Helen Edmundson’s adaptation of The Mill on the Floss to receive Australian première this July

George Eliot’s 1860 novel is to receive the theatre treatment this winter, with an adaptation by Helen Edmundson set to première at St Kilda’s Theatre Works from July 28th.

Presented by OpticNerve, and directed by company founder Tanya Gerstle, The Mill on the Floss follows the story of Maggie Tulliver, a young woman stifled by the restrictions of her gender in a provincial English town. Drawing inspiration from both the written text and author George Eliot’s (otherwise known as Mary Ann Evans) own struggles against the Victorian period’s gender norms, the production will highlight the way in which women, both then and now, are shaped by circumstances outside their control, exploring the limitations enforced upon an entire gender by a patriarchal society.

“I had an instinctual response to The Mill on the Floss as dramatic material. I could delve deeply into the female psyche to tell a story of the dispossessed and I ‘smelt’ the potential for a delicious collision between content and form,” says Gerstle. “The women of this time are not only held in by corsets but by social convention and exclusion from opportunity. Remarkably their struggle is still that of every woman in our contemporary ‘third world’ and many of those in the ‘first’. Patriarchy is alive and well. Theatrical outrage is an ever timely, ever-valid response.”

As part of the show’s residency, OpticNerve will also be offering a series of workshops, for both artists and the general public.

Over a series of five weekly workshops, Behind Closed Doors will offer the theatre-going public an insight into the creation of the production, from rehearsals to opening night. Invited to attend performances and Q&A sessions, this is a unique opportunity to see how the OpticNerve team works.

For artists and performers, Gerstle and the company will be available for two workshops, Foundation Pulse and Directing Text with the Physical Actor.


The Mill on the Floss opens at Theatre Works, St. Kilda, on July 28th and will run through until August 13th.
For more information on the production and the workshops, or to buy tickets, visit the Theatre Works website.


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Jodie Sloan

Living, writing, and reading in Brisbane/Meanjin. Likes spooky books, strong cocktails, and pro-wrestling.