OXFORD author Philip Pullman is urging young actors to audition for a part in a stage production of his hugely popular children’s fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials.

Birmingham Repertory Theatre and West Yorkshire Playhouse are performing their two-part production of the trilogy at Oxford Playhouse between Wednesday, April 29, and Sunday, May 3.

But the cast is not complete.

On Sunday, April 5, the Playhouse is hosting auditions to give youngsters the chance to tread the boards with the touring company.

Playhouse spokesman Kayleigh Hellin said: “We’re looking for eight actors, five girls and three boys, to join the professional cast.

“It’s a fantastic chance for young performers to experience and participate in a magical production.”

Children must be aged between 16 and 18 and available for all rehearsal and performance dates.

Ms Hellin said: “The young company will play the roles of children and so need to be no taller than 5’7’’— and ideally look young for their age.”

Last night, Philip Pullman, who lives in Oxford, encouraged teenagers to try their luck.

He said: “It will be fun. Try it out.”

Mr Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy consists of Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass.

Adapted by Nicholas Wright, the two-part stage version of the world-renowned trilogy premiered at the National Theatre in 2004.

Mr Pullman said he remembered the original production.

He said: “I saw the script at various stages and attended some of the rehearsals and made a few, what I hope were, helpful suggestions. It was a very big production with an enormous cast. It was great fun.

“I haven’t seen the new production yet, but I’m looking forward to seeing a rehearsal next week.”

Final rehearsals for the production at the Playhouse take place on Thursday, April 23, and Tuesday, April 28.

The show dates are Part 1: Wednesday, April 29, at 7pm; Part 2: Friday, May 1, at 7pm; Part 1: Thursday, April 30, at 2pm; Part 2: Thursday, April 30, at 7pm; Part 1: Saturday, May 2, at 2pm; Part 2: Saturday, May 2, at 7pm; Part 1: Sunday, May 3, at 2pm; Part 2: Sunday, May 3, at 7pm.

Ms Hellin said: “Tickets are sold in pairs with some performances taking place over a couple of days or, for the brave, on the same day.”

l Oxford’s New Theatre is holding open auditions for its summer prod-uction of the Wizard of Oz on Saturday for anyone aged eight to 18.

Auditions start at 9am for people with surnames beginning with letters between A and L and 1pm for those beginning with letters between M and Z.

For an application form and information visit www.newtheatreoxford.org.uk and click on Stage Experience.