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The Chalk Garden

The Chalk Garden
Your Price: $15.95 CDN
Author: Enid Bagnold
Publisher: Samuel French
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 117
Pub. Date: 1956
ISBN-10: 0573606897
ISBN-13: 9780573606892
Cast Size: 7 women, 2 men

About the Play:

The Chalk Garden is a full-length drama by Enid Bagnold. From the author of National Velvet, this psychological chamber piece explores the secret world of childhood through the prism of a dyed-in-the-wool British dowager Mrs. St. Maugham and her precocious and equally eccentric granddaughter Laurel. When enigmatic Miss Madrigal is hired as household companion and manager, the two finally meet their match.

The Chalk Garden is part comedy of manners and part murder mystery. After many younger years as a London society hostess, Mrs. St. Maugham fills her days tending her traditional English garden in the harsh chalk soil at her country estate. When she seeks a governess for her troubled teenage granddaughter, Laurel (whose habit of setting small fires is getting a bit out of hand) the child connects instantly with a mysterious stranger, Miss Madrigal, an enigmatic woman who has come without any references. Who, exactly, is this Madrigal? With a talent for gardening and avoiding questions, she fascinates the equally inscrutable Laurel, who can never resist a mystery...especially if it might involve murder. The action concerns the gradual revelation that Miss Madrigal once stood trial for murder and the governess's attempt to rescue her teenage charge from her grandmother: the lying Laurel can no more flourish in this world of licensed eccentricity, than rhododendrons can prosper in Mrs. St. Maugham's arid chalk garden. Both singular comedy and haunting mystery, this startling insight into mother-daughter relationships is regarded as one of the twentieth century's most remarkable plays.

The Chalk Garden premiered in 1955 on Broadway at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre and received several Tony Award nominations including best play. Its London debut was in 1956 at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. The play has been revived numerous times on Broadway, has become a favourite scene study vehicle in acting classes and workshops and is regularly performed in regional repertory, high school, college, and community theatre productions.

Cast: 7 women, 2 men

What people say:

"A tantalizing, fascinating and stimulating piece of theatre." — New York Daily News

"A very fresh and personal kind of play with wit, literacy, and an almost unearthly integrity." — New York Herald Tribune

About the Playwright:

Enid Bagnold (1889-1981) was an English novelist and playwright. She wrote six novels and 10 plays, including the London and Broadway hits The Chalk Garden and A Matter of Gravity, in a literary career that spanned more than 60 years. She gained celebrity after her novel National Velvet was made into a film, providing the 12-year-old Elizabeth Taylor with one of the most notable roles of her Hollywood career.