“I like to imagine that Shakespeare had a sister,” she said, “whose genius was for fiction.” She lust for it. It consumed her. She needed it and it needed her, but she was banned from bonding with it because she was a woman.
This is Virginia Woolf – or, in our case, Naomi Wright. Wright is co-founder of the Bloomsbury Collective, an equity co-op presenting Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own at the Campbell House Museum this until November 24th, 2013. Along with director and co-founder Sarah Rodgers, the all female cast and crew came together to explore the state of equality for women in today’s world, just as Woolf did back in 1928 when the play is set.
It must be mentioned that Wright and Rodgers did not intend the all female line up.
“We didn’t say that since this is Virgina Woolf…we must be all women,” Wright explained, adding that after asking the internet where women in the arts presently stood, she came across a study that begged attention. The woman conducting research, a professor out of Princeton, noted that 80% of the plays produced in the US are written by men. The gave her the idea to send out the same script, one authored by a man’s name and the other authored by a female name, to various agents across the US. The outcome shocked Wright.
“She found that the female scrips got a more negative review from the female literary directors and agents,” Wright explained. “Basically saying that the female script was weaker. It’s a very disturbing thought that someone women tend to be harder on other women.”
This was what encouraged Wright and Rodger’s decision to choose all women. They wanted this project to be about women recognizing and working with other women who were not only talented, but passionate about similar mediums.
The play – A Room of One’s Own – was adapted for the stage in 1986 by Patrick Garland. Falling in love with the piece over 10 years ago when Rodgers brought it to her attention, Wright found Woolf’s words so “exquisitely moving” she couldn’t let it go.
“I can sometimes get really tongue-tied and can’t put my finger on a word but Virginia Woolf is so elegant,” Wright boasted. “It’s kind of like speaking Shakespeare. The way she spins sentences and the way she spins thoughts is extremely satisfying as a director and actor.”
“She’s a really complicated woman, too, which has been really fascinating. I wish I had time to read every biography.”
Wright describes that, for all Woolf was outspoken and opinionated about, she was actually quite a sensitive person.
“Virginia was really susceptive to criticism. She was so shy and very reserved,” Wright said. “When people were critical of her work and appearance, it hurt her deeply.”
That feeling and vulnerability is threaded in A Room of One’s Own and Wright does a fasniating job of portraying it.
Guests have the opportunity to peruse the Campbell House, as well as Woolf’s diary and personal letters that offer a glimpse into Woolf’s internal life.
Exploring topics of gender in literature in life, Wright as Woolf abandons her speech – the one she is giving in the play – to more anecdotal and opinionated views. ‘How unpleasant it is to be locked out,’ she proclaims, referring to Woolf’s inability to enter a library as a public person; as a woman.
Possibly the most poignant tie in to women as writers and characters in literature is the fictional sister of Shakespeare that Woolf tells us about. She uses the idea to discern that trying to define one sex as distinct from the other blatantly interferes with the unity of the mind. Doing this has resulted in the representation of women – profound in literature, property in real life.
Wright’s ability to naturalize Woolf’s words is impeccable and overpowering. Woolf’s words still sting with importance in today’s world; it’s staggering to hear the thoughts of such a revolutionary as though she is standing in front of you, telling you that history does not have to repeat itself. We have the ability to change it.
“It’s fatal to think of sex when writing,” she said. “It’s much more important to be oneself than anyone else.”
Wednesday – Saturday, 7:00 pm
Cost: $20 – Light refreshments. Cash bar.
Tickets: brownpapertickets and Campbell House Box Office at 416.597.0227 ext 2
To learn more, please visit: aroomofonesown.ca
Get social: @roomofonesownTO facebook.com/aroomofonesown