10 March 2023
Mrs Dalloway is considered one of those literary works that heralded a new era of the European novel. Written in 1925, it portrays the sensibility of modern man and the crisis of Western civilisation. Virginia Woolf details a day in a life of a metropolis five years after the end of the First World War that fundamentally shaped both her and her literary characters. Despite the apparent lightness of a hot summer’s day, when Clarissa Dalloway is hosting a party, the reverberations of the war repeatedly interfere with her thoughts, as well as Peter Walsh’s reverie, and Septimus Smith’s overall experience… Smith suffers from a particularly troubling experience of the war that he cannot shake off, and finally decides to commit suicide. This is what the writer initially intended for Clarissa as well, but later changed her mind – it seems that the title character, as Rapa Šuklje succinctly put it her essay published in the Slovenian translation of the novel, is a true creator of harmony and will continue to forge many a bond between people, this being infinitely more difficult than solving a conflict by violence. The condemnation of violence is implicit in Mrs Dalloway, a novel in which Virginia Woolf presented a detailed psychological and sociological study of the aftermath of war. Using an innovative stylistic technique, she introduced powerful images that evoked an unchanging but ever-present past, while at the same time explored the possibility of hope and beauty in a series of vivid descriptions.
In Mrs Dalloway, the award-winning Croatian playwright and dramaturg Tomislav Zajec explores the profound depth of Woolf’s language and enters the play by way of characters, situations and time. His stage adaptation will address many a contradiction of the 1920s as well as of our time, and unfulfilled longings and the eternal search of purpose.
“She would not say of any one in the world now that they were this or were that. She felt very young; at the same time unspeakably aged. She sliced like a knife through everything; at the same time she was outside, looking on.” To enter Mrs Dalloway’s world is to enter complex, multi-layered, sometimes contradictory, but certainly ever-changing relations of a person with oneself, with one’s social and living environment, with major contemporary and historical events, with the progress and regress of the world. Streams of thought and sense-perception are established and get flowing, they take on tributaries and overtones, leap from one to another, find themselves in dead ends or sudden outflows, divide into smaller streams and brooks, or merge into major rivers of glances and touches, until they are lost in the expanding delta of all at once, interwoven into a never-quiescent human society. The novel, nearly 100 years old, is strangely contemporary; the parallels of global catastrophes – wars, pandemics – and their grave consequences, even when they are “officially” over, are complemented by themes such as loneliness which is familiar to us to the point of unbearable pain, the inevitability of ageing and the feeling of being unable to process all the “hyper”-events around us (our view being constantly hijacked by the ever-approaching storm clouds of climate change), while at the same time surrendering to human nature, which can discover, within the most global crises, moments of vanity, generosity, self-confidence, joy, envy, pity, gazing at the small and the big singularities. Based on the poetic language of Tomislav Zajec, we present on stage – amid all the buzzing, ringing, splashing, huffing, flickering, shimmering and constant striving of the world around us – Virginia and Clarissa’s mirror, in which we realize together with them that “it is very, very dangerous to live, even one day” …
 Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf