Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Septimus and Clarissa’

Conference organizer Julie Vandivere and student intern Emma Slotterback

Conference organizer Julie Vandivere and student intern Emma Slotterback

I’d never heard of Bloomsburg University before Julie Vandivere volunteered to host the 25th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf at her home institution.

Now word of the charming campus and gracious town in which it is located has spread around the world, due to the way the town and the campus teamed up to embrace Woolf, the conference and each one of its nearly 250 participants from as far away as China.

Small-town charm

Welcome Woolf scholars

Just one of the signs welcoming Woolfians to Bloomsburg.

The town’s website boasts “small-town charm and down-home hospitality.” Those weren’t empty words. The town of 14,000 was blanketed with signs welcoming and directing conference goers. Conference events were spread throughout its perimeters. Community members participated in the events and graciously offered directions, greetings and other help. And high school students from the area’s three high schools, Bloomsburg, Berwick and Southern Columbia, had their own pre-conference panels.

The result? Two hundred and six presenters from 14 countries and five continents had the opportunity to fall in love with small town Bloomsburg, Pa., and its university community.

The play, the party, the exhibit, the readings, the banquet

Here are some highlights of the four-day event, Bloomsburg University’s first of an international stature:

    • A total of 68 events — from panels to roundtables to a printmaking workshop to a trip to Rickett’s Glen State Park for a hike and a picnic — with 206 presenters.
    • A powerful Friday evening performance of Ellen McLaughlin’s Septimus and Clarissa by the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble. The ensemble had just one day to rehearse and they did a masterful job, with McLaughlin playing the role of the adult Clarissa. According to her, 60 percent of the words in the script were Woolf’s and 40 percent were her own.

      BTE Septimus and Clarissa

      On stage with “Septimus and Clarissa”

    • Mrs. Dalloway’s Party, an after-theater lark that allowed theater goers from the conference and the community to don hats and dress-up clothes and meet and mingle with each other as well as the players, the playwright — and conference guests of honor Cecil Woolf, nephew of Leonard and Virginia, and Jean Moorcroft Wilson, biographer, literary critic and wife of Cecil Woolf.
    • A juried exhibition of works on paper titled The Mark on the Wall that presented the work of 47 artists from as far away as Dubai. Their work, inspired by Woolf and her female contemporaries, was chosen from among more than 400. Co-Best of Show Awards went to Erika Lizée and Carolyn Sheehan. Honorable mentions went to Mischa Brown, Chieko Murasugi and Jacqueline Dee Parker. See the full list of exhibitors. View the catalog to see the entire body of work in the exhibition that will be on display at the Gallery at Greenly Center through June 30. A catalog will be available for purchase on Blurb, as of June 9.
    • A memorial to Woolf scholar Professor Jane Marcus that was coordinated by members of the International Virginia Woolf Society and introduced by Erica Delsandro, co-organizer of the conference.
    • A poetry reading by Cynthia Hogue and a reading by Maggie Gee from her novel Virginia Woolf in Manhattan.
    • Saturday evening banquet where Woolf lovers celebrated her work, as well as their comaraderie, and were entertained by a charmingly humorous two-way conversation between Cecil Woolf and his wife Jean Moorcroft Wilson in which Woolf shared memories of Virginia and Leonard Woolf as well as other Bloomsbury Group members, including Bertrand Russell and Duncan Grant. Of course, the Virginia Woolf Players also made an appearance, with a troupe of Woolf scholars reading some of their favorite comical and serious passages from her work.

      Jeanne Moorcroft Wilson and Cecil Woolf

      Jeanne Moorcroft Wilson and Cecil Woolf

    • The introduction of six new books in the Bloomsbury Heritage Series from Cecil Woolf Publishers of London.

The roundtables

    • A roundtable on modernist theory with Celia Marshik, Judith Brown, Allison Pease and Emily Ridge during which the panelists and the audience engaged in a discussion of high and middlebrow modernism and how such studies could do more to include both well-known and lesser known women authors.
    • An introduction to launching a newly proposed journal, Feminist Modernist Studies, edited by Cassandra Laity and Anne Fernald, that will be published twice a year in both print and digital formats and will attempt to expand the modernist literary cannon to include more women by giving them space of their own.

So many panel choices

Each time slot in the conference program included a choice among four or five panels. That made choosing tough, as most times there were two or more panels I wanted to attend. Memorable presentations I attended included:

    • Anne Martin’s presentation on “Village Community and the Coming of War in the Final Novels of Virginia Woolf of and Dorothy L. Sayers,” which made me want to re-read Murder Must Advertise (1933) and Gaudy Night, (1935), as well as The Wimsey Papers.

      Celiese Lypka and Ann Martin

      Celiese Lypka and Ann Martin

    • Patricia Laurence on Woolf and Elizabeth Bowen and her comment on the “porous borders between poetry and prose” as well as the fact that Bowen was an agent for the Ministry of Information during the Great War.
    • Mark Hussey’s paper on Woolf and Rebecca West, in which he coined the term “modernist star system” and shared the fact that the proof version of A Room of One’s Own includes a two-page passage explicitly blaming women for reflecting men back to themselves as larger than they really are. Woolf makes the same point in the final published version but does so in brief. The passage appears after Woolf’s mention of West.
    • Elisa Kay Sparks’ tongue-in-cheek bar graphs on Woolf’s and Georgia O’Keeffe’s use of flowers in their work, with particular attention to – and entertaining visuals of – the calla lily.
    • Maria Aparecida de Oliveira’s fascinating paper on the correspondence between Woolf and Brazilian writer Victoria Ocampo (1893-1979). The two were introduced at Man Ray’s photo exhibit in London in 1934. After her presentation, Maria told me that the two women writers discussed fascism in their late 1930s letters.
    • Leslie Hankins’ slide show of illustrations that accompanied Woolf’s London Scene essays for the British Good Housekeeping, as well as the stories and graphics that surrounded them in the magazine’s layout.
    • Diane Gillespie’s discussion of Woolf’s rejection of novelists who pitched their books to the Hogarth Press, with a focus on Anne Tibble.

      Diane Gillespie

      Diane Gillespie

    • Eleanor McNee’s illumination of Woolf’s animosity towards her two High Anglican cousins, Dorothea and Rosamond Stephen.
    • A panel on “Woolf and the Political,” with Jean Mills advising that when one hears criticism of Woolf’s racism and classicism, one should “consider the diversity of her audience” and Mary Wilson saying we should “consider the servants as the contemporaries” of the writers we study.
    • On that same panel, Ashley Foster presented her original archival research that documents the Bloomsbury Group’s activism in war relief efforts, such as the Quaker relief effort in the Spanish Civil War. Woolf, for example, attended the Spain and Culture event in June 1937 in the Royal Albert Hall. She also sold her manuscript pages of Three Guineas to support relief efforts and lent her name to the fundraising efforts.
    • Emily Hinnov’s interesting comparison of the patriarchal fathers in Woolf’s To the Lighthouse and Katherine Mansfield’s “The Daughters of the Late Colonel.”

      Emily Hinnov

      Emily Hinnov

    • Drew Shannon’s discussion of Woolf’s and Mansfield’s diaries. In his examination of the diaries on microfilm at the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library, he learned that Woolf’s early diaries were more exercise books than traditional diaries, as she edited them greatly. Woolf used composition books for her diary, and beginning in 1920, Woolf consistently added a long rule on the left side of each page. To the left of that rule, she added the day’s date. Poignantly, Shannon found that Woolf had added the rule on each page of the 1941 diary. All of the pages are ruled, even though the pages after her March 28 death are blank. For readers of Mansfield, he recommended Katherine Mansfield Notebooks, complete edition, edited by Margaret Scott.
    • Karen Levenback brought Florence Melian Stawell to our attention, sharing her work as well as her connections to the Bloomsbury Group.
    • Vara Neverow explained sexual dysphoria in West’s Return of the Soldier, Mrs. Dalloway and the controversial Sylvia Townsend Warner’s “A Love Match.”
    • In a panel titled “Spies and Surveillance,” Mark David Kaufman, Judith Allen and Kimberly Engdahl Coates discussed Woolf and her contemporaries as whistleblowers, subversives and victims of surveillance.

      Sierra Altenbach and Cody Smeltz

      Sierra Altenbach and Cody Smeltz

    • Three undergrads from Bloomsbury University – Cody Smeltz, Sierra Altenbach and Ashley Michler — presented thoughtful papers on modernist masculinity and femininity in the work of H.D., Myna Loy, Emily Coleman and others.

Catch the conference photos

Many photos were taken at the conference and shared via Instagram. Here’s where you can view them:

Catch the conference tweets

Tweets about the conference are still coming in. Find them by searching the hashtag #WoolfConf15. The latest one is posted below, along with a tweet about one of the final panels of the conference.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Here are details about the special event planned for tonight at the 25th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf at Bloomsburg University. Get the full program.Mrs. Dalloway's party #WoolfConf15

Mrs. Dalloway's Party 2 #WoolfConf15

Read Full Post »

25th annual conferenceIf you are still sitting on the fence about attending the 25th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, now is the time to jump off that fence, block off June 4-7 on your calendar, and get ready to travel to Bloomsburg, Pa.

The conference, held at Bloomsburg University, is on the theme Virginia Woolf and Her Contemporaries and will feature some real excitement. Here are some highlights now available on the conference website.

More updates will follow, and registration will open soon.

Cecil and Jean are coming to town

Cecil Woolf and Jean Moorcroft Wilson

Cecil Woolf and Jean Moorcroft Wilson

Most exciting of all will be Cecil Woolf as the featured speaker at the Saturday evening  banquet — and the attendance of acclaimed author Jean Moorcroft Wilson. The couple head up Cecil Woolf Publishers of London. Cecil is the nephew of Leonard and Virginia Woolf, and Jean is a well-respected critic and biographer of the World War I poets and the leading authority on Siegfried Sassoon.

Cecil and Jean have not attended a Woolf conference since 2010, so their participation in this year’s event is a long overdue treat, both for young scholars who have never had the opportunity to meet this notable couple and for Woolfians who have been befriended by the pair at previous events. As is customary at Cecil’s talks, he will share stories of his experiences with Virginia and Leonard.

Septimus, Clarissa and Mrs. Dalloway’s Party

Mary Gordon, Rachel Dickstein and Ellen Mclaughlin at a performance of "Septimus and Clarissa" in New York City in October 2011.

Mary Gordon, Rachel Dickstein and Ellen Mclaughlin at a performance of “Septimus and Clarissa” in New York City in October 2011.

A theatrical reading of Septimus and Clarissa with award-winning playwright and author Ellen McClaughlin and the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble is on the schedule. The reading will be followed by Mrs. Dalloway’s Party, giving everyone the opportunity to dress up — or not — in their own duds or the ensemble’s costume collection of hats and scarves.

Poetry and comic fiction readings

Poetry and fiction readings are on the program, with Cynthia Hogue, who has published eight collections of poetry, and Maggie Gee, author of the comic novel that places Woolf in the 21st century, Virginia Woolf in ManhattanVirginia Woolf in Manhattan

From papers to art with a Mark on the Wall

Conference organizers Julie Vandivere and Erica Delsandro have issued a call for papers, and those proposals are due Jan. 24. But a new and exciting twist this year is the call for entries in a juried exhibition of small works on paper that is fittingly titled Mark on the Wall. The entry deadline for those is April 20.

Community members unafraid of Woolf

The conference is also involving local community of all ages. The community is encouraged to form reading groups to read and discuss Woolf novels in advance of the conference.

Organizers are also providing print and multi-media resources to local high school teachers on two of Woolf’s most famous works — A Room of One’s Own (1929) and Mrs. Dalloway (1925) in an effort to get high school students to attend conference presentations and present their own papers. Conference organizers will produce a journal of the best high school and undergraduate papers, and all high school students who present will be able to submit their papers for publication.

Even on a budget

Conference organizers have gone out of their way to make this year’s conference affordable. Registration rates take employment and student status into account, and the registration fee for the four-day event includes six meals. Reasonably woolf_callforentriespriced recently renovated residence hall rooms near the conference site are available, along with other accommodations within the town.

Support the conference

The Bloomsburg conference has several sponsors, including individuals who have donated funds to the Bloomsburg University Foundation to help bring noted speakers to campus and provide travel grants to needy participants. If you would like to make a contribution, you can do so online by donating to the Bloomsburg University Foundation. Just be sure to select “Other” from the designation dropdown menu, and specify “Woolf 2015″ in the field provided.

 

Read Full Post »

In some ways, Virginia Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway is about voices. Voices from the past. Voices from the present. Voices of the novel’s main characters. Voices of those passing by. Voices of war and voices of peace. Sometimes the voices seem to drift. Sometimes they overlap. Sometimes they warm you. Sometimes they stop you cold.

So it is fitting that the stage adaptation of Septimus and Clarissa, running through Saturday at the Baruch Performing Arts Center in New York City, is the product of many voices as well.

The play’s the thing

I was in the front row at last Saturday’s show. And like others who have reviewed the play written by Ellen Mclaughlin, I found myself overwhelmed by the power of Woolf’s words, the way they transformed the stage, and the way the stage adaptation made them ever more luminous and lyrical.

The starkly simple set features a mottled blue floor and wall with the words “Fear no more.”

Like many readers of Woolf, I have read her 1925 stream of consciousness novel multiple times and have written about it as well. So I wouldn’t have thought that a staged adaptation of the novel could keep me spellbound, could make me wonder what might happen next, could bowl me over with its emotional power. But that’s exactly what this production did.

Others have already done an excellent job of reviewing Septimus and Clarissa, commenting on its superb acting; its excellent blend of music, ambient sound and dialogue; its relevant anti-war message; and the way it captures the spirit and meaning of Woolf’s novel.

So I will do something a bit different here. I will talk about how another group of voices — the many voices of the performers, directors, writer and crew — shaped what appeared on the Baruch stage this fall.

The after-show conversation

I learned a bit about the shaping process at an after-show conversation held on stage Saturday evening. It was headlined by best-selling author and Barnard professor of English Mary Gordon. She settled in on stage with Rachel Dickstein, director; McLaughlin, who wrote the script and played the title character; Tommy Schrider, who played Septimus; and Miriam Silverman, who played both Lucrezia and Elizabeth Dalloway.

Mary Gordon, Rachel Dickstein and Ellen Mclaughlin

The shaping process was a long one that involved multiple workshops, with each workshop adding or subtracting things from the production up until the play’s formal opening in September. And everyone involved played a part that went beyond the one acknowledged in the formal program.

The actors, for example, helped work out the choreographed movements they make while voicing Woolf’s lyrical words in song, choreography that changed as the play progressed.

They also collaborated on the set design. When Dickstein brought a batch of large rectangular frames to the set, thinking they might add something interesting to the production, the actors experimented with them until they worked. And in the final production, three of the frames are moved around on stage, almost like dancing partners, to represent a changing array of doors and windows, with people going out and through and around them.

The idea for the moveable staircase itself, the most prominent element in the set design, came from Dickstein and set designer Susan Zeeman Rogers, but the actors suggested ways of using it, as well as other set pieces and props. Actor Schrider, a Septimus of power and emotional force, did improvisations on another staircase before the large black metal staircase became a part of the final set design. The large black metal staircase is a focal point throughout the play, as it serves as a platform for Mrs. Dalloway as hostess and both a battlefield and suicide site for Septimus.

Miriam Silverman and Tommy Schrider among the rose petals that drift over guests during the party scene

The significance of a house within a house

Also on the simply set, stark stage throughout the play are three white wooden houses about four feet high. They are rolled around the set on wheels to symbolize Clarissa’s country home of Bruton as well as the homes she and other characters see along the streets of London.

But one of the three is special, and here is where director Dickstein gives voice to her child self. She recalled encountering an elaborately detailed furnished dollhouse as a young girl, one that she could never afford. It was a memory and an image that stuck in her mind, and she asked set designer Zeeman Rogers to create a more modest version of such a house — Clarissa’s London house — for the play.

The Clarissa Dalloway dollhouse

The interior of this lit-up house, complete with the novel’s characters as free-standing paper dolls, is revealed during the scene that recreates Clarissa’s party. The symbolism of the dollhouse opening up to reveal its interior to the audience just as Clarissa opens her home to her guests has a certain magical charm with subtle but significant meaning.

Links to some reviews of Septimus and Clarissa

Read Full Post »

Like another Woolf blogger I know, I am writing from a room of my own on the Jersey side of the Hudson.

Well, it’s not really my own room. I am sharing it with my husband. And I don’t own it. I am merely renting it for the night.

But we have driven up from Ohio to see Septimus and Clarissa, the stage adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway that is on stage until Oct. 8 at the Baruch Performing Arts Center in New York City.

I will post more about the rave-winning play after we see it tomorrow night. Meanwhile, here is a link to a review written by another Woolfian, Patricia Laurence, Woolf scholar and professor of English at Brooklyn College, the City University of New York:

The Mindscape of Septimus and Clarissa: Ripe Time Adapts Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway in The Brooklyn Rail 

 

Read Full Post »

Septimus and Clarissa finds hypnotic poetry in the ordinary, the solemn, the rapturous and just about everything in between.

So writes the New York Times in its review of the play now on stage until Oct. 8 at the Baruch Performing Arts Center in New York City.

The review also praises the play’s “airtight ensemble,” particularly Tom Nelis and Miriam Silverman; its “shadowy lighting;” and the “series of insightful, often haunting stage pictures” created by its set design.

“Woolf’s miniaturist masterpiece is instantly distilled into a thrilling and richly theatrical image” is yet another glowing phrase from the review.

I’m sold. Like a sweet freak longing for chocolate, my mouth is watering to see that play. If only I didn’t live in Ohio.

Read Full Post »

Septimus and Clarissa, a new stage adaptation of  Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, written by Ellen McLaughlin and directed by Rachel Dickstein, premiered today.

This developmental lab production, which is presented by Ripe Time, is in previews at the Nagelberg Theatre, Baruch Performing Arts Center, 55 Lexington Ave. in New York City.

Playwright Cody Daigle’s new play, William and Judith, adds a new twist to Woolf’s imagined life of Shakespeare’s sister Judith that she shared in A Room of One’s Own. In the play, Daigle has Judith flee to London to escape an arranged marriage. There she links up with her brother, who is suffering from writer’s block.

The play, which premieres Sept. 17 and runs through Oct. 2, explores gender roles and creative identity. It is being staged in Lafayette, Indiana, by AUI/Aura and The Compound.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: