Have you ever fantasised about hanging out for a day with Virginia Woolf? Walking the streets of London beside her as she thrashes around new ideas — with some funny jokes tossed in? With Sentient Theatre’s novel show ‘A Room Of One’s Own’, you get to spend a lightning 90 minutes the famed author.
Four actors portray aspects of Virginia as they act out the different voices in her head. This clever casting (including one Virginia as a male) is just one part of this muscular rendering of the 1928 lecture series Woolf delivered at women’s colleges in Cambridge on the topic of ‘Women and Fiction’.
Peta Hanrahan’s adaption shows us the broad territory covered, where little is free from Woolf’s eye. Comments range from women in history (or absence of record), to the education of girls, to women’s literacy. There were few big themes untouched by Woolf. She reflects on matrilineage, what women bequeath women, and the need for women’s scholarships and grants.
The setting at the historic La Mama Courthouse Theatre is all lofty heights, Baltic pine arched roof, and timbered floor. It reminds of one of the very halls she spoke in. Long strands of book pages strung along threads hang length-wise from the ceiling refer to ‘literary DNA’, of which Woolf’s work is a core component. The four actors play out different parts of Woolf’s mind across a catwalk-style linear space.
Big themes are peppered with whimsical personal asides, such as visiting her brother and friends at Cambridge, only to be denied access to its library due to her gender. A key premise of her lectures is that women are shut out from institutions which rehearse inclusion and entitlement.
There is little not covered in this masterful production, which both engages, challenges, and delights and is as fresh today as it was 88 years ago. Head to Carlton for an intimate encounter with one of the twentieth century’s finest minds.
Sarah W. is a dance-trained theatre lover with a flair for the bold, and non-traditional performance platforms. On-the-street or in the box seat, she is always looking for quality works that push the envelope!
‘A Roof of One’s Own’ runs 28 April – 8 May 2016 at La Mama Theatre. Buy tickets.
The venue is accessible.