Our ensemble is made up of some enthusiastic and committed performers in their 20s. Many of them will most likely wind up in the cast of "The Last Unicorn." But there's one character that I'm sure will have to come from outside our ensemble (as well as several others; Chicago area actors keep an eye out for audition notices!): someone that HAS to be much older and more experienced than the other characters with whom he shares the stage: King Haggard.
This character is very special- he doesn't show up until (in our adaptation) act two, but once he appears he dominates. It's a tough role to cast and a tough role to play- here are some passages from the novel in which he's described:
"Where all the hills are lean as knives,
And nothing grows, not leaves nor lives;
Where hearts are sour as boiled beer-
Haggard is the ruler here."
"He is an old man, stingy as late November, who rules over a barren land by the sea. Some say that the land was green and soft once, before Haggard came, but he touched it and it withered. There is a saying among farmers, when they look on a field lost to fire or locusts or the wind: As 'blighted as Haggard's heart.' They say that there are no lights in his castle, and no fires...."
"He walks in Hagsgate at night, not often, but now and then. Many of us have seen him- tall Haggard, gray as driftwood, prowling alone under an iron moon, picking up dropped coins, broken dishes, spoons, stones, handkerchiefs, rings, stepped-on apples; anything, everything, no reason to it."
And from his own lips:
"Now I must be old- at least I have picked many more things up than I had then, and put them all down again. But I always knew that nothing was worth the investment of my heart, because nothing lasts, and I was right, and so I was always old."
Quite a lot for an actor to live up to. To be someone grim and utterly bored with life, yet somehow magnetic: bored but not boring. A tough challenge, but when we have auditions hopefully we'll find the right actor. One idea I had for Haggard is for him to wear a crown made of gray paper, maybe even newsprint- why would someone to whom wealth is meaningless, who takes no pleasure even in power, care about the trappings of royalty?