Described as "the longest and most charming love letter in literature", Woolf's playful modernist ode to Vita Sackville-West, the author, aristocrat and "pronounced Sapphist" with whom Woolf had an affair in the late 1920s, covers over 300 years of history, spans the European continent and famously transforms the gender of its protagonist half way through. Time Out quizzed director Emma Valente and designer Kate Davis from rebellious Melbourne-based collective The Rabble about...
... Virginia Woolf in her time
EV: "The 1920s was a very exciting time in the history of feminism and identity politics. Woolf's achievement was to express that optimism in a new literary style."
... Orlando's cross-gender transformation
EV: "I think Woolf is saying, way before her time, that gender is a learned construction. Orlando, when she wakes up as a woman, doesn't blink, doesn't feel any different. But the minute she puts on a constraining dress, and the world sees her as a woman, she learns the traits of femininity."
... adapting such a crowded novel for the stage
KD: "It's definitely new territory for us. There's a new fluidity. We're really excited about the distillation of all those images into a single frame, and about how many stories you can tell through that one image, but I think the audience will feel less trapped than in our previous work. It's really about arriving at an image, holding it, then departing: a journey through the landscape."
... gender politics in our own time
EV: "I feel very positive about the present. I think the fact that we can even have arguments about gay marriage in the mainstream press is significant. It' something that couldn't happen maybe ten years ago, back when I first read Orlando, and I feel like that's a major progression. Back then I still felt outside of society and its norms."