Production Guidance for The Handmaid's Tale
Our suggested age guidance for The Handmaid’s Tale is 15+. This production depicts scenes of sexual violence, suicide, death, coercive and controlling behaviour and contains strong language throughout.
This opera depicts a speculative future world that is abusive to women.
There is a constant atmosphere of threat and oppression fitting to the subject matter of Margaret Atwood’s original novel, of which the libretto stays very true.
The story is told through the eyes of a female character and is a story of her survival and resistance in extraordinarily difficult circumstances.
The production has been conceived and rehearsed respecting and supporting the performers and the themes involved.
Throughout the rehearsal process an Intimacy Coordinator has been present to support and inform the development of the production, in order to safeguard everyone in the room as these difficult aspects are broached and vulnerabilities are shown onstage.
Detailed list of topics and scenes within the production
Throughout the opera, there is aggressive and misogynistic language and behaviour, which includes;
- short mention of rape, including gang rape
- use of religion as a form of societal and military control
- enforced prostitution is discussed and portrayed in a non-sexual way
- a short gynaecological examination by a male doctor of a female patient
- there is a depiction of ritualistic sexual intercourse designed to result in forced pregnancy
- there is a scene of 2 deaths by hanging
- a man is attacked and killed by a group of women
- a death by suicide by hanging is discussed and inferred onstage
- there is a scene of a woman giving birth
- there is a discussion of the death of a baby
- a major plot point is the enforced separation of mothers from their children.
Read the opera synopsis
Listen to director Annilese Miskimmon talk about the production