Vanessa and Virginia - A Play

Lead Research Organisation: Bath Spa University
Department Name: Sch of English and Creative Studies


The debut play Vanessa and Virginia by Elizabeth Wright based on the novel by Susan Sellers concentrates on the relationship between the modernist writer Virginia Woolf and her post-impressionist artist sister, Vanessa Bell. It is a dreamlike tale of tortured talent, sibling conflict, domestic discord, disappointed love affairs, and emotional despair, laced with artistic triumph and humour. The play is being directed and produced by the Enterprise partner, Emma Gersch of ProActive Prodcutions as a project which will give an opportunity to a recent graduate actress from Bath Spa University and as a chance to create a liaison between ProActive Productions and the playwright Dr Elizabeth Wright from Bath Spa University. Vanessa and Virginia offers an exciting challenge to the graduate actress playing one of the eponymous roles, as she must portray Virginia Woolf from childhood to old age. The part requires a massive emotional range and the actress must make sense of a relationship that was intensely, often obsessively, loving, but at the same time bitterly jealous. The play is being toured to a wide range of venues from theatres to farmhouses, from stately homes to academic conferences where it will be presented in conjunction with academic papers on Woolf and adaptation. The play gives the writer/academic, graduate actress and enterprise partner, ProActive Productions, the opportunity to collaborate on a brand new play. The project also helps to forge wider collaborations between ProActive Productions and the Cambridge University composer Jeremy Thurlow, who will be writing an original score, as well as students from ArtsWork Media who have been commissioned to design a moving image set and two further graduates of Bath Spa University have been taken on as technical staff. The collaborative nature of this project makes it an exciting enterprise. It is assisting the early career progress of a young actress; it is offering the chance for a new creative relationship between Bath Spa University, Cambridge University and a London-based production company. The play also benefits the general public who will be exposed to a unique theatrical experience which uses visual moving image art inspired by Vanessa Bell’s paintings as a backdrop, an original score, a brand new play and raw theatre talent, they will also be intrigued to find out more about the life and works of these very gifted sisters.


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Title Vanessa and Virginia 
Description London run at The Riverside Studios in Hammersmith 26th March to 14th April 2013. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2013 
Impact The performance was open to the general public - audience size 1000 - 5000 people 
Title Vanessa and Virginia 
Description Publication of play script 
Type Of Art Creative Writing 
Year Produced 2013 
Impact The play has now been released as a publication to the general public 
Description 1. Production of play 'Vanessa and Virginia'.

2. Training of recent graduate actress in touring theatre production.

3. Impact on public through the production and post-show talks.

4. Conference papers given on good script writing and theatrical practice.

5. Building of collaborations between performers, theatre company, designers, composers and writers.

6. The play is being used as a case study on the Adaptations module in the English Department and the Performing Arts programmes at Bath Spa.
Exploitation Route The play was performed to the general public and open talks were also given to illuminate the process of stage production and the lives of the Bloomsbury Group.
Sectors Creative Economy,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism

Description Collaboration with Moving Stories Theatre Company, Dr Jeremy Thurlow and Prof. Susan Sellers 
Organisation Moving Stories Theatre Company
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The production of 'Vanessa and Virginia' led to a wide collaboration with the new theatre company Moving Stories (, it also led to collaborations with the composer Dr Jeremy Thurlow, Cambridge University (, the author of the book, Prof. Susan Sellers (, and freelance theatre designer Kate Unwin (
Collaborator Contribution The development of the play was influenced by the author Susan Sellers, who was also involved in the performances of the play by the Moving Stories theatre company. Music for the production was composed by Dr Thurlow.
Impact A trailer and a film clip can be found at the URL: The play has now been published: ISBN-10: 0957526628
Start Year 2010