Kingsley Players were proud to present “Calendar Girls” a play by Tim Firth. It is based on the film, written by by Juliette Towhidi and Tim Firth.
Tim Firth, who lives in Alvanley, wanted the play to be the “most performed show”. With this aim, rights for amateur productions of Calendar Girls were released for 18 months giving drama groups around the country a chance to perform a wonderful play which is both funny and moving. So far Samuel French has received over 520 applications for a licence!
The opportunity to direct this excellent play and be part of the challenge to raise both the profile and money for Leukaemia support, was too good a chance to miss. Whereas I was lucky to receive every support of the Committee it was a concern that because this play was being performed in just about every corner of the country, and so many people had already seen it, would we be able to find an audience. But before we got there could I find 6 suitable ladies prepared to bare all!
As it transpired, both were achieved with ease and I was so lucky to find a cast from the initial auditions. And what a cast. They fitted my vision of the characters so well and it was great to be able to welcome a number of new members to the group who mixed in so well with our regular players. The new ones may have been surprised to hear from me that I did not want any acting or anything like that, I wanted them to become the characters. To let the parts take them over. They did just that and it was a joy to watch them become the people they portrayed and even more thrilling when unprompted a number of the audience made comments like ‘It was just like watching the real people”. This is in a large part thanks to the excellent script by Tim Firth but also credit to our actors.
As to nudity, the committee and KCA agreed we could build the stage and set a week early so that we could have plenty of time to rehearse the difficult ‘nude scene’ and I tried to introduce it gradually to the cast. Before I could get into that ‘Chris’ decided she wanted to take her bra off on the first hill scene which helped the other girls to try their nude parts. After the first run through ‘Celia’ said, in true Celia mode, “I am not an exhibitionist but can’t we do more of this” and from then on it was no holds barred. And as Tim said, its like a fan dance and if anything is seen that should not be seen, then its failure. We just managed to succeed.
As to direction, it was perhaps the easiest play I have ever brought to the stage, thanks to the cast and the script which just seemed to come together by themselves. Thanks everybody.
As usual I was lucky to have a great team supporting me back stage with everything from Production, set build and design, sound and lighting, wardrobe, props and catering.
We should not have worried about the audience numbers. The two dinner nights on Friday and Saturday sold out with in days and steadily the other two nights started to fill up. As the performance dates approached, we decided to risk opening an extra night to cater for the potential extra numbers and it proved to be needed. All four of the original nights sold out and the extra night only had a few places left. its was a record box office.
Members of the cast came up with the idea of our Calendar Girls calendar and we kept this simple with a cast photo on one sheet of A3 paper. The result was we were able to send a donation of £400 to Leukaemia Care
And finally my gift to the cast. I arranged a surprise visit by Tim Firth to the Wednesday rehearsal in the week before we ran and it was a great boost for them all. Tim was really good with them, staying for a cup of tea and a long chat about the play.