“I don’t think there’s anything on this planet that more trumpets life that the sunflower. For me that’s because of the reason behind its name. Not because it looks like the sun but because it follows the sun. During the course of the day, the head tracks the journey of the sun across the sky. A satellite dish for sunshine. Wherever light is, no matter how weak, these flowers will find it. And that’s such an admirable thing. And such a lesson in life.” -John – Calendar Girls
Adapted by Tim Firth from the film of the same name, Calendar Girls is based on the true story of WI members who posed nude for an “alternative” calendar and has since become the fastest selling play in British theatre history.
Middle aged Chris Harper and Annie Clarke are best friends. They spend much of their time at their local chapter of the Women’s Institute (WI), whose motto is “enlightenment, fun, and friendship”. Although they like most of the women at the WI (the friendship part), they find much of what goes on there, especially the monthly presentations, devoid of enlightenment and fun. Equally as banal as last year’s fund-raising calendar, featuring local bridges, is this year’s proposed calendar, local churches.
After Annie’s husband John passes away from leukemia, Chris wants the WI to provide a memorial in his memory: a new sofa for the family room at the hospital. Chris proposes to raise the money by changing the fund-raising calendar to one featuring tasteful photographs of nude WI members.
Annie likes the idea as it is analogous to one of horticultural-loving John’s last statements where he said that “the flowers of Yorkshire are like the women of Yorkshire”, and “the last phase of the women of Yorkshire is always the most glorious”
The women, who are eminently respectable and of a certain age, overcome their initial reserve, and drop their dressing gowns. Their modesty is artfully spared only in that each woman is posing behind a different task that the Women’s Institute teaches their members, such as making bread rolls, knitting, planting flowers, and playing the piano.
Puzzling their husbands, mortifying their children and riding the wrath of the outraged WI, the Calendar Girls spark a global phenomenon and enjoy tremendous success. But as media interest snowballs, the women find themselves exposed in ways they’d never expected, revealing more than they’d ever planned.
A note about nudity:
Our Calendar Girls will strip down under the cover of props and other actors. Nothing will be seen, unless we’ve failed. If we do it right, the choreography will be best described as ‘fabulous concealment’ .. and we intend to do it right.