The Handmaid’s Tale: An Interview with Chris Garrard

An interview with composer Chris Garrard

The Oxford Culture Review

Chris Garrard is a composer currently working in Oxford; his new chamber opera, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, based on Margaret Atwood’s best-selling novel of the same name, is being premiered later this month. I spoke to him about the creative process behind the project.


For anyone who’s not read the book, what’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale‘ about?

I don’t want to give away too much, but basically it’s about a fictitious society set somewhere in the future. They’ve redesigned the whole of society based around a short chunk of the New Testament, while using various parts of the Old Testament in a weird fundamentalist way… Their underlying principle is [to] divide people into different social groups with very specific roles, one of which is the Handmaid. They are effectively surrogate mothers and are very much objectified. There are allusions as to why this has to be the case; perhaps to repopulate society…

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