Pentameters and sister theatre join forces to tell Woolf’s love story

The first joint production between the two theatres is about to be shown: Vita and Virginia, a dramatisation of the famous love affair of Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville West

When Emma D’Arcy was 15 she met Leonie Scott- Matthews, artistic director of Pentameters theatre. “At that time it was a poetry club and Leonie first held it in the skittle alley in the Freemasons Arms. It was great, there wasn’t a poet worth knowing who hadn’t performed there.”

In 2003 D’Arcy set up her own theatre, in Brighton – a twin theatre for Pentameters, named Iambic Arts.

Now the first joint production between the two theatres is about to be shown: Vita and Virginia, a dramatisation of the famous love affair between Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West. The original script is written by Eileen Atkins, who lived in Camden and the show was first performed in New York 15 years ago by Vanessa Redgrave and Eileen Atkins. “We have made it a drama, rather than going between the two letter writers,” says D’Arcy. “I have always been an ardent fan of all things Bloomsbury and have a massive collection of all the Bloomsbury writers. When Tamar (Karpas who plays Vita) approached me about producing this script, it excited me.”

D’Arcy has teamed up with Scott-Matthews to help embody the love story physically through the set at the Hampstead-based theatre, to bring the letters to life. “They were both from very different places. Woolf had a fairly middle-class life and Vita was aristocratic. Leonie has designed the stage so that these worlds are separate but they occasionally meet.”


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“D’Arcy hopes that, as well as being the first successful guest production from the sister theatre at Pentameters, the show will illuminate the affair and Woolf in a new way for the audience. “It was a relationship moved by absence. There’s a passion that comes through the letters. It is also a different side to Virginia Woolf. You see her in a more human way, through her emotions.”

Vita and Virginia is at Pentameters Theatre on September 6, 7, 8 and 9.

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