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Gabriel in the Garden

illustration of a pink man and woman with faces mergedThis year sees the return to Oxford of Clare Bayley, award-winning playwright, scriptwriter, short-story writer and Univ’s Visitor in the Creative Arts 2020-21.

Clare is back to continue work on her new version of George Sand’s 1839 play, Gabriel, never professionally performed because it was so ahead of its time and too radical in its view of gender politics for 19th century tastes.

Whilst last year’s intended full production was scaled back due to COVID restrictions to a site-specific promenade performance directed by Nina Lewis (2019, English), 2022 sees the full play performed as this year’s Garden Play on 26, 27 and 28 May 2022, with additional support from Oxford Playhouse and the Cameron Macintosh Foundation. The play will be performed by a student cast working with a professional creative team, who are mentoring student counterparts from across the University.

Clare Bayley

Clare Bayley, Visitor in the Creative Arts 2020-21

Clare says: “The pandemic has hit students hard, preventing them from participating in and experiencing theatre arts as they normally would. I wanted to give them an opportunity to work with professionals to make up for some of the missed opportunities of the past two years. I hope it will enable them to gain a valuable and inspiring insight into working in the creative arts. And I’m sure it will result in an exciting, ground-breaking theatrical production.”

Director Ellie Warr (Oxford Playhouse, RSC) will work with Univ’s original director Nina Lewis and Ishmael Levy (2020, Classics), whilst dramaturgs Amy Terry and Jessi Clayton will work with Amy Nichols (2019, History) and designer EM Parry (Shakespeare’s Globe, Northern Broadsides) will work with a student design team from the Ruskin School of Art.

The dramaturgs, designer and writer will run free masterclasses open to all students and young people (aged 16-24) on 6, 13 and 30 May from 4-6pm at Oxford Playhouse.

There will be a post-show discussion on Friday 27 May with Dr Jack Parlett (Univ Junior Research Fellow in English), Jessi Clayton and Amy Terry talking about Queer narratives.

Tickets for Gabriel will be available through the Oxford Playhouse website.

About Gabriel
Gabriel: swordsman, scholar, poet – the perfect Renaissance prince – is told on his 18th birthday that they are, in fact, a woman.

Written by queer literary icon and “notorious woman” George Sand (the highest paid writer in France in her day) Gabriel is radical tale of a young person navigating the gender binary was censored by Victorian audiences and has never been professionally produced in the UK. Clare Bayley’s production brings this pioneering play roaring into the present, exploring the cost of challenging the basis of a patriarchal society that values men over women.

Gabriel at Univ 2021

Published: 6 April 2022

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