A War of the Worlds
by Penfold Theatre Company

Mar. 22 - Apr. 05 (2020)

A War of the Worlds is the world premiere of a new play by Jarrett King. The production is directed by Matrex Kilgore. Performances run October 8-25, 2020 at the Santa Cruz Theatre. Rehearsals are likely to begin late August or early September.


Playwright and Austin native Jarrett King puts a new spin on the historic broadcast. Alternatingly comic and gripping, A War of the Worlds re-imagines Orson Welles and his radio troupe The Mercury Theatre as a group of African American artists on the brink of failure. In the hope of securing corporate sponsorship, Welles orchestrates a last ditch ratings stunt that causes national panic and secures them an undeniable - if infamous - place in media history. King takes us behind the scenes for the tense hours before the broadcast; for the airing itself, performed live in radiocast format; and for the reckoning with public terror that followed. 


King combines careful historical research and savvy creative license to connect Welles’ Depression Era world with our own – touching on a wide range of topics, including race relations, fake news, the ethics of new media technologies, and "invasion" to name a few – while simultaneously enthralling us with the sci-fi thriller that became an instant cultural icon.

Auditions for A War of the Worlds


For everyone's safety, we are inviting audition submissions by video. Please sign up using the form below. Then email a headshot, resume and audition video to ryan@penfoldtheatre.org no later than Sunday, April 5th. Your video should show you performing a single monologue of less than 2 minutes.


Live callbacks in small groups are tentatively scheduled for Saturday, April 11th, though conflicts and other circumstances will be taken into account.








The role of Orson Welles will be played by Marc Pouhé. All other roles are available. To support the themes in the play, it is important that members of the Mercury Theatre be African American. All roles are paid. Equity and non-Equity actors are encourage to audition.


Orson Welles. The Artistic Director of the Mercury Theatre on the Air.


Canada Lee. A black man in his early forties. Member of the Mercury Theatre. An experienced actor who knows the powers that be are not on their side. 


Wardell Sanders. A black man in his early twenties. Member of the Mercury Theatre. A young actor with something to prove. 


Edna Thomas. A black woman in her late thirties. Member of the Mercury Theatre. A talented actress who has not received the respect her work deserves. 


Ollie Simmons. A black man in his early thirties. Member of the Mercury Theatre. A foley artist who communicates as comfortably with sounds as with words.


John Houseman. A white man in his late thirties. Employed by the station. An ally and admirer of Welles with strong reservations about his friend's plan.


Lois Ballard. A white woman in her mid-twenties. Employed by the station. A capable actress saddled with the station's less desirable script assignments. (Note: this role doubles with Woman, a mother distraught after losing her child.)


Officer Wrigley. A white security guard in his mid-thirties. Employed by the station. Suspicious of the black people coming into his building.


[graphic adapted by CTXLT from www.waroftheworlds.fandom. com