EX-PAT American director Ben Prusiner will be at the helm for York Shakespeare Project's spring production, Cymbeline, inspired by Mark Rylance’s celebrated Twelfth Night at Shakespeare's Globe.

"Spring will be a chance for audiences in York to see two very different productions of 17th century plays back to back: Shakespeare's Cymbeline from March 1 to 3 and York Settlement Community Players in John Webster's The Duchess Of Malfi a week later," says Ben. "They were written about a year apart and both plays deal with men who resort to murder to control women's sexuality."

Prusiner will hold auditions for Cymbeline on December 5 and 6 from 8.30pm to 9.30pm, with afternoon recalls and additional auditions on December 9 from 2pm to 5pm. "Please prepare a short monologue in verse by Shakespeare or one of his contemporaries, preferably memorised," he requests. "Singing, musical ability and stage combat are a plus! All actors must be aged 18 or older by the start of rehearsals in January."

Introducing Shakespeare's 1623 play, Ben says: "Cymbeline is a wild tale of heroic princesses, jealous men, stolen infants and scheming queens. This is one of Shakespeare’s greatest but most under-performed plays, featuring riveting scenes filled with exquisite verse.

"For the first time, York Shakespeare Project will be presenting an ‘original practices’ production in Renaissance dress, in a limited engagement from March 1 to 3, at one of York’s hidden gems, the medieval Merchant Taylors’ Hall.

"In a modern twist on Shakespeare’s all-male company, all roles will be open to actors of all genders, and the audience will see the actors get ‘into role’ on stage, much like Mark Rylance’s production of Twelfth Night. A mix of traditional and non-traditional gender casting will illuminate numerous themes in the play, and actors will be supported throughout the rehearsal process on how to perform their characters’ gender roles."

To book an audition, email yorkshakespeareproject@gmail.com to secure a time, or alternatively to arrange a video audition if none of the above times suit. "We look forward to hearing from you," says Ben.

The New York director and academic is completing a hattrick of productions for YSP, having directed King Lear in 2016 and Henry VIII in 2017. He is the artistic director of York company Re:Verse Theatre and directed the York Mystery Plays Supporters Trust in The Harrowing Of Hell – pneumatic wagon wheels, selfie-stick weapon, prison cell et al – in this year's wagon production of the York Mystery Plays on York's streets.

Charles Hutchinson