Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Calendar Girls at Langham Court celebrates middle-aged nudity

June 14, 2013 by Insu Kim, contributing writer

The latest production at the Langham Court Theatre is the simple story of a group of middle-aged women making a nude calendar. If it sounds familiar, it’s because it is.

Calendar Girls, also a major motion picture, is based on the inspiring true story in England. A number of women belonged to the Women Institute in England, a club that started in 1915 and did a lot of charitable work.

“In 1999, one of the women in the group, her husband died,” says director Michael King. “They were going into hospital every day. There was a family room in which families could spend time. The settee and the chesterfield in the room were worn out. They decided to buy new ones for the hospital. They started out by making a nude calendar [to raise the funds].”

The ladies of Calendar Girls (photo David Lowes).

The ladies of Calendar Girls (photo David Lowes).

When the women in the story originally made the nude calendar, their goal was very modest and humble; however, something magical happened to them.

After much media and public attention they ended up raising a lot of money, almost $3 million in total. They became a spectacular phenomenon around the world and their story became a movie and a play.

“In the play, there is tragedy of losing a loved one to cancer. There are a lot of life lessons in there. There is the friendship tested by various things: tragedy and fame,” says King.

Nudity is not easy for everyone, regardless of gender and age. In particular, nudity on the stage would be a difficult decision for middle-aged women because of the social convention that dictates that old or middle-aged women aren’t attractive.

“In our show these six women actually do take all their clothes off on the stage in front of the audience every night. There is a certain amount of bravery in that,” says King. “I think all the women are very beautiful, but they are not young. They are 50, 60, 70 years old… It took bravery for the original women to do this calendar, and it takes bravery for every woman who does the show to get up the stage in front of a group of people every night to take their clothes off.”

King says that Calendar Girls is a reminder for us to break our stereotypes of women’s bodies.

“Our show goes against stereotypes. We see the mainstream media every day. There are people out there; especially, a lot young women who see this stereotype and think, ‘I have to be that thin and that beautiful. They end up with eating disorders and body image problems,’” says King. “Even if one person comes to the show and sees how beautiful these women are at their age, it would’ve been worth it.”

Calendar Girls
June 13 to June 29
Langham Court Theatre
langhamtheatre.ca

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