following sections of text – the Modern British accent and your choice of one of the other accents listed below. 

For samples of these accents, go to and find the corresponding file.
Please note – This blogger has taken the time to link each of the corresponding files for you. We hope to save you a few steps…. yet, you might be interested in selecting through the archive of accents – it’s quite fascinating.

Modern British Accent – Marlene, I-2 see IDEA – England – London – seventy-two

“You haven’t got the speeds anyway.  So I’ll send you to these two shall I?  You haven’t been to any other agency?  Just so we don’t get crossed wires.  Now Jeanine I want you to get one of these jobs, all right?  If I send you that means I’m putting myself on the line for you.  Your presentation’s OK, you look fine, just be confident and go in there convinced that this is the best job for you and you’re the best person for the job.  If you don’t believe it they won’t believe it. “

And one of the following:

Suffolk/East Anglia – Joyce, I-3 see IDEA England – East – seventy-seven

“I didn’t like it.  And look at me.  If your face fits at school it’s going to fit other places too. It wouldn’t make no difference to Angie.  She’s not going to get a job when jobs are hard to get.  I’d be sorry for anyone in charge of her.  She’s better get married.  I don’t know who’d have her, mind.  She’s one of those girls might never leave home.  What do you want to be when you grow up, Kit?

RP – Isabella Bird, I-1 see IDEA – England – Received Pronunciation – sixty-three

“I tried to be a clergyman’s daughter.  Needlework, music, charitable schemes.  I had a tumour removed from my spine and spent a great deal of time on the sofa.  I studied the metaphysical poets and hymnology.  I thought I enjoyed intellectual pursuits.”

Japanese – Lady Nijo – I-1 see IDEA – Japan – seven

“When your lover dies – One of my lovers died.  The priest Ariake.  I wasn’t a nun, I was still at court, but he was a priest, and when he came to me he dedicated his whole life to hell.  He know that when he died he would fall into one of the three lower realms.  And he died, he did die.”

Germanic – Pope Joan– I-1 see IDEA – Germany – eleven

“I’d quarreled with him over the teaching of John the Scot, who held that our ignorance of God is the same as his ignorance of himself.  He only knows what he creates because he creates everything he knows buy he himself is about being – do you follow?”

Latin – Pope Joan– I-1 This link is a reading of this text: (listen to the entire sound clip, see if you can align the text with it near the end)

qualibus in tnebris vitae quantisque periclis
degitur hoc aevi quodcumquest! None videre
nil aliud sibi natauram latrare, nisi utqui
corpore seiunctus dolor absit, mente fruatur

Swiss/German – Patient Griselda– I-1 see IDEA – Austria – three

“He said that people hated me because I was just one of them.  And now I had a child they were restless.  So he had to get rid of the child to keep them quiet.  But he said he wouldn’t snatch her, I had to agree and obey and give her up.  So when I was feeding her a man came in and took her away. I thought he was going to kill her even before he was out of the room.”

Belgian – Dull Gret– I-1 see IDEA – Belgium – two

“We come into hell through a big mouth.  Hell’s black and red.  It’s like the village where I come from.  There’s a river and a bridge and houses.  There’s places on fire like when the soldiers come.  There’s a big devil sat on a roof with a big hole in his arse and he’s scooping stuff out of it with a big ladle and it’s falling down on us, and it’s money, so a lot of the women stop and get some. But most of us is fighting the devils.