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by Sarah Ruhl, directed by Iris Sowlat

"He needed something which he could attach his floating heart to."

Based on the Virginia Woolf novel and adapted by Sarah Ruhl, Orlando is the story of a charismatic English noble and poet who journeys from Queen Elizabeth I’s court to Shakespeare’s London, from Constantinople to Victorian England, and finally to the hustle and bustle of the 20th century. As they fall in and out of love, create poetry, and explore their gender, Orlando's world expands and time leaps forward. Orlando is a joyous romp through the universal quest to discover one's true self, one's place in the world, and one’s happiness. 


poster by Kitty Ryan

My dramaturgy for this production took up Carolyn Dinshaw, Kadji Amin, and Heather Love's work in the field of queer historiography as a starting point and applying it to this play which the director and I read as unequivocally queer and as having deep resonances with contemporary trans communities. We did not want to use the production as a way of proving that queerness exists or looking for evidence of it in the play's real-life inspiration, the love affair between Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West. I did a lot of research into Vita and Virginia, as well as Vita's ex-lover Violet Trefusis, focusing particularly on their letters and diary entries.

These letters eventually became part of the lobby display - a space across from the box office where audience members were invited to write notes to someone they love and leave them on the wall, and to scan a QR code leading to a video (linked on the right) with recordings of letters between Vita, Virginia, and Violet. 

Dramaturgy Materials
Lobby Display
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