It’s been a tough year for the theatre industry. The pandemic and its consequent physical distancing measures have impeded many (if not all) live performances, whose magic cannot quite translate from stage to streaming platform.
But it seems we might have reached a point of return: Belvoir is reopening with the stage adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s seminal essay A Room of One’s Own, starring Anita Hegh and Ella Prince.
Urban Village caught up with the show’s director and co-writer Carissa Licciardello ahead of opening night.
Carissa is no stranger to the Belvoir. She held the position as the Andrew Cameron Fellow while directing two independent shows as part of the Belvoir downstairs 25A program, Extinction of the Learned Response written by Emme Hoy, and The Maids by Jean Genet.
With A Room of One’s Own Carissa ascends to the Belvoir Upstairs stage for the first time.
“It’s such an idiosyncratic space, and with a piece like Room, when you have Anita Hegh reading this incredible text and looking directly into the eyes of the audience, the opportunity to be in that space felt really exciting to me,” said Carissa.
The show was originally planned for March but was swiftly shut down due to Covid-19.
“A lot of theatre artists are finding themselves at home alone and it’s hard to keep up a kind of creative practice when you’re worried about just surviving.”
“The show really functions as a monologue, so in that way we’ve been lucky because there was a lot more we could do online [to rehearse]. But it still feels like most of the great work we do happens when everyone’s in the same room together,” said Carissa.
As opening night draws near the cast and crew are being particularly conscious of their social interactions off stage to avoid any Covid scares.
“Of course theatre in Covid times will be a little different, but theatre has always found its way and it will find its way with masks and social distancing. Artists and audiences together will discover a new and temporary normal for the experience of theatregoing,” Belvoir’s artistic director Eamon Flack said in a recent statement.
Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own offers insight into a kind of political resistance; how commandeering our own space and time can work to change larger systems and structures.
“After this strange period of being isolated from each other and not being able to really gather in spaces together, I hope that the unique experience of theatre is something that more people can access and are excited about being part of again,” said Carissa.
A Room of One’s Own runs at Belvoir Theatre from 10 September to 18 October. Tickets at belvoir.com.au.