Search is on for a lead actor with experience of stammering.

9 Nov 2021
Photo credit: Top L-R: Tom England, Dorian Simpson, Kerry Lovell Bottom L-R: Katja Quist, James Newton, Jesse Meadows

Bristol Old Vic’s search is on for a lead actor with experience of stammering.

Bristol Old Vic are seeking a young male to play the lead role in the world premiere production of Ross Willis’ Wonder Boy which opens at Bristol Old Vic next spring (5-26 Mar).

The lead character has a stammer and director Sally Cookson’s ambition is to cast someone who is currently experiencing, or has previously lived with, a speech impediment or has close proximity to members of that community.

Bristol Old Vic are opening this casting call out to non-professional actors, to try and reach out to the stammering community and beyond and also to ensure access for performers is as wide as possible.

Director Sally Cookson said:
“Wonder Boy is a story about what it is like to live with a stammer. People who experience stammering are often stigmatised and made to feel their way of communicating is the negative opposite of fluency. We have a duty therefore to see the role of Sonny played by an actor who has experience of stammering, if at all possible. To open up the casting process to welcome those who have historically faced systemic discrimination is our responsibility. We look forward to introducing ‘Sonny’ and the rest of our cast in the new year.”  

Sonny is twelve, struggling with a heightened stammer, crippling grief, and trapped in a crumbling school system.

What use is a boy who can't say his own name?

Who can save him?

A comic book hero of his own creation helps him soar above his grim reality – but words are power and Sonny needs to find his way in a world full of them. When cast in the school production of Hamlet by the Headteacher, he soon finds the real heroes are closer than you think. 

Wonder Boy
 is a dynamic and heartfelt new play exploring the challenges of communication, the joy in friendship and the power of finding your own way of being heard.

The creative team has been working closely with Simon Bailey from the Bristol branch of the charity STAMMA to ensure the character and the potential casting is handled with understanding and in a supportive way. STAMMA supports anyone who stammers in the UK and tackles the stigma, ignorance and discrimination that people who stammer often face.

Must be over 18 with a playing age of 16 years
No matter your level of stammering or vocal tic, we encourage you to apply!
You do not need to still be experiencing blockages with your speech
Family & friends with close connections to the community also welcome
No prior acting experience necessary

If this sounds like you please send a few words about yourself and a recent pic to with the subject “Wonder Boy” & we’ll be in touch with further details. Role will be paid. Deadline: 30 November 2021   

Bristol Old Vic last held an open casting call out for The Red Lion in 2019 which resulted in Bristol-born-and-bred Thomas McGee being cast. Sadly, the production was postponed due to the first lockdown. He will be making his professional stage debut in the returning production in the Studio this spring.

Wonder Boy
 runs at Bristol Old Vic from 5-26 Mar 2022.
Venue: In Theatre
Dates: 5 - 26 Mar 2022
Times: 7.30pm, 2.30pm (Sat mat)
Prices: PWYC from £8 / 25% Friends Discount
Box office: / 0117 987 7877
Ages 12+


Wonder Boy has CaptionedGuaranteed Socially DistancedSignedRelaxed and Audio Described performances.
Integrated captioning for all performances.

Contains themes of self-harm, suicide, parental death, violence. Strong language.

Founded in 1978, STAMMA, the British Stammering Association, is a registered charity. Our mission is to support anyone who stammers in the UK and tackle the stigma, ignorance and discrimination that people who stammer often face so that they can live their life in full and with dignity.

We are people who stammer and people who don't: parents of children who stammer, speech &  language therapists, GPs, teachers, employers, HR professionals and creatives. We provide information, resources and support to those who stammer as well as those close to them such as family, friends, educators, employers and colleagues.
For further information about STAMMA visit

To contact the Bristol representative of STAMMA:
Email Simon Bailey 
Phone: 07941 148266 or visit their Facebook group.

Bristol Old Vic is the longest continuously running theatre in the UK, and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2016. The historic playhouse aims to inspire audiences with its own original productions, both at home and on tour, whilst nurturing the next generation of artists, whether that be through their 350-strong Young Company, their many outreach and education projects or their trailblazing artist development programme, Bristol Ferment.

They use their funding to support experiment and innovation, to allow access to their programme for people who would not otherwise encounter it, or be able to afford it, and to keep their extraordinary heritage alive and animated.

On 24 Sep 2018, Bristol Old Vic completed its 2-year multi-million pound redevelopment project, which transformed its front of house space into a warm and welcoming public building for all of Bristol to enjoy, created a new studio theatre and opened up its unique theatrical heritage to the public for the first time.

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