Audition Call


subtlenuance is proud to announce their first production of their 2020 season:

Life is Impossible by Paul Gilchrist


We are seeking: 

1 actor (stage age 20 - 30, character name Elaine)

1 actor (stage age early 30's, character name Simone)

1 actor (stage age 40 - 65, character name Michael)

The Play


In 2010, subtlenuance first produced Life is Impossible by Paul Gilchrist at the Newtown Theatre. It was a risk; new Australian work set in an unlikely of place – New York in 1942. To say we were nervous before opening is an understatement. But thanks to a wonderful team, the play was well received.


"a profound piece of theatre that explores the human psyche whilst simultaneously questioning it… 

Life is Impossible deserves a tip of the hat to subtlenuance’s efforts, talent and integrity. It's an enjoyable show, with thought-provoking one-liners spotted with songs, a touch of dance and all-round bittersweet intrigue. Make sure you see this entertaining production" 

[small] LUSTS


"Life Is Impossible is a credit to the ability of Paul Gilchrist”

Aussie Theatre


"The playwright effectively directs the play himself, and wins good performances from his cast…  a darker kind of theatre with a strong philosophical and political bent"  

Sydney Arts Guide


 "It’s pretty meta… with kissing and philosophy and a bunch of people who burst into song…

the writing is sharp and the performances solid"

The Drum Media



And here’s the marketing blurb we used:


It is 1942.

The world is at war.

But Elaine is in New York for the first time.

She’s in love with the skyline, the fashion, the musicals, and Tom.

The conflict seems so far away – until she meets Simone, a French Jewish refugee with a terrible secret.

Based on the true story of one of the most controversial women of the twentieth century.



And here's some more about the story

In Life is Impossible, two very different women take on twentieth century power structures.


Elaine is a young Australian woman, seconded to the staff of the British Ambassador to the USA. Abroad for the first time, Elaine could be just another innocent dazzled and then ultimately daunted by a world much larger than her previous experience. But as we learn, Elaine is a surprise package. Despite her lack of sophistication, she has an almost visionary capacity to imagine, a capacity which her opponents will call flights of fancy, but which her admirers will find engenders hope, and the possibility of a new world order based, not on might and power, but on justice and universal human rights.


Elaine is rooming with Simone, a Jew who has fled the persecution in Europe. Simone is the only actual historical character in the piece. Very loosely based on Simone Weil, the French intellectual, she is a radical and a troublemaker. (A contemporary of Simone De Beauvoir, they met at university.  De Beauvoir’s description of the meeting gives a real sense of the woman: “She [Weil] intrigued me because of her great reputation for intelligence and her bizarre get up…..A great famine had broken out in China and I was told that when she heard the news she had wept; these tears compelled my respect much more than her gifts as a philosopher. I envied her for having a heart that could beat right across the world. I managed to get near her one day. I don’t know how the conversation started; she declared in no uncertain terms that only one thing mattered in the world today: the revolution that would feed all the starving people of the earth. I retorted that the problem was not to make men happy, but to find the reason for their existence. She looked me up and down. ‘It’s easy to see you’ve never gone hungry,’ she snapped. Our relationship did not go any further.”)


The Simone we meet in Life is Impossible is this woman, but now 32. Fifteen years on, she is sharper and only a little less prickly - but still with “a heart that could beat right across the world”. Simone’s friendship with Elaine is one of extraordinary opposites. It is a fortuitous meeting, but not without enormous tension. They share a vision of a just world, but disagree on strategy. Elaine believes it is time to dream, to plan and to prepare. Simone has little patience with imagination. She desperately wants to be granted the right to return to Europe so she can take part in the war effort. She feels trapped in New York, in a position of intolerable privilege compared with the millions suffering abroad. Her current life has become morally impossible - hence the title of the play. She must have direct contact with the fighting, either by joining the French Resistance or personally leading a troop of front line nurses. Elaine admires Simone’s bravery, but her more robust mental health leads her to suspect that a dreadful worm has found its way into Simone’s “world heart”. She is deeply ambivalent about Simone’s attitude - torn between supporting a woman so dedicated to justice and troubled by what she sees as self-destructive tendencies.

Michael, British Consul in New York, is urbane, intelligent, and an arch manipulator.



The Writer/Director

Paul is the artistic director of subtlenuance. 

Paul has written and directed over a dozen plays, including:

One Way Mirror (Blood Moon Theatre, 2018); Shut Up And Drive (with Daniela Giorgi) (Kings Cross Theatre, 2016); All the Difference (Old 505 Theatre, 2015); Joan Again (Old Fitzroy Theatre, 2014); Cristina in the Cupboard (TAP, 2013);  Blind Tasting (Old 505 Theatre, Ensemble, The Street Theatre Canberra, CAP Theatre Los Angeles 2012/2013); Toy Box (TAP, 2011); A Thing of Beauty (Old Fitzroy Theatre, 2010); and Catherine at Avignon (TAP, 2009). 

Plays he has directed include: Talc by Daniela Giorgi (TAP, 2010); A Quiet Night in Rangoon by Katie Pollock (New Theatre, 2011); Losing You (Twice) by Kate O'Keeffe (Newtown Theatre, 2017); TickTickBoom by Melissa Lee Speyer (Actors Pulse, 2018); and Seed Bomb by Daniela Giorgi (Old 505 Theatre, 2019). He has also directed the multi-playwright projects The Political Hearts of Children (TAP, 2013); High Windows Low Doorways (TAP, 2014); and And Now To Bed (The Bordello Theatre, 2015). 


Praise for Paul Gilchrist's work:


“it doesn’t get a whole lot better than written, and directed, by Paul Gilchrist” 

Australian Stage Online, A Thing of Beauty


“drenched in an exceptional ability to observe human behavior and thought. …..This play could be staged anywhere in the world and it will resonate with the audience.” 

Ticket Stubbies, Toy Box

“one of those little treasures of a play that fills your glass with optimism, spills a bit with the laughs, and finds truth” 

Canberra Times, Blind Tasting


“A triumph of narrative construction….Like Stoppard, Gilchrist is great with words… a significant achievement in writing, direction and staging… obviously a playwright worth watching.” 

Media Culture, Catherine at Avignon


‘So cleverly interwoven with perceptive questioning is his writing that you begin to feel as though Gilchrist’s understanding of the human psyche is on a different, more-in-tuned level.” 

The Blurb, Two Gates




The Company 

subtlenuance is dedicated solely to the production of original work.

Since our inception in 2008 we have produced 25 new works, in Sydney, interstate and overseas.


“a small, fiercely independent company of proven integrity… [their work] augurs well, not only for subtlenuance’s future as a distinctive, important, independent voice in Australian theatre, but for the future of Australian theatre at large.” 

Australian Stage Online 

"subtlenuance is one of Sydney's most vital, active, prolific and innovative small production companies" 


“subtlenuance is one of Sydney’s most enduring and entertaining theatre companies"

 Sydney Arts Guide


Have a look around our website and see what we’ve been up to!



The Cast


The play is a one-act 4-hand ensemble piece.

We are looking to cast:

Elaine; stage age 20 - 30

Simone; stage age early 30's

Michael; stage age 40 - 65

We look to present a cast that reflects the diversity of this city.



Things you'll need to know 

  • The play will be produced at the Old 505 Theatre, Newtown.

  • Bump in is Feb 17 and bump out Feb 23, 2020.

  • Our first  production will be held before the summer holiday break this year, and then rehearsals will begin mid-Jan, 2020. The rehearsal timetable will be determined by the availability of the team. 

  • The production will be run on a profit share basis.

  • Auditions will be held on Thurs 5 and Fri 6 Dec 2019 at a venue TBA.

  • Successful applicants will be allotted a twenty minute slot. The audition will consist of a prepared reading of small sections of the script. 

And just a reminder:
Auditions slots won't be allocated on a first-in-first served basis.

Unfortunately, due to limited resources, we'll only be able to see a limited number of actors.

We wish it was different!


Photo credit RetroAtelier

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