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‘Why Virginia Woolf?’ Uzma Hameed on Dramaturgy and Wayne McGregor’s Woolf Works

9 January 2019 | 5.30pm – 7pm

GH 109, White City


Ken Hollings talks with director and writer Uzma Hameed on her approaches to interpretation and her role as dramaturg for Wayne McGregor’s Woolf Works with the Royal Ballet. 

‘When Woolf Works was announced back in 2014', Hameed wrote of this groundbreaking work, ‘a question that many people in the dance world seemed to be asking was: "why Virginia Woolf?" Why would a choreographer like Wayne McGregor, whose work is more often associated with futuristic technologies and emerging developments in neuroscience, choose the novels of an early twentieth-century literary heavyweight as inspiration for a new full-length ballet? But for McGregor and myself, immersed as we were in her writings, the really astonishing question was: "why hasn’t it been done before?"'

Woolf Works draws on three of Virginia Woolf’s novels – Mrs Dalloway, Orlando and The Waves – as well as extracts from of her autobiographical writings. Hameed will talk on how text can be interpreted and reworked visually in order to discover and communicate its inner world. 

Hameed graduated from the University of Cambridge with a first in modern and medieval languages, and went on to train in classical Indian music and dance. In 1997 she founded the Big Picture Company, an innovative theatre company combining new writing with choreography and film. Hameed was Associate Director at Derby Playhouse 2002–5. She has directed for Kali Theatre, led projects at the National Theatre Studio. Hameed made her Royal Ballet debut in 2015 with Woolf Works, and has since returned as dramaturg for Wayne McGregor’s ballets Obsidian Tear and Multiverse.

This event has been organised by the Visual Communication Programme in the School of Communication. Please contact Debbie Cook for more information.


  • Ken Hollings

  • Uzma Hameed