Frome To Canterbury Tales
A new adaptation of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, written and directed by Gill Morrell
Production dates November 17 – 19 2022
Audition dates July 19th and 21st, 7pm in the Balcony Room at The George
Written especially for Frome Drama, the play transports Chaucer’s vivid characters, the story of their pilgrimage, and the gripping and often raunchy tales that they tell on the way, to the early 1950s.
A mystery bus tour has been organised by the landlady of a Frome pub, attracting a varied collection of people who all have their reasons for wanting three days away. With everyone assembled, it is proposed that stories should be told to enliven the lunch stops and the evening camps, with music provided by bus driver Geoff Chaucer. As the play progresses, the travellers’ back stories develop alongside the stories that they tell.
The stories as well as the surrounding narrative are all based on Chaucer but updated, both in content and also in language. There are fourteen travellers, roughly equal in importance, with seven women and seven men. Each traveller takes on several roles in the internal Tales, often but not always relating to and developing their own character. Playing ages are indicated but flexible.
The set is initially a pub and then the outside of a 1950s bus which we hope to move around the stage, together with a tree which can be climbed – both tree and bus will be fairly 2-D and stylised rather than entirely realistic. Props for the Tales are all ‘found’ from the travellers’ possessions.
The music will be composed and led by Laurie as Geoff Chaucer, the bus driver, using guitar and any other means to produce early 1950smusic. Music is used to introduce and highlight the tales – especially the sex scenes – and there is opportunity for cast to contribute to live singing.
Colonel Knight: Age 60+, a relic of the Indian Army, endlessly reminiscing about his past and expecting his son to follow in his military footsteps. In the Tales, he has two sizeable roles and a smaller one
Simon Knight: Aged early 20s, just finished National Service, determined not to join the Army but putting off telling his father. A nice young man
Eric Summoner: Any age, probably around 40. Fundamentally dishonest, spends his life on the edge of the law selling whatever he can get hold of at a profit. In the Tales, three main roles
Percy Miller: Probably over 50, probably overweight, a heavy drinker, always at the pub, likes to provoke a fight and to tell a rude joke, especially about women, never married. He tells a Tale and has two main roles in other Tales
Basil Merchant: Under 35. Ex-RAF, now in business, but both less successfully than he pretends. Takes two main roles and a smaller one in the Tales
Oswald Reeve: Over 40, could be up to 60. Highly respectable and convinced of his worth, but has just discovered that his long-held job has disappeared beneath him, and has come on the trip to find a time to explain to his wife. He tells a Tale and also takes two main roles
Rose Reeve: (based on the Prioress): Mid-20s to early 40s, married to Oswald and firmly in her place as the perfect housewife, romantic, develops some inner strength as the play goes on. She takes two good roles and a smaller one
Freda Monk: Mid-20s, rather mannish, from a ‘good’ family and now runs a small riding school. Tells one Tale and has one good role and two smaller ones
Gwen Host: late middle-age, landlady of the Frome pub and organiser of the trip, efficient, capable. Takes several small roles in the Tales
Brenda Shipman: any age from 30 – 50, works as a housekeeper and originally from Devon. A natural leader, sees through people’s pretensions, friendly. Tells one Tale and has three other roles
Agnes Pardoner: young, no more than 30. Pious – a chapel-goer – and easily shocked. Three smallish roles in Tales and tells one, too.
Diana Friar: the same age as Agnes but the opposite in character! An aspiring film star – think Diana Dors. Very sexy. Tells a Tale and takes two big parts and a smaller one
Alison Bath: 50s+. The Wife of Frome / Bath – many times married. Tells her own Prologue which shows her as a much less attractive character than we tend to expect. Practical, selfish – an older version of Diana. Tells her Tale and takes two smallish parts
The play will need a producer, a stage management team, set builders, someone to run sound (some recorded music and sound effects though most music will be live), and someone to design and run lights (an interesting task as lighting will be vital to differentiate the tales from normal life), and a costume person.
Please contact Gill on firstname.lastname@example.org to get a copy of the audition pieces, if you want more information or if you can’t make the audition dates. Rehearsals will start late summer and will be on (most) Sunday late afternoons / evenings and one evening per week.