The work of two women, Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West, is presented by many. Luna Stage premieres 'Vita and Virginia', written by Eileen Atkins, in New Jersey, with performances starting this weekend. Directed by Jane Mandel, and starring Mona Hennessy as Virginia Woolf and Rachel Black-Spaulding as Vita Sackville-West, the show was introduced Sunday to the public by South Orange resident and Virginia Woolf scholar, Professor Anne Fernald. The play is based on letters the two writers exchanged over a period of some 20 years. Performances continue through October 28.
Mandel describes 'Vita and Virginia' as the story of "two exceptional women struggling to navigate their lives, their work and their need for intimacy in a world full of expectations and societal assumptions." As Fernald explained in a post-show "talk back" session, the two women, both prolific writers and well-known in their time, saw friendship and intimacy bridge a gap of age and class. Woolf was middle class, while Sackville-West was an aristocrat, whose titles, the Honorable Victoria Mary Sackville-West, then Lady Nicolson, hint at her position in society.
Sackville-West traveled widely and loved passionately. Woolf, more of a homebody, was inspired to write Orlando by described by Sackville-West. Sackville-West's son Nigel Nicolson described the book as "the longest and most charming love-letter in literature."
The Luna Stage production allows audience members a similar intimacy with the actors, decor and even the production's props. The play spans the years 1921 through 1941. In the later years, Woolf described "a battle against depression routed by clearing out the kitchen."
However, the Blitz combined with personal factors to worsen Woolf's depression; in March of 1941, Woolf drowned herself in the River Ouse.
As a matter of local interest, the women discuss the town of Seven Oaks, in Kent. That town is the namesake for the Colgate estate that became the Seven Oaks section of Orange.
Luna Stage will host two additional talk back sessions after the following performances:
Immediately following the 3pm matinee performance on Sunday, October 7, 2012.
Immediately following the 7:30pm performance on Thursday, October 18, 2012.
Luna Stage is located at:
555 Valley Road West Orange, NJ 07052(973) 395-5551