When Virginia Woolf published her gender-bending, time-traveling novel “Orlando” in 1928, her contemporaries initially put it down as frivolous, a distraction from the more serious work she was writing. And so it seemed doomed for decades to not be considered alongside novels like “To the Lighthouse.” That is until Sally Potter’s 1992 film version with Tilda Swinton revealed the story to be much more than fluff. “Orlando,” in a sparkling new adaptation by playwright Sarah Ruhl, continues the ascension of this work, and it closes Elements Theater Collective’s current season, starting tonight and playing in pop-up in several locations.
“This season our theme has been gender and sexuality,” says director Mary Plant-Thomas, who is marking this production as her last before she moves to San Francisco. “So it was a very explicit choice … But I also see that the play shares other core ideas with our plays, like time travel. I think that’s less a choice and more that we really value choosing new works that are also accessible.”