We are issuing an open call for five York residents with distinctive voices
This opportunity is open to all, regardless of age and background. You don’t need to have acting experience or be an actor. We're looking for someone who is able to bring these historical characters to life in a way that inspires visitors to Clifford’s Tower. Working with English Heritage's Head Properties Curator Jeremy Ashbee and Interpretation Manager Ruth Haycock, we have selected five characters to represent the story of Clifford’s Tower who will each confide a short monologue (lasting no longer than a pop song). Each story is intended to help evoke something of the landscape around the tower, reference key moments in the tower’s history and give voice to people who lived around it.
In order to audition for a chance to bring these characters to life, please send us an audio recording of you performing one of our character scripts. The excerpts and characters are below or if you'd prefer to print it out, you can download the document here. Once you've chosen who you'd like to audition as, please refer here for how to record and send your recording to us.
DATE: 1069 / NAME: EDID / AGE: 21 / OCCUPATION: Small Holder
FAMILY: two sons, husband deceased ATTITUDE: cross, tired, angry, exasperated and proud
Sounds of wind and rain and the city will play throughout this monologue to create a sense of wilderness or ruin
EDID: I’m cold. I’m hungry. I’m homeless. I’m angry and I’m wet. Two years ago, my husband left me. Went off to fight with Harold, the gormless mester and only went and died at Stamford Bridge. Since then me and the childer have known nothing but misery and suffering.
Before the Conqueror (almost spat out) landed, and kicked his way across the country, we had a lovely life. We had a small farm. A house of stone and timber and blessed with two boys. But that was changed when the Normans get a toe hold in this country and decided to turn my land into a fishpond by building a huge mound with a castle on the top.
Oh before, Jorvik was beautiful. Fields as far as the eye can see with people who believed in the land. We were lucky to have two abundant rivers that made the fields fertile and plentiful. Our elders made sure that all people were treated in a fair manner.
(Angry voices “Death to the Conqueror etc) This Christmas we got the worst present any city could hope for. Our hated King William is sat in the Minster with a crown on his head lording it over all of us. Just last summer the Earl of Northumberland, Gospatric lead a rebellion against William. It worked as well, well it worked for a month or two. Then the Conqueror returned and took back the city, he’s only gone and built a castle right where our home and lands were!
But this won’t last, speak it quietly but rebellion is coming. Gospatric has mobilised the people of York. He’s made an allegiance with King Sven of Sweden and with the Saxons, they’ll crush William here in the North and give us our land back. Just you wait and see.
DATE: 1190 / NAME: ELIAS / AGE: 27 / OCCUPATION: Lincoln Merchant
FAMILY: Deceased Brother and Parents / ATTITUDE: Resigned and regretful. Hurt, distraught
The sound of rain falling.
ELIAS: On the night of Shabaat HaGadol the most holy of Sabbaths, Rabbi Yom Tov made the decision that it would be better for the people to choose the time of their death rather than have it chosen for them by the hateful mob. My people chose a glorious death rather than a shameful life of conversion to Christianity.
(Openly crying now) The men set fire to the castle and in that dreadful inferno the worst possible travesties came to pass.
All husbands killed their wives with Josce leading by example.
My Father killed his wife.
All fathers killed their sons and daughters.
My Father killed my brother and my sisters.
And then fire consumed those remaining with Rabbi Yom Tov killing Josce before being lost to the flames himself.
There can be no righting of this wrong. There is no amount of reparation that can bring back the dead. Let York castle stand forever more as a memorial to those brave souls who died at the hands of cowards.
DATE: 1484 / NAME: EDWARD / AGE: 40 (an old man for those times) / OCCUPATION: Labourer
FAMILY: married with grandchildren / ATTITUDE: humorous – pleased to have work and food on the table.
EDWARD: Times have been good but hard in York this past year. It were York who got Richard the throne, what with him using most of the strong men of hereabouts for his army. 300 men we sent down to him to fight against the Queen mother’s men. I myself would have gone but when the call came I was knee deep in vats of mead, beer and cider – having decided to help a ‘friend’ – and was in no condition to join them. My eldest went though, I think he wanted to get away from his lass who were buint over (pregnant) again. (With pride) Four healthy, bonny lasses she’s born him and all four are any match for the lads that live round ‘ere.
We’ve been having some fun on the castle though. I remember when I were a lad thinking it were a grand old tower and it will be proper something to put it back to how it was. The young’un’s working on ‘ere have only just begun to live and they don’t remember what life were like before the Battle of Towton, they’ve only known life under a Yorkist rule and that means they’ve become daft!
We hear the sounds of the people finishing work for the day, cries of 'ta ra for now' etc. A bell signals the end of the working day. Eventually we’re left with quiet.
I love this place with a love that’s hard to describe. It gets to ya inside, the people and their ways, the weather – god knows the weather - and the stone which gets into your bones. There is no greater city in all of Christendom and beyond and no greater title than to be a man of York. I might not have money, or status or wine or even a roof, sometimes, but I am from York as is the King of all England and as long as he is on the throne, we will have nothing to fear.
NAME: ELEANOR / DATE: 1684 / AGE: 9 / OCCUPATION: Child
FAMILY: daughter of a soldier / ATTITUDE: reported, conversational
ELEANOR: (Whispering furtively, under the blankets style. Sounds of laughter from downstairs.) It’s Thursday 20th April 1684. I’ve been awake for what seems like forever and all I can hear is them laughing downstairs. Them being my Mam and her soldier boyfriend. He’s supposed to be up at the minced pie, you know, Clifford’s Tower, but he’s been sneaking out the last few nights to come and see my mam.
You see, it’s been going on for weeks now. The soldiers up at the castle are a rank bunch of scragends – apart from Mam’s boyfriend that is. He’s alright, likes a drink and a laff and is good to my mam. But the others are all lazy good for nothing wazzocks strutting around the city being all tough and whatnot. The rest of the city have had enough, not a day goes by without someone saying how they would like to blow the Minced Pie to kingdom come. (Pause.) No one does though.
I heard Mam’s boyfriend say that he was going to move in with her. But that doesn’t make any sense ‘cause he’s a soldier and they have to live at the castle. He was laffing earlier to her saying that everyone’s going to have a right surprise.
Laughter increases from downstairs and shrieks can be heard from revelers outside. There is a sense of rowdiness coming from the noises off. People unhappy with each other – neighbourly disputes.
Eleanor: (As before but more urgent.) So, it’s now Saturday and things have got even more silly! Mam’s boyfriend is as ‘appy as a pig in muck – he sometimes smells like one as well! He’s only gone and moved all his stuff into our place! He’s been doing it by night, and I heard him say that he’s not going to stop at the castle for much longer. He threw me in the air when he came in earlier. He was grinning from ear to ear and singing! I mean singing!
NAME: ELIZABETH / DATE: 1856 / AGE: 33
OCCUPATION: Mother of four children and Amateur Historian ATTITUDE: Elizabeth is educated, with a ‘well-spoken’ York accent, conversational, curious, authoritative.
ELIZABETH: York in the sunshine! There truly cannot be a better thing in all of the world. Today I saw a Crampton locomotive steam into the station at York. I have such a sense of pride and thankfulness for the Great Northern Railway for saving my York.
Before the railways arrived, the city was, quite literally, a dung heap. Poor sanitation and a lack of financial investment meant that the poor were living in quite awful conditions although you dassn’t mention that now. The railway was like a breath of fresh air – quite literally. Who would have thought that trains could provide much needed employment for some of the poor?
All of a sudden, dear friends in Nottingham, Sheffield and even London were able to join me for an evening of entertainment at the Theatre Royal. And, everyone who has visited has marveled at our beautiful Clifford’s Tower. Whenever I have a visitor, I make a point of showing them the old castle and every time they are amazed at the eyesore that surrounds it! They can only see a small section of the glorious battlements peeping over the walls of the prison. How, I have dreamt of spending some time within the Tower’s wonderful surrounds and soaking up the history that is contained within the bricks and mortar.
Fortunately, last week, Papa took me to see the rather splendid Charles Dickens at the Festival Concert rooms in town. Here I was introduced to the very impressive William Hincks, a truly wonderful Theologian who has founded the Yorkshire Philosophical Society. I surprised him with my knowledge for History and all things York Castle and, I think, he rather took pity on me, for he said that he knew the Governor of the prison well and could arrange for a private viewing of the tower.