Love letters then and now | V&V, VAULT Festival, March 2020

VAULT Festival, Leake Street, London SE1 7NN
Tuesday 3rd – Sunday 8th March 2020

V&V tells the iconic love story of literary treasure Virginia Woolf and esteemed socialite Vita Sackville-West, alongside a modern narrative of Lottie from Tunbridge Wells and love cynic Mia. Shortlisted for the Charlie Hartill Theatre Reserve 2019, V&V now makes its debut at VAULT Festival 2020 exploring communication then and now.

Through carefully crafted letters that were anticipated with relish, Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf began an exquisite romance almost a century ago. They conquered each other’s hearts with wit and elegance inked onto a page. Luckily, their husbands didn’t mind.

Today, in the overwhelmingly tangled world of dating apps, Mia and Lottie meet online, flirting through the beam of a phone screen. When an emoji can change not just the tone of the conversation but its entire meaning, reading between the lines becomes a whole new challenge.

Examining the importance of communication in a relationship and how it can fall prey to misinterpretation, the piece interrogates the life-changing impact of technology. The contemporary story explores the sending of messages in the heat of the moment and the regret that can follow. The letters of Vita and Virginia reveal two women engaging in a beautiful but sometimes fraught relationship, as they are frequently physically separated. Hurtful messages sent instantly without thought can become immortalised in a screenshot; messages unsent can haunt a person forever.

Writer and director Misha Pinnington comments, It’s fascinating to explore how communication has changed over time, especially now in our global landscape of technological immediacy. I was lucky enough to hear Juliet Nicholson (descendant of Vita Sackville-West) speak about the physical and epistemological relationship between Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf, which inspired this play. We have two actors who will explore how women communicated romantically both in the early 20th Century and in the modern day. Have we lost the passion that old fashioned letter writing facilitated, or is this new dating app culture equally as romantic?