Orlando: The Queer Element at BFI Flare

Molly Alice (left) and Robyn Holdaway (right) playing twin Orlandos

Molly Alice (left) and Robyn Holdaway (right) playing twin Orlandos

With an exciting announcement around the corner, now is a great time to look back at the performance of Orlando: The Queer Element we brought to BFI Flare on 24th March.

Sarah Griffin playing Nettie Stevens

Sarah Griffin playing Nettie Stevens

Huge thanks to our audience for getting stuck in, especially those who were surprised to come to BFI Southbank and find early 20th century biologist Nettie Stevens sending them off to search a swamp in Florida for alligators eggs...

Ian McCurrach (left) as Joseph Addison and Ed Zephyr (right) as Jonathan Swift

Ian McCurrach (left) as Joseph Addison and Ed Zephyr (right) as Jonathan Swift

An altercation with Jonathan Swift and Joseph Addison (devilishly performed by Ed Zephyr and Ian McCurrach) saw audience members hoisted into a bustle and corset to help Nettie escape these men. Nettie then introduced us to the X & Y chromosome only for Robert Beck's nu-romantic Peter Goodfellow to delight in the infinitesimal scale of the human body. Audiences snipped the SRY gene off the Y chromosome (imagine a 3 metre long genome, split into 46 chromosomes and then that one chromosome split into 1/20,000 to isolate a single gene). This SRY gene initiates the developmental cascade that differentiates biological male from biological female.

Our playful Orlandos spun a magical story through Woolf, Dr Jana Funke, Professor Allan Pacey and Dr Qazi Rahman that was then further enchanted by Sally Potter's stunning 1992 film.

The show was capped by a discussion between our researchers, chaired by the inimitable Sophie Mayer.

Our huge thanks to BFI and Wellcome Trust for their support of this work.

"The session today brought science and humanity together, not confrontationally, not forcing it, but in a very natural way" (Audience member)

GEORGE MACPHERSONAPRIL 25, 2017

George Macpherson