Sarah Ruhl’s “Orlando”: Gender Fluidity Across Centuries

Sarah Ruhl’s Orlando opens at the University of Iowa on Friday, November 8.

Sarah Ruhl’s Orlando, adapted from the novel by Virginia Woolf, is a poetic dance of identity across centuries. The University of Iowa Department of Theatre Arts brings Orlando to the E.C. Mabie stage November 8 through 15, directed by Erica Vannon.

Orlando is filled with curiosity and discovery—a search for self in one’s relation to their society, their family, their status, their loved ones, their body, and their own mind,” says Vannon. “Sarah Ruhl’s bold adaptation of the play is her own attempt to bring Orlando, a gender rebellious aristocrat, off the page and onto the stage by adding thoughtful narration to Virginia Woolf’s incredible poetry.”

Highlighting the fluidity of attraction and the mutability of gender, this dreamy adaptation from the original 1928 novel by Virginia Woolf is considered “the longest love letter in the history of English letters” from Woolf to her great love, Vita Sackville-West. Ruhl, one of the American theater’s most beloved playwrights, couples her sweeping storytelling with the original, lyrical narration by one of England’s greatest authors to tell an epic story of love.

Performances will take place November 8, 9, 14, 15, 16 at 8 p.m. and November 10 at 2 p.m. in the E.C. Mabie Theatre, UI Theatre Building.

Tickets are available through the Hancher Box Office at (319) 335-1160 or the Hancher website.

For more information about the 2019-2020 University of Iowa Department of Theatre Arts season, visit