What a wonderful evening! Compliments of Nancy, my wonderful friend and writing buddy, I sat in on the dress rehearsal of a new local production of Vita and Virginia, a play by Eileen Atkins. It’s being mounted by Luna Stage, a local theatre group — and it was terrific! Far better than the show I saw some years ago in Manhattan. What amazing talent abounds: Writers, actresses and actors, directors — there are so many creative people with stories to tell and gifts to share.
Vita and Virginia is adapted from the correspondence of the great writer Virginia Woolf and her intimate friend, Vita Sackville-West. The entire show consists of two women talking; the only stage props are two desks piled with books and pens, a few chairs, and shawls. And yet nothing more is needed to conjure up a complex and fascinating friendship — and a bygone world.
Letter writing: what a lost art it is! Listening to the words Virginia and Vita wrote each other come alive on stage made me realize how much we’ve lost in the ways we communicate today. How can an email compare with a letter written by hand with pen and ink and delivered via the post? I’ve tried to remember the last time I received a real, honest-to-goodness letter from someone. And you know what? I’m not sure.
But it’s surely no accident that Virginia Woolf was not just a gifted novelist and critic, but also a gifted composer of letters. Finding ways to be witty and amusing, to recreate one’s day for someone else, to describe the people one met and the places one visited — all of this has to be superb training for the writer’s eye and ear.
I wonder if writing a letter about one of my characters to another character would reveal anything of interest? I think I’m going to try it and find out. For more inspiration and festive ideas about writing letters and postcards, be sure to visit this wonderful site: Vivasnailmail.com. And write on!