Naked acting ambition about to pay off

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TWEED Theatre is in the final stages of preparing for its most daring performance yet.

The Peebles ladies are among the first amateur groups in the United Kingdom to bare all for the award-winning show Calendar Girls.

The clothesless cast will step on the Eastgate Theatre stage this week, a few days after the amateur performance rights for the true story turned hit film are released for a limited period of time.

Rehearsals of the play – about a group of Women’s Institute members from Yorkshire who pose for nude calendars to raise money for leukaemia research – have coincided with director Katherine Mathison’s recovery from surgery to treat a malignant melanoma.

Katharine said: “As soon as I heard that the amateur rights might be available, I contacted the publisher and asked to be put on a waiting list so we were first in the queue when the rights were actually released.

“There wasn’t time to think about it for too long and I am delighted that we have secured the rights and are effectively premiering the amateur production of Calendar Girls.”

The original Calendar Girls has raised more than £3million for leukaemia research, with a percentage of each amateur performance supporting the cause.

The Tweed Theatre group have also produced their own nude calendar, currently on sale, with money raised being split between the Margaret Kerr Unit Appeal and Up2U peer education charity in Peebles.

The cast includes plenty of well known faces, including Elizabeth O’Raw, who plays lead character Annie. Others to appear are founding Tweed Theatre members Ros Taylor and Eva Bisset, Pam Graham, Ruth Murray, Mary Daykin, Donna Vandenberghen, Lesley MacFarlane, Clare Aitken and Anne Taylor. Keith Brunton, Angus Shearer, Tim Wilcock and Stephen Mathison are also on stage, though they keep their clothes on.

“Stephen was also responsible for taking the photographs for the calendar and put everyone at ease, although I think copious amounts of wine and nervous laughter helped too,” said Katharine.

“The pictures are all lovely and the calendar will hopefully make people smile.

“We all know people who have had a tough time as a result of illness or other problems and seeing the show or buying a calendar will help to ensure that these organisations can help people in a practical, caring and supportive way.”

Calendar Girls is performed at the Eastgate every night from 7.30pm from Wednesday to Saturday, September 8, as well as a matinee at 2.30pm on September 8.

Tickets cost £10 (£8 concession), with limited seats left for evening performances.

Tweed Theatre calendars are available for £5 from the Tontine, the Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Off the Back Barbers in Peebles, at Broughton village store and outlets in Walkerburn and Innerleithen.