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'THE HANDMAID'S TALE' - ENGLISH NATIONAL OPERA
  • THE HANDMAID'S TALE
    English National Opera education programme in inner city schools. (2004) Composer Poul Ruders’ opera ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, based on the dystopian novel by Margaret Atwood, explored the world of a futuristic fictional America known as Gilead where the religious right has taken over. The central character Kate is captured after a failed escape from Gilead and is sentenced to become a Handmaid. The job of a Handmaid is to bear the children of the man to whom she is assigned. The protagonist has no identity. She is forced to dress in red and is watched on camera throughout the day and night. She has no bank account or personal freedom. The opera explores themes to do with the role of women in society, indoctrination from the extreme right, loss of identity and the notion of a world without free will where an elite group control and manipulate how society works.
  • GOALS & OBJECTIVES
    Working with a group of young adults from inner city London schools, writer Margaret Atwood, director Lou Stein and composer Deirdre Gribbin used key themes explored in the narrative to promote discussion and to create a series of opera scenes representing the participants, reactions to this dystopian world.
  • OUTCOMES
    The provocative nature of this work encouraged debate and heated exchange between participants. Discussions about what freedom means, about human nature, power and the rights of individuals formed the backbone to a series of devised opera scenes. Participants readily responded to personal input from the author and developed aspects of the characters from Atwood’s novel into their own stories.
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