Volume 95, Issue 17

Friday, September 28, 2001
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Women share A Room of One's Own

Typhoid Mary better than the disease

Shits and Giggles

Gazette Comix

Women share A Room of One's Own

By Antonio Tan
Gazette Writer

"I would like to go on" is something Kelli Fox doesn't usually say.

Last season however, that quickly changed while Fox was understudying Pamela Rabe as Virginia Woolf in the Shaw Festival's acclaimed production of A Room of One's Own.

For the Vancouver-born actor, understudying is a rare thing. She is one of the fastest-rising figures on the Canadian theatre scene.

Since moving east in 1994, Fox has been playing leading roles at the renowned Shaw Festival, including the title role in George Bernard Shaw's Major Barbara and as Violet in this season's hit, The Return of the Prodigal.

Currently, Fox is returning to A Room of One's Own – this time in the lead role – in the Shaw Festival's touring version, kicking off a nationwide tour Saturday night at Althouse College Auditorium.

Fox plays the late, great literary icon, Virginia Woolf in British playwright Patrick Garland's dramatization of the infamous Woolf lecture on women and fiction.

The lecture, addressed to female students at Cambridge University's Girton College in 1928, contended that a woman needs two preconditions to write fiction: money and a room of one's own in which to work.

To prepare for the monumental role, Fox's research included reading both biographies of people associated with Woolf and texts by each of the female writers mentioned in the play.

When Fox discovered Woolf had not been a great speaker, she began to view her portrayal as "a kind of conduit for Woolf's ideas.

"[The play] challenges young women to take their own place in the world. There's a challenge inherent in the piece for young women of [Woolf's] generation to do as [Virginia Woolf] did – not to fight against some vague enemy that might be called 'man' or to fight against society – to simply stand and say 'I have a voice and I intend to use it,'" Fox explains.

What makes A Room of One's Own even more compelling is how relevant it is today, perhaps even more so than when it was first performed in the 1920s.

"It's even more important today because now we're almost 100 years further. We now have a generation of young women who have such a habit of freedom, they assume it's a divine right," Fox says.

"She doesn't want [women] to forget that just because they've gotten themselves into colleges and see a future for themselves, they have that ability because women four generations [ago] fought and made tiny, tiny steps. That is what brought them to a place where they're now able to get themselves an education and become scientists, archaeologists or writers," she explains.

"It's important for young women to remember they have that freedom as the result of centuries' long struggles and that they have ancestors who have fought hard for them to have the rights they now have."

Brescia College presents A Room of One's Own at Althouse College Auditorium (1137 Western Road) on Saturday, Sept. 29 at 8 p.m.. 

For tickets, call Kim Willis-More at 519-432-8353 ext. 213. 

Prices are $30 and $18 for students.

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department:

Copyright The Gazette 2001