"Do you know what you're having yet? Boy or girl?"

This is likely to have been the first question anyone ever asked about you.


"It's a boy!"

"It's a girl!"

So ... which box did your doctors tick?

Femininity & Maleness

What do these words say to us? Is it the same thing for each of us? Have these words always represented the same thing, their meaning passing through us with the unyielding predictability of a Swiss clock? Or might those words bend, distort and spiral around us as we dance from one era to the next?

Public and Schools audiences followed Orlando, Virginia Woolf and Sally Potter through time to ask the questions: what have we been? And ... what are we now?

Clay & Diamonds, the British Film Institute, Fourth Monkey Actor Training Company, and National Trust, with funding from Wellcome Trust and Arts Council England, present ‘Orlando: The Queer Element’. This live cinema event was inspired by Virginia Woolf’s novel Orlando and its 1992 film adaptation. Time travelling audiences wound along Orlando’s journey through gender. As it unfurled across history, we explored the instability that abounds in those mysteries: 'sex' and 'gender'.

Through theatre, film, fine art and insights from the worlds of fashion, endocrinology, history of sexuality and genetics, we dug around and played with what it means when we call ourselves ‘woman’, ‘man’ and those spaces in between.

This show featured in the National Trust Prejudice & Pride theme and a scratch performance was given at BFI Flare 2017. 

The performance company train at Fourth Monkey Training Company while students from the Masters in Design at the Royal College of Art contributed original art films examining the question: who is Orlando in 2017?

Click below for more information on the schools performances at Hanbury Hall and Knole.




Producer George Macpherson

Writer Andrew Dawson

Director Simone Coxall

Co-Producer Mark Reid (BFI Education)

Assistant Director Sarah Griffin

Designer Zahra Mansouri

Company Stage Manager Ali Graham

Deputy Stage Manager Emily Milne

Assistant Stage Manager Becky Peskett

Design Assistant Beckie Rayner

Fourth Monkey Support Steve Green and Abby Gorton

Historian Dr Jana Funke

Cast Fourth Monkey Training Company, Year 2 Rep



BFI Flare

BFI Flare Producers Emilie Arnold and Tricia Tuttle

Assistant Director/Peter Goodfellow Robert Beck

Orlando Robyn Holdaway

Orlando Molly Ward

Jonathan Swift Ed Zephyr

Joseph Addison Ian McCurrach

Nettie Stevens Sarah Griffin

Designer Zahra Mansouri

Debate Chair Dr Sophie Mayer

History of Sexuality Dr Jana Funke 

Fertility Professor Allan Pacey

Neuropsychology Dr Qazi Rahman



Transgender Consultants Gendered Intelligence

Genetics Professor Dave Hornby

Endocrinology Professor John Wass

Graphic Design Tom Gudgeon

Huge thanks to our funders and partners for their support in making this work possible.