Virginia Woolf Debuts On New York's Stage
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When you think of Virginia Woolf, you may think of her as essayist, novelist or even a critic. But when it comes to theater, her name appears in Edward Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and that's about it.
Now, Woolf is finally making her mark on the New York theater scene as a playwright, thanks to a collaboration between the Women's Project and SITI Company.
"Freshwater," Woolf's one and only play, is a comedic romp set against the backdrop of a summer night during the Victorian era.
"Virginia Woolf wrote the first version in 1923 and then put it away in a drawer and then opened up that drawer again in 1935 and did a complete rewrite and both versions have a certain delightful quality to them," says director Anne Bogart, the artistic director of SITI Company.
"And we wanted to find the parts of each that might work together, so it was really a process of working with the actors, trying out the two different versions and putting together the version for 2009 that we have now. It really was from listening to the actors," continues Bogart.
Written for her friends and family, the characters in the play are based on Woolf's ancestors. Actor Tom Nelis plays Charles Hay Cameron, husband to Julia Margaret Cameron, a Victorian photographer and relative to Virginia Woolf.
"Virginia Woolf wrote a play for the Bloomsbury group, for her community, about another community that lived in the Victorian era, a generation before them that they were actually related to, and she was writing an homage to them," says Nelis. "But she was really poking fun at her own group, and it was written for her niece's birthday party."
The producing artistic director of Women's Project, Julie Crosby, says that having the company partner up with Woolf's work embodies the mission of the organization.
"Women's Project is dedicated to producing and promoting women theater artists, namely playwrights and directors who even today receive fewer than 20 percent of the professional opportunities nationwide," says Crosby. "So really, all I have to say is that Virginia Woolf wrote a play. It's never been produced and that's sort of a testament to Women's Project's mission and the vitality of our mission."
For more information on this fun-filled Victorian comedy, visit www.womensproject.org.