Friends show their steel as they look on the funny side
A HEARTENING celebration of female friendship can be enjoyed with Quarndon Amateur Dramatics Society (QUADS) next week with the staging of Robert Harling's poignant 1980s drama Steel Magnolias.
Harling wrote the play on the advice of friend, as a way of dealing deal with the death of his diabetic sister, Susan.
It was first staged to critical acclaim in 1987 and quickly followed up with a very successful film by the same name in 1989, starring Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Julia Roberts, Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis and Daryl Hannah.
The title is intended to be a reflection of its main female characters who can be as delicate as magnolias but also, when required, as tough as steel.
"Steel Magnolias is a lovely bittersweet drama which is full of lively, female banter and humour, although, of course, it also has tragedy at its heart," explains director Jan Baggaley.
"Part of the reason we chose to stage it is that we have plenty of good female performers in the society at the moment but fewer men, and it is a play with several leading roles for women.
"I also feel that the story has a timeless appeal. I directed Steel Magnolias about 17 years ago and have discovered that its main themes are just as relevant today – revealing how women are there for each other, both through the good times and at moment of crisis.
"It is basically a celebration of the type of female friendship which has been there for millenniums.
"We are very skilled at clubbing together to help each other out and knowing how to find the positive, even in tragedy."
In some ways, Steel Magnolias has a similar feel to it as the play Calendar Girls, in terms of focusing on a group of women who meet adversity with strength and humour.
Instead of a WI hall in Yorkshire, though these women meet up weekly in a Louisiana beauty salon where they exchange banter, gossip and generally enjoy each other's company.
As with Calendar Girls though, the story is based on real events. The character Shelby – the daughter of one of the friends – attends the salon with her mother. Like Harling's sister, Shelby is a diabetic and when pregnancy and childbirth put too much strain on her health, the other characters find a way of coping with their distress through humour.
WHAT: Steel Magnolias
WHERE: Quarndon Village Hall, Church Road.
WHEN: November 21-24, 7.30pm
TICKETS: Call 01332 840518