This week, Orlando dramaturg Ilia Campbell shares her thoughts and ruminations on Sarah Ruhl’s adaptation of this Virginia Woolf masterpiece:
One of the reasons I love Orlando is the way in which the piece centers on Orlando’s search for identity throughout the narrative. Orlando struggles with feelings of depression, listlessness, and anxiety throughout the play, and that really resonates with me — and I hope it speaks to our audience members as well.
The fantastic, epic nature of Orlando’s centuries-long experience is not overshadowed by those feelings of alienation, and, moreover, the people in Orlando’s life do not try to change those feelings, or change Orlando. Instead, Orlando’s friends and lovers treat Orlando’s depressive moods as just that: moods.
Also important to remember — both in the play and when talking to those who are affected by such mental health struggles in real life — is that thoughts and feelings do not define a person. Orlando is much more than any one word or phrase can describe, defying classification or categorization. Throughout the play, Orlando searches for a sense of self, questioning personal identity and seeking out a role to play in society.
The exploration of mental health and gender are what makes this play — and, perhaps even more so, this production — a wonderful, multidimensional experience. It helps us to remember and contemplate that we are so much more, and that ‘little ship will rise again out of the great blue sea.’
Ilia Campbell is a second-year graduate assistant in props. She earned her BA in Theatre Production with a minor in History at Francis Marion University in Florence, South Carolina. Ilia has worked as props master in several productions both at the university level and beyond. Some of her favorite credits include: Horn in the West (Prop Master) in Boone, North Carolina and Rocketman (Prop Master) at Francis Marion University. This is Ilia’s first experience working as a production dramaturg and she has enjoyed the process very much. Ilia is looking towards the future and is hoping to expand her tool box to include more dramaturgy.