Casting a staged reading of "Refraction of Light." Synopsis: On the day World War II ends, another war begins. Joe Taylor, an African-American veteran decides he wants to marry Nettie French, a childhood sweetheart, and buy the house belonging to Rose Beauchamp, a white teacher who has befriended both Nettie, daughter of Rose’s deceased best friend, and Joe and encouraged their friendship and academic aspirations. Rose’s prejudice rears its head and her reluctance to sell her house to Joe sets in motion a chain of events that threatens to destroy all their futures. Harry Rosen, a Jewish immigrant from Nazi Germany, enters their lives and helps them find their way home.
The setting is the living room of a graceful old home in Berkley, Virginia. A stained glass window made by Nettie’s mother, Lily, as a gift to Rose, is a designer’s delight. Lily combined pieces of glass from baby bottles, eye-glasses, plates, and jewelry to create a symbol of the play’s multi-cultural mix. Through this window, Rose, Nettie, Joe, and Harry find comfort, joy, pain, redemption; and, finally, the reality of their own prejudices.
Rose (Lead): Female, 45-70
A white woman who was raised in Virginia. If she went to church, it was probably the Unitarian. Her family was liberal for that time and place, but she was still subject to the racial Assumptions of her time and place. She considers herself a Liberal and probably somewhat superior to her neighbors. Her best friend for most of her life was Lily French (Nettie’s mother) who did some domestic work for their family but never considered her a maid. Aware of the limitations of education for African-American students, she has taken on students in her home to add to their education. One of them is Joe Taylor. The other is Nettie who actually comes to live with Rose at the beginning of the play.
Nettie (Lead): Female, 18-30
Comes to live with Rose when her mother dies. She is a bit snappy in good way and Rose would like to see her have a career or further education after high school, but she’s in love with Joe Taylor, a returning Vet. Although she has confidence in herself, she has an underlying question about her own value, stemming largely from the early death of her father and his family’s feeling that he married “too dark.” This sometimes keeps her from being as assertive as she might have been and too ready to make life easy for those around her.
ETHNICITY: African American
Joe (Lead): Male, 25-40
Was one of Rose’s students for whom she had the most ambition. He is a World War II Vet who thrived in the war and learned his own value. He expected life to change when he came back to the states. He found that not much has changed. He is proud and generous, but also impulsive. When an idea takes him, he runs with it and doesn’t look back. He is deeply in love with Nettie and has been for some time.
ETHNICITY: All Ethnicities
Harry (Lead): Male, 20-35
The only member of his family who escaped Hitler’s Germany. (Playwright has another play about him later in his life.) He is a kind, gentle, religious young man who is grateful for the roles that these strangers have played in his life. Rose’s house reminds him of his own house in Bremen which brings up painful memories with which he has to begin to face. His role in the play is somewhat archetypal—kind of a Yiddish Yoda but with more emotion and more at stake.
ETHNICITY: All Ethnicities
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Auditions are being held Saturday, March 3rd and callbacks will take place Sunday, March 4th. The reading will take place Thursday, March 15th in Manhattan.