Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 51 Page 52 Page 53 Page 54 Page 55 Page 56 Page 57 Page 58 Page 59 Page 60SANTA CRUZ SHAKESPEARE 2016 32 DIRECTOR’S NOTES / david morden DRAMATURG’S NOTES / SAMANTHA RASLER One of the most striking things about the stage adaptation of Orlando is that it ends on an ellipsis (...). It offers no answers, no conclusions, not even a snappy final word to the story. Just as in life, it leaves all questions hanging. This story speaks to so many aspects of our lives: gender, class, love, betrayal, time, literature, and above all, identity. But in thinking about this story over the past few months, I’ve come to believe that it’s about the adventure of life and embracing the unknown. The character of Orlando lives through five centuries and must adapt and change with each one. Late in the novel, Woolf writes, “For if there are (at a venture) seventy-six different times all ticking in the mind at once, how many different people are there not—Heaven help us—all having lodgment at one time or another in the human spirit? Some say two thousand and fifty-two.” This is the aspect of this work that I find so modern and so timeless. In an era when many of our institutions continually attempt to categorize us, Virginia Woolf (and, by extension, Sarah Ruhl) reminds us that we each embody a whole nation of selves: male, female, old, young, conformist, libertine, artist, expert, neophyte, etc. We all contain within us many facets of the human experience that it is impossible to settle on just one. Each self steps forward as the situation demands and recedes when another self is necessary. Orlando embodies for us the dilemma, and the glory, of what it means to be human. The title character grapples with the need for change and the desire to stay in one place, watching ages come and go until faced with the biggest question of all: the present moment. This, I believe, is why Ms. Ruhl ended this play with the absence of an ending. For, as humans in the present moment, we may understand the world at one particular second in time... but what comes next? Virginia Woolf’s novel Orlando was first published in 1928, and it was not until seventy years later that it was adapted for the stage by Sarah Ruhl. Like Woolf’s original, the mode of Ruhl’s version is narrative rather than dramatic. She likens it to Vietnamese Ceo theatre, described by Ron Jenkins as, “You and I will tell each other a story about all of us.” Consequently the chorus features prominently throughout the whole of the play, with individual performers assuming different roles in rapid succession. The play is in five acts, each representing a different century. It starts in the Sixteenth Century: Queen Elizabeth I reigns, and young love blossoms. In the second act we are in the Seventeenth Century, when Orlando travels to Constantinople and changes genders. The Eighteenth Century sees Orlando trying to navigate her new gender, and the fourth act takes us into the Nineteenth Century to address the question of marriage. The Twentieth Century functions as the play’s “present moment” and end. Woolf called Orlando a biography. It is a fantasy on the life of Vita Sackville-West, poet, novelist, and biographer, with whom Woolf conducted a love affair and maintained a long friendship; Sackville-West would sometimes adopt a male persona by the name of Julian. Nigel Nicolson, her son, called the novel “the longest and most charming love letter in literature.” There are many allusions to Sackville-West’s life and family history throughout the play, including connections between Orlando’s family home and her own; Sackville- West, an only child, could not inherit the historic family estate of Knole because only a male descendant could. As one might expect, questions of gender are a feature of the play; the issues are as relevant now as they were when Woolf first wrote Orlando.