Audition Notice: The Chalk Garden by Enid Bagnold

Audition – Weds 5th July 7.30 for 7.45 at the Oakwood
Performance dates – 21st to 25th November
Rehearsals start – round about 2nd October


The Chalk Garden is a favourite play of mine, outstanding and memorable, I had the enormous pleasure of directing it at the Mill at Sonning, and at its mention my wife and I started quoting lines – and that was nearly thirty years ago!  Despite being quintessentially English, it opened first on Broadway in 1955, then the West End, and indeed Angela Lansbury was due to star in it this year, but pulled out (mind you, she is 91!) Instead, she is leading a benefit reading next Monday.

In 1988, pre- web, I didn’t know that the playwright, Enid Bagnold, was actually Lady Jones, the great grandmother of Samantha Cameron, and lived in a large house in Rottingdean, the garden of which was the inspiration for the play.

The play concerns itself with an old, overpowering, ex-hostess of London society, who gardens (unsuccessfully) and has the care of her troubled granddaughter Laurel, helped by a manservant of singular character.  Into this household comes Miss Madrigal, as governess (the only applicant left!) who doesn’t speak of her past, but has an instinctive understanding of the child and the garden, Laurel’s mother, Olivia, and a High Court Judge.  The language has unforgettable wit and cadence, it is of another age, and yet was a massive hit in the ‘Angry Young Men’ era of 1955.

The characters are:

Miss Madrigal (the first applicant) – an enigmatic, contained woman, passionate but with her fire banked down well  (40 to50)


Maitland (the manservant) – likes to serve, to make a stylish impression, and to be included, hates being ordered around inconsiderately (40 to 55)


Second Applicant # – a little lady, twitchy and nervous, like a bird across a lawn (40 to50)


Laurel- the granddaughter, intelligent, undisciplined, spoilt, witty, has Maitland round her little finger (16)


Third Applicant # - a blowsy lady, dismissive of the house and situation, just came to have a nose (40 to50)


Mrs. St Maugham - overpowering, old, witty, curious, a product of a bygone era, loves the unusual and quirky (70)


Nurse #– a hospital nurse, hired to care for Pinkbell, the old butler, upstairs, but now voices his criticism 30 to 50)


Olivia # – Laurels Mother – comes with her courage gathered to (at last) take Laurel, her daughter, away with her (40ish)


The Judge – a patrician, stern sounding but twinkling-eyed old boyfriend (we suppose) of Mrs St M (70)


Ages are, as ever flexible

#For casting and to add interest, the 2nd and 3rd Applicants can double as the Nurse and Olivia


Any queries, please contact 07788 695840 or         

Thanks, Steve

via TicketSource

07939 210121

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