By Tyler Ody
George Sand’s Gabriel, in a new version by Clare Bayley, directed by Eleanor Warr, is
presented at the Master’s Garden, University College, Oxford from Thursday 26 to
Saturday 28 May by Oxford Playhouse, the Cameron Macintosh Drama Fund and
University College, Oxford.
Gabriel: swordsman, scholar, poet – the perfect Renaissance prince – is told on their 18th
birthday that they are, in fact, a woman…
Queer literary icon and ‘notorious woman’ George Sand was the highest paid writer in
France in her day. This radical tale of a young person navigating the gender binary was
censored by Victorian audiences and has never before been professionally produced in the
Clare Bayley (The Enchantment, National Theatre) brings this pioneering play roaring into
the present, exploring the cost of challenging the basis of a patriarchal society that values
men over women. Bayley was Visitor in the Creative Arts at University College, Oxford in
2020-21 and currently leads Oxford Playhouse's Writers' Attachment Programme, Playhouse
The play will be performed by a student cast from the University of Oxford, working with a
professional creative team, through a mentoring scheme.
Writer, Clare Bayley commented:
“The pandemic hit students hard, preventing them from participating in and experiencing
theatre arts as they normally would. We wanted to give students 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, Eleanor Warr added:
“Gabriel is a story about a young person determined to define who they want to be against
all odds. It’s a play written ahead of its time and censored by Victorian audiences. Following
the disruption of the pandemic, we wanted to create an opportunity for students, particularly
those who identify with Gabriel’s story, to come together, create and collaborate with
exceptional theatre professionals. I’m thrilled to be bringing together this unique company to
present Clare Bayley’s radical and joyful new version of Gabriel and to share the play with
audiences for the first time.”
Dan Gilbert, Oxford Playhouse Artistic Coordinator commented:
“Oxford Playhouse has a long history of supporting University of Oxford students across our
mainstage, Burton Taylor Studio, digital stage and beyond, nurturing the next generation of
actors, directors, designers, technicians and other theatre professionals. This production of
George Sands' Gabriel continues that relationship and deepens it, as it crosses-over with our
Artist Development programme, providing mentoring from a top-drawer artistic team."
On Friday 27 May there will be a post-show discussion on Queer dramaturgies with Dr Jack
Parlett (University College, Oxford), Amy Terry and Jessi Lee Clayton.
On Saturday 28 May at 4.30pm there will be a post-show discussion on George Sand with Dr
Caroline Warman (Jesus College, Oxford), Clare Bayley and Eleanor Warr.
There is also a range of free workshops being run for Oxford University students including
Clare Bayley on Playwriting, EM Parry on Theatre Design, Jessi Clayton and Amy Terry
Tickets for Gabriel start at £5 and are available from the Box Office on 01865 305 305, or
can be booked online at www.oxfordplayhouse.com