Those are the words playwright Tim Firth employed in the author’s notes for his 2008 stage play “Calendar Girls.” They refer to the staging of one particular scene. It is, perhaps, the most famous scene in the play, as it was in the 2003 film from which Firth’s script – he also co-authored the movie – was adapted. In the scene, a number of proper English women take turns posing for a fundraising calendar. Though technically unclothed, they are tastefully “masked” by various inanimate objects.
The sequence, when staged properly, is both hilarious and sweetly tender.
“As in the best traditions of vaudevillian fan dances, the art of the play’s nudity lies in what is withheld,” writes Firth, who then suggests the notion of “fabulous concealment” as the guiding principle for this now-famous photography sequence, adding, “Should we see anything we oughtn’t, the whole scene will deflate like a soufflé on which the oven door has been opened too quickly.”
It is rare for playwrights to be quite so insistent as to how a specific moment in their play is to be carried out. That said, as one of the most popular and frequently produced plays of the last decade, one could say “Calendar Girls” is worth the extra care and attention.
“This is not a play about nudity, so much as it’s a play about relationships,” agrees Ashleigh Worley, who is directing “Calendar Girls” for Sonoma Arts Live, having staged the show last March in Statesville, North Carolina. That production, at the nonprofit Theatre! Statesville, was well-received and strongly reviewed, with particular attention called to the cleverness and sensitivity of Worley’s direction. Not long after Worley relocated to the Bay Area 10 months ago – to take on the role of education program manager at Mill Valley’s Marin Theatre Company – she connected with Sonoma Arts Live. She now serves as education manager for SAL, in addition to continuing her work with MTC.
“Calendar Girls” marks Worley’s California directorial debut.
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