We’ve had a busy few days, Omni-fans. You may know that this week we have been working on the R&D and work-in-progress performance of OR/AND. Our 2019 production inspired by Virginia Woolfe‘s Orlando is produced by us, directed by our Artistic Director Marie McCarthy and supported by Stonewall.
We grilled Kaiya Stone, one of our brilliant collaborators taking part this week, on taking part in the project.
OMNIBUS THEATRE: When did you first read Orlando? What was your immediate response?
KAIYA STONE: I read Orlando when I was 20. It was at a time when I had begun to really question my own sexuality and gender. Orlando was the perfect antidote to a world which was demanding labels or explanations from me. It gave me this broad canvas on which to see myself constantly changing with limitless potential of who I could be.
OT: What’s your favourite quote from Orlando?
KS: “Was not writing poetry a secret transaction, a voice answering a voice?”
“He called her a melon, a pineapple, an olive tree, an emerald and a fox in the snow, all in the space of three seconds – he did not know if he had heard her, tasted her, seen her or all three together.”
OT: Why is it important to re-tell Orlando in 2018?
KS: Orlando is a story which can say much about our lives today. Taking inspiration from the novel allows us to capture some the fantastical plot and exquisite writing. However, there is also a limit to the original – there are some questionable elements of the story and we should explore those too. So much of discussion around gender in the media focuses on it as a modern phenomenon when actually people have been defying binaries for a long time, as we see in Orlando.
OT: If you could be any character from Orlando, who would you be?
KS: I think I’d have great fun as a Russian Princess breaking hearts and kissing sailors. But I’m not sure I have the skills for the graceful skating.
OT: If you could live in any era of London that is showcased in Orlando, which would it be?
KS: The frozen Thames is an image that has stayed with me ever since I read the book. Having moved to London 2 years ago, I still think about that scene and that winter every time I walk over the river or sit on Southbank.
OT: Why should someone read Orlando?
KS: Orlando is an epic. It spans so much time and even more thematically but ultimately it is a meditation on the constant metamorphosis of life. We are so lucky to have this brief time on earth and Orlando captures the breadth of possibility for us all. Woolf explored the milestones of human existence – love, loss, death, art, nature and most importantly of all – change.