by Tim Firth
Full Length Play, Comedy / 4m, 9f
When Annie's husband John dies of leukaemia, she and best friend Chris resolve to raise money for a new settee in the local hospital waiting room. They manage to persuade four fellow WI members to pose nude with them for an "alternative" calendar, with a little help from hospital porter and amateur photographer Lawrence. The news of the women's charitable venture spreads like wildfire, and hordes of press soon descend on the small village of Knapeley in the Yorkshire Dales. The calendar is a success, but Chris and Annie's friendship is put to the test under the strain of their new-found fame.
- Winner! What's On Stage Award for Best New Comedy 2010
"Calendar Girls, with a script by Tim Firth who also co-wrote the movie, achieves exactly what it sets out to do. It makes you laugh, it makes you cry, and it leaves you feeling better about life than you did when you entered the theatre." - The Telegraph, Read More
"It’s a show full of poignant moments – about friendship, determination and hope; about loss in many forms; about the importance of acceptance; about knowing when to let go. But it also offers plenty of humour, as the six friends and WI members decide to pose nude for a calendar" - Liverpool Daily Post, Read More
"Smash-hit show...hilarious yet touching play." - InformedEDINBURGH.co.uk, Read More
"The play induces a few tears along with the joy and laughter" - The British Theatre Guide, Read More
"Unashamedly sentimental and full of heart and bare-faced cheek, Tim Firth's stage adaptation of his own film script, inspired by the group of Yorkshire WI members who stripped off for a charity calendar to raise money for Leukaemia Research, should rake in a bob or two itself." - The Guardian, Read More
- Mild Adult Themes
- Nudity/Partial Nudity
- Minimum Fee: $100 per performance
- Time Period: Contemporary, Present Day, New Millennium/21st Century
- Duration: 120 minutes (2 hours)
- Setting: Various simple settings.
- Features / Contains: Contemporary Costumes / Street Clothes
ANNIE - 50s. Annie will join in mischief but is at heart more conformist and less confrontational than Chris. After Chris has put a waiter’s back up in the restaurant, Annie will go in and pour calm. The mischievousness Chris elicits saves Annie from being a saint. She has enough edge to be interesting, and enough salt not to be too sweet. Ideal car — who cares, as long as it’s reliable. Ideal holiday — walking in English countryside.
CORA - around 40. Cora’s past is the most eclectic, her horizons broadened by having gone to college. This caused a tectonic shift with her more parochial parents. She came back to them pregnant and tail-between-legs, but Cora has too much native resilience to be downtrodden. She is the joker in the pack, but never plays the fool. Her wit is deadpan. It raises laughter in others, but rarely in herself. Her relationship with her daughter is more akin to that between Chris and Annie. Cora doesn’t need to sing like a diva but must be able to sing well enough to start the show with Jerusalem and sing the snatches of other songs required. The piano keyboard can be marked up to enable her to play basic chords should she not be a player. Ideal car — who cares, as long as the sound system is loud. Ideal holiday — New York.
JESSIE - late 60s/70s. Get on the right side of Jessie as a teacher and she’ll be the teacher you remember for life. Get on the wrong side and you will regret every waking hour. A lover of life, Jessie doesn’t bother with cosmetics — her elixir of life is bravery. Jessie goes on rollercoasters. Her husband has been with her a long time and is rarely surprised by her actions. Jessie bothers about grammar and will correct stallholders regarding their abuse of the apostrophe “s”. Ideal car — strange-looking European thing which is no longer manufactured. Ideal holiday — walking in Switzerland or Angkor Wat.
CELIA - age anything 35-50. The fact that Celia is in the WI is the greatest justification of its existence. A woman more at home in a department store than a church hall, she may be slightly younger than Chris or the same age, but she always feels like she’s drifted in from another world. Which she has. She is particularly enamoured of Jessie, and despite the fact Jessie has very little time for most Celias of this world, there is a rebelliousness in Celia to which Jessie responds. It’s what sets Celia apart from the vapid materialism of her peer group and made her defect. Ideal car — Porsche, which she has. Ideal holiday — Maldives, where she often goes.
RUTH - 40s. Ruth’s journey is from the false self-confidence of the emotionally abused to the genuine self confidence of the woman happy in her own skin. Ruth is eager to please but not a rag doll, and despite being Marie’s right-hand woman she is desperate to be the cartilage in the spine of the WI and keep everyone happy. She has spine herself — if she was too wet, no-one would want her around. But they do, and they feel protective of her because they sense there is something better in Ruth than her life is letting out. They are proved right. Ideal car — at the start, whatever Eddie wants; at the end, whatever she wants. Ideal holiday — at the start wherever Eddie is, at the end wherever he isn’t. The Rabbit Costume: Ruth made this last night. It should be a cocktail of good intention and not enough time.
MARIE - 50s. Marie has gradually built the current ‘Marie’ around herself over the years as a defence mechanism. She went to her Oz, Cheshire, and found Oz didn’t want her. She came back scorched. The WI is a trophy to her, which justifies her entire existence. There is a lingering part of Marie that would love to be on that calendar. Ideal car — something German and well-valeted. Ideal holiday — a quasi-academic tour of somewhere in Persia advertised in a Sunday Supplement which she could then interminably bang on about.
JOHN - 50s. John is a human sunflower. Not a saint. Not a hero. Just the kind of man you’d want in your car when crossing America. When he dies it feels like someone somewhere turned a light off.
ROD - Chris's husband, 50s. You have to be a certain kind of guy to stick with Chris and Rod loves it. He can give back what he gets, and has a deadpan humour which has always made Chris laugh. He drinks a lot but never so much as to have a problem. He would work every hour to make his shop a success. And John was his mate, even though the relationship was originally channelled through their wives.
LAWRENCE - late 20s. Hesitant without being nerdy, Lawrence is a shy young man with enough wit to make a joke and enough spirit to turn up at the WI hall in the first place. When he arranges the shots he is close to female nudity but sees only the photo.
LADY CRAVENSHIRE - 60s. Lady Cravenshire really doesn’t mean to be so patronizing. But the WI girls seem from another world. The world of her estate workers. Dress: when she makes an entrance, she must make an entrance. Largely white or cream to outplay the others, with a bigger hat than Marie. She is not a tweed-wearer. She must glide in like a galleon.
ELAINE - 20s. Elaine really doesn’t mean to be so patronizing. But Jessie seems from another world. The world of her gran. Dress: her clinical whites slice through like a knife. You feel you could cut yourself on that dress.
LIAM - late 20s. Liam would like to be directing other things than photoshoots for washing powders. He’s not so unprofessional as to let it show, but we can sense a slight weariness at having to deal with these women. There’s a resigned patience to his actions and each smile he makes we feel is professional. For Liam, this photoshoot is a job. And not the job he wanted. Dress: Avoid wearing shades inside a building. If you’ve gone down that route, you’ve made the weary boy a wideboy.
- Strong Role for Leading Woman (Star Vehicle)
- Parts for Senior Actors
Calendar Girls premiered in a UK Tour in 2009 under the direction of Hamish McColl, before transferring to the West End in 2010.