Blue Stockings


Blue Stockings by Jessica Swale

Please read carefully all the details, in particular rehearsal dates. Please do not audition if you have significant clashes with the rehearsal or any clashes with performances. If you are unsure whether unavailability will be an issue please check first by emailing the Director, Jen Dewsbury

Director: Jen Dewsbury      Production Dates:  15th -23rd March 2019

Performance Schedule: 10 performances, including Saturday matinees. Sunday off.

Rehearsal Dates: Beginning the week of 28th January.

Audition Dates:  First Round:Option A: 9th October – 7pm / Option B: 11th October -7pm

Recall audition: 17th October – 7pm

Audition Format: Group auditions. All auditionees will be asked to arrive for the start time. Extracts will be looked at in pairs/groups with different parts and combinations tried.

How to sign-up: 

Please download and complete the standard ‘Auditions Submission Form’ here.

The completed form should be returned as an attachment to Director of Productions at The Maddermarket Theatre, Jez Pike at Your information will then be processed, stored and distributed in accordance with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The director of the production – Jen Dewsbury – will then contact you via email to arrange an audition slot.

Please note that all auditionees must complete an ‘Auditions Submission Form’ prior to auditioning, even if have had existing contact with or made informal arrangements with the director of that production.

About the Play

Blue Stockings was first performed at RADA in 2012, and this version, developed when Jessica Swale was writing the film script, was performed at the Globe in 2013.

In 1896, Girton College, Cambridge, is the first college in Britain to admit women. They work and study hard to match their male peers grade for grade, but when the men graduate, the women leave with nothing but the stigma of being a ‘bluestocking’ - an unnatural, educated woman. They are denied degrees and go back to their homes and families unqualified and unmarriageable. 

Tess Moffat and her fellow first years are determined to win the right to graduate. But little do they anticipate the hurdles in their way: the distractions of love, the cruelty of the class divide, or the strength of the opposition who will do anything to stop them. The play follows them over the course of one tumultuous academic year, in their fight to change the future of education. 

About the production

We can expect an empowering, historical drama that will make us consider how far we have come, and how far we still have to go. Every character is human - even the men so opposed to the idea of educating women. The production will seek to bring out the strong storytelling element of the play and to give every character’s story due attention and care. The play has drama, romance, comedy and an impassioned fight for equality which make for a rich rehearsal process.

Cast Breakdown

The cast will likely consist of 7 female actors and 6 male with playing ages ranging from 18 to 60’s. A number of actors will be asked to double-up characters so versatility and a willingness to get stuck in will be appreciated.

The Girton Girls - playing age 18-25 years

TESS MOFFAT . As a child she once climbed up on a roof of a local school so she could eavesdrop on the lessons. A first year student at Girton. Has a passion for astronomy and plans to travel across South America charting the stars. Falls in love at Girton.

CELIA WILLBOND  A fragile, diligent student who is repeating her first year studies after she was sent home with nervous exhaustion the previous year. She is probably the most mindful of propriety, Girton’s rules and how women are perceived in their society. 

CAROLYN ADDISON, an early bohemian. Wealthy. An only child. A first year student at Girton. She has already travelled the world with her parents, and is a firm believer in the empirical merits of science and that rules are made to be broken; despite the no pets rule at Girton she snuck her wolfhound onto the school grounds and later buys two afghan hounds. She plans to be a doctor when she finishes her degree. 

MAEVE SULLIVAN, a mystery. A first year student. She has a quiet intelligence and often holds back before surprising her classmates with her knowledge, insight and reasoning. She shares very little about her home life. Her background is only revealed when tragedy cuts her time at Girton short. 

The Boys - playing age 18-25 years

RALPH MAYHEW, a second year student at Trinity. A scientist and romantic. He comes from a traditional family and seems destined for a high profile future. 

LLOYD, a second year student at Trinity. The most vocal opponent of women studying at Cambridge. Allowing women to graduate may devalue his own achievements at Cambridge. He comes from a privileged and illustrious background. Highly competitive, and encouraged and supported by his family, he is under great pressure to be the most successful of his peers. 

HOLMES, a second year student at Trinity. Around the other men he has a bravura that perhaps masks a more sensitive, artistic side. We learn that he is a violinist in a chamber orchestra and a runner. While he is opposed to women graduating from Cambridge, he is able to admire their courage and determination to fight for their right to do so. 

EDWARDS, a second year student at Trinity. He is the most sympathetic to the women’s cause, yet whenever he tries to make them feel welcome he is shut down by Lloyd or Holmes. He often finds himself the butt of their pranks - they rig a card game and get him drunk, make him sing (he needs to be a confident singer!)

WILL BENNETT, a 2nd year student at King’s; Tess’s childhood friend. Not as prosperous as most of his peers, Will’s reputation and success at Cambridge is important to him and he becomes aware that being friends with a ‘bluestocking’ is creating barriers. 

The Staff (likely to double up with ’the others')

ELIZABETH WELSH (1843-1921) early 40s. Mistress of Girton College from 1885-1903. She has invested a lot of her life in education, for herself and other women, and leads the campaign to allow women to graduate from Cambridge. She takes the long term view and is forced to make decisions that perhaps she’d rather not. She is wary of the campaign for women’s suffrage, believing that their reputation for radicalism and violence could damage the case for women’s right to graduate.

DR MAUDSLEY (1835-1918) early 50s. A renowned psychiatrist. Much of what he says in the play is based on his writings including ‘Sex in Mind and in Education’. He is not a villain and will not be played as such, he is simply a man with the views of his time and the firm belief that men and women are biologically different and the future of the human race depends on its embracing these differences. 

MR BANKS mid 30s-late 40s. a natural-science lecturer at Girton and Trinity. A highly intelligent, modest and generous man and an unconventional teacher. His commitment to the women’s rights movement loses him a prestigious fellowship at Trinity and his teaching job. 

MISS BLAKE late 20s-late 30s. A moral-science lecturer at Girton. Previously a student at the college when it was located in Hitchin, she never left. An inspiring tutor, a free-thinker and supporter of the campaign for women’ suffrage. She knows the sacrifices that a woman of the time makes when she chooses education and a career as she herself has made them. Girton and its students are all she has. 

PROFESSOR COLLINS late 40s-60. A senior lecturer at Trinity. One of the academics who offers Mr. Banks the fellowship. Sceptical about the value of educating women. Part of the examining board for the women’s end of year examinations.

PROFESSOR ANDERSON late 40s-60. A lecturer at Trinity. One of the academics who offers Mr. Banks the fellowship. He never offers an opinion on the education of women, but his support for Mr Banks suggests he’s not entirely against it. 

PROFESSOR RADLEIGH late 40s-60. A Board Member at Trinity. One of the academics who offers Mr. Banks the fellowship. Sceptical about the value of educating women, "he wouldn't want such a life for his wife or daughters". Part of the examining board fro the women’s end of year examinations.

MINNIE, 20s. Girton’s housemaid. Cleans rooms, looks after the women and has a good relationship with the students. She can be trusted with the women’s secrets (hides the dogs for Carolyn and helps Tess sneak out at night). 

MR PECK, 50-60. The gardener & maintenance man. The students have him wrapped around their little fingers leaving him perpetually terrified that his boss, Mrs. Welsh, will find out.

MISS BOTT, late 30s - 50. The women's chaperone. We don't learn much about her life, but while she is a stickler for the rules on the surface, we see her allow Tess to sneak out to meet Ralph. It will be interesting to explore her inner thoughts and feelings about her charges and her job. 

The others

BILLY SULLIVAN, 20s. Maeve’s brother, a labourer. As the oldest male he became responsible for providing for the family after their Dad walked out. 

MRS LINDLEY, 30-50. Shopkeeper in the haberdashery. Probably supportive of the Girton girls and their cause, but her shop is rented from Lloyd’s father. A fact that Lloyd's not slow use to his advantage. 



LADY & HUSBAND, in cafe