Casting notes – The Chalk Garden

The Nomads will be presenting The Chalk Garden by Enid Bagnold in November 2018, directed by Murray Stephen.

  • Performance dates: 13-17 November 2018 at 7:45pm
  • Rehearsal days: Rehearsals will start in early September; expect two evenings a week – which evenings will depend on availability of the cast, and also rehearsal space at the theatre – and probably 4 Sundays; Likely to be evenings, but am open to discussion if people prefer afternoons

Audition dates:

  • Sunday 12th August – 7.30
  • Tuesday 21st August – 8p.m.

Auditions will be held in the Bob King room at The Nomad Theatre, Bishopsmead Parade, East Horsley, Leatherhead, Surrey KT24 6RT (click here)

Auditions will be run as open readings, where different people can interact, but if anybody feels that they cannot do themselves full justice in such situations, Director Murray will be happy to arrange private sessions. Similarly for anybody who is interested and cannot make those dates.

Contact details:
E: [email protected]
T: 07831 262660

Description of the play:
A troubled teenage girl lives with her eccentric grandmother, Mrs. St. Maugham, in a big house in Sussex, with a Chalk Garden. When a new governess is hired, partly to keep Laurel’s mother from taking her back, the brittle calm of the household is shaken. Miss Madrigal has no past, and no references; but when Mrs. St Maugham’s old friend the Judge comes to lunch, secrets are revealed and illusions destroyed.

Enid Bagnold’s 1955 play deals with issues that are as relevant now as they were in the 50’s, renewing and rebuilding lives, and above all the need for love, and the need to move on. It was first performed on Broadway, in 1955. It opened in London in 1956 with Edith Evans and
Peggy Ashcroft, and was the most successful play that year, eclipsing both “Look Back in Anger” and “The Deep Blue Sea”. It won numerous awards in Britain and on Broadway, including rave reviews from Kenneth Tynan. It has been revived regularly.

There was a run at the Donmar Theatre in 2008, with Margaret Tyzack (her last play) Penelope Wilton and Felicity Jones in her breakthrough role, and it ran at Chichester this year with Penelope Keith, to 5-star reviews. It was also filmed in 1964 starring Edith Evans, Deborah Carr, Hayley Mills and John Mills.

If you are interested in auditioning and/or would like further information, please email Murray or [email protected] 


  • Mrs St. Maugham: Playing age around 70. Cultured, but not as clever as she thinks she is; at her worst an arrant snob, but underneath it genuinely (if not wisely) devoted to her grand-daughter. Dominated by her aged butler from his sick-bed, with constant exhortations to maintain the old standards and the old ways.
  • Miss Madrigal: Playing age 35-45; a solitary woman with apparently no past, but a passion for gardening. Hired by Mrs. St Maugham as a governess for Laurel. Gradually develops a deep concern for both Mrs St Maugham and Laurel. Her arrival is the catalyst for the play, which reaches its climax when her secrets are revealed.
  • Laurel: Playing age 16: a troubled girl, who plays up to the idea of being “troubled”, living with her grandmother. She fled there after her mother re-married.
  • Maitland: Manservant, playing age anything between 30 and 60; insecure and nervy, but reasonably good at his job; still recovering from his time in prison as a Conscientious Objector during the war. Laurel’s only real companion.
  • The Judge: Playing age @75; old friend of Mrs St. Maugham. A little pompous at times, but shrewd and genuinely concerned for justice.
  • Olivia: Mrs St. Maugham’s daughter, mother of Laurel. Having been widowed young, after a marriage that appears to have been more successful socially than personally (rich older man) she has recently re-married for love, and is seeking to persuade Laurel to come back and join her and her new husband, and the child they are expecting.
  • Nurse: small but important part – mouthpiece of aged butler.
  • Applicants – two other women applying for the post of Governess; small parts in opening scene only:
    – “Little Lady” – nervous, fingers constantly fidgeting
    – “3rd Lady” – “Decayed Beauty”, arrogant, only came out of curiosity.

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