NEWCASTLE — Heartwood Theater’s stage is set to present Enid Bagnold’s drama “The Chalk Garden” May 20 through 28 in the Poe Theater, 81 Academy Hill Road.

“Back in Heartwood’s earlier years,” said Executive Director Joy Braley, “we produced annual winter dramas (affectionately referred to as our ‘Janu-Dramas’) in the atrium of Skidompha Library. It was somewhat of an unlikely performance space, but Skidompha was gracious, audiences flocked in, and we packed people everywhere – even on the stairs (we supplied cushions) and in the balcony. ‘The Chalk Garden’ is just such a piece, and we’re excited to share it with audiences this spring.”

Quoted by the New York Daily News as “a tantalizing, fascinating and stimulating piece of theatre,” “The Chalk Garden” tells the story of the overbearing Mrs. St. Maugham (Carol Florman) and her granddaughter Laurel (Rebecca Tomasello), a challenging child, much in need of care.

In Act One, a new governess, Miss Madrigal (Nanette Fraser), is hired to bring balance to the household. Her secret past becomes an intrigue to Laurel and the manservant Maitland (Jason Iannone). When Laurel’s mother, Olivia (Teralyn Reiter), arrives to reclaim Laurel back into her life, a battle ensues with Mrs. St. Maugham. Finally, Mrs. St. Maugham’s lifelong friend, a Judge (Tim Cunningham), arrives for luncheon … and the lives of the characters intertwine during Acts Two and Three. Additional cast members include Rachael Schuster and Heidi Kopishke, who also costumes the show. Ryan Kohnert is technical director, assisted by Lincoln Adacemy interns Annalise Garnett and Ben Schwink, and Griff Braley directs.

The setting is the solarium of St. Maugham’s Sussex home, part potting shed and part sitting room. Struggling for balance in a rapidly changing time in British history, the past and the future of Mrs. St. Maugham’s world subtly shift and collide, as each character in the story chooses — or is forced — to face personal transformation.

A 1964 Hollywood film version stars Hayley Mills, Deborah Kerr and Dame Edith Evans.

First staged in the United States in 1955 and the next year in Britain, the play sits in theater history at the end of drawing room or comedy of manners style productions, while weaving drama, comedy and a wistful sense of the memory-play into a unique script – one of the only plays by Bagnold.

The play is performed in two acts with a very brief intermission. Total running time is approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Tickets are $5/students through college and $20/adults. Reservations are recommended by emailing or phoning Heartwood at 563-1373. For more information, visit

“The Chalk Garden” is sponsored by Moose Crossing Garden Center, and Heartwood’s long running season sponsor, Bath Savings Institution, and is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals on behalf of Samuel French, Inc.