The Secret Garden


The Secret Garden

by Frances Hodgson Burnett, adapted 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 performance period. If you are unsure whether unavailability will be an issue please check first by emailing the director, Clare Howard on

Director: Clare Howard     Location: Main House

Production Dates: 17th August-1st September.

There are 15 performances in total. There are no weekday matinees, apart from Monday 26th August which is a bank holiday. The full breakdown of performances is as follows:

Sat 17th Aug: 2.30pm        Sun 25th: 11am & 3pm
Sun 18th: 11am & 3pm

Mon 26th: 2.30pm

Mon 19th: Day off

Tues 27th: Day off

Tues 20th: 7pm

Wed 28th: 7pm

Wed 21st: 7pm

Thurs 29th: 7pm

Thurs 22nd: 7pm

Fri 30th: Day off

Fri 23rd: Day off

Sat 31st: 2.30pm

Sat 24th: 2.30pm

Sun 1st Sept: 11am & 3pm

Rehearsal Dates: Rehearsals will start at the beginning July, with the possibility of one or two puppetry workshops beforehand. Exact schedule to arranged following casting. Total of 4 to 5 rehearsals a week, possibly including some Sundays.

Audition Dates: 

Option A: Monday 11th February, 7pm

Option B: Saturday 16th February, 6pm

Option C: Thursday 28th February, 7pm

If you are absolutely not able to make an audition date but want to be seen please email Clare Howard -

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 – Clare Howard – 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.

Format of auditions

Auditions will take the form of a general workshop including movement, devising and puppetry alongside text work.  Extracts provided in advance, they don’t need to be learnt but please be aware that you may be asked to work on any of them at the audition.

Audition Extracts

Scans of the audition extracts can be emailed to you. Alternatively hard copies can be picked up from the theatre office (10.30am-6pm, Mon-Fri). In addition, a scan of the script may be requested by email, or alternatively a reading copy is available at the theatre office to read on-site.

About the Play

This is an imaginative and engaging adaptation, faithful to the spirit of the much-loved children’s classic novel.  An enchanting family show, it explores the redeeming power of nature and friendship. 

Orphaned in India, Mary Lennox is brought to Yorkshire to live with her uncle at gloomy Misselthwaite Manor.  What are the strange cries she hears, and why is there a forbidden, hidden garden?  She is befriended by her maid Martha and her brother Dickon, who can charm the wild animals.  With their support, Mary and her invalid cousin Colin find their way through trauma to happiness and companionship.  As the garden flourishes, a secret is uncovered, lessons are learnt and life returns to Misselthwaite.

About the Production

This production moves from India to Yorkshire, and from inside to outside in the blink of an eye.  We will use a flexible set, movement and a lot of imagination to uncover the secret garden and make it bloom.  Animal puppets are integral to the production and most characters will handle them, although there will also be specific puppeteers who will take the minor roles.  It would also be great to incorporate live music if we can – please get in touch if you might be interested in this. 

The Roles

All roles are open to actors any ethnicity.  However, for the role of Ayah – an Indian nursemaid – we will specifically be seeking an actor of South Asian heritage. 

Ages are flexible and all child roles will be played by actors beyond full-time education.

It is hoped that the cast will include a mixture of experienced and less-experienced actors.

Support will be given with accents if required.

Puppeteers: to work with animal puppets.  No previous puppetry experience necessary but must be physically flexible and enjoy movement.  May also play smaller adult roles.

The Children

Mary Lennox:  a young orphan. Daughter of the Viceroy of India, Mary is emotionally repressed and spoilt.  After the trauma of her parents’ deaths she is sent to live with her reclusive uncle in Yorkshire.  Through the friendship of the animals and children she learns to love and to be a child again.  Mary does some simple singing and skips.

Martha: a maid, same age as Mary and befriends her.  Yorkshire accent.  Down to earth, friendly and motherly.  She is a champion skipper.

Dickon: Martha’s older brother, who befriends animals and helps Mary discover nature.  Yorkshire accent and warm personality.  Plays an instrument (pref recorder/penny whistle/flute), whistles and sings.

Colin Craven: Mary’s invalid cousin, ten years old (could be played by a girl).  Colin undergoes painful treatment and isolation for his supposed condition, which makes him peevish.  Through Mary, her friends and animals he learns to love and share, and regains his health.

Principal Adults

Archibald Craven: Colin’s father.  Kind, but consumed by grief for his dead wife (Mary’s aunt, Colin’s mother).  His mental anguish has physically twisted his body.  Playing age 35-50.

Mrs Medlock: Misselthwaite Manor’s strict, but not unkind, housekeeper.  Yorkshire accent.  Playing age any 40+

Ben Weatherstaff: a kindly gardener, who helps the children.  Yorkshire accent.  Playing age any 50+ 

Other Adult Roles (may be doubled and/or played by puppeteers)

Mrs Phipps: a senior servant at Misselthwaite Manor.  Yorkshire accent. 

Ayah: Mary’s Indian nursemaid.  Indian accent. 

Dr Craven: Archibald Craven’s cousin who inflicts cruel ‘treatments’ on Colin

Dr Madeleine Brés: a pioneering Doctor.  French accent.

Mrs Lennox: Mary’s beautiful, proud mother

Mr Lennox: Mary’s father, Viceroy of India

Earthquake inspectors, party guests, servants.