Love and changing gender roles explored in VU Theatre production

Left to right: Miranda Pepin (Orlando) and Grace Allaman (Chorus) in VU Theatre production of ‘Orlando.’ (Phillip Franck/Vanderbilt University)

Vanderbilt University Theatre will perform Orlando, an adaptation of a 1928 novel by Virginia Woolf, for two weekends starting Feb. 16.

The production, directed by Jessika Malone, a Fred Coe Artist-in-Residence, will be performed in Neely Auditorium at 8 p.m. Feb. 16, 17, 23 and 24. Performances also are scheduled at 2 p.m. Feb. 18 and 7 p.m. Feb. 21.

“As an exploration of gender, love and sexuality, Orlando takes us on a journey of self-discovery and self-reflection applicable even today,” said Malone, who directed VU Theatre’s production of the absurdist comedy Gnit last spring. She earned her M.F.A. in directing from Illinois State University after receiving a bachelor of arts in theatre from Belmont University.

The Vanderbilt production is playwright Sarah Ruhl’s adaptation of Woolf’s story, with the main character living through centuries first as a man and later as a woman.

“Beginning in Elizabethan London, Orlando first learns love under the regal gaze of Queen Elizabeth, but is soon wooed by the graceful yet masculine Princess Sasha of Russia,” said Julie Jones, the production’s dramaturg and a senior who is majoring in international development and social change.

“After many heartbreaks and false romances, Orlando escapes to Constantinople, where he awakes as a woman in the 18th century. Orlando returns to London, again struggling with deceitful archdukes before falling in love with a sailor, entering the 20th century, and finally finishing her epic poem.”

Miranda Pepin, also a senior in the College of Arts and Science, plays Orlando. She is majoring in physics with minors in theatre and scientific computing. Pepin performed in the Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s signature program, Shakespeare in the Park, last summer. Other Orlando cast members include Grace Allaman, Mar Battistella, Annie Bradford, William Cummings, Sara Ernst, Colleen Guerry, Koryn Guile, Lauren Hurley, McKenzie Marshall, Lexi Perez, Raven Thompson and Josh van der Eerden.

Phillip Franck, associate professor of theatre, is the set/lighting/audio designer, while Alexandra Sargent-Capps, senior lecturer in theatre, created the costumes. Matthew Stratton, senior lecturer in theatre, is Orlando’s technical director.

General admission for Orlando is $10. There are reduced prices for students. Reserve tickets here, or pick them up at the Sarratt Box Office.