That’s right, one week to go and Mrs Bennet isn’t the only one struggling with her ‘nerves’! The rest of the cast and I have been working VERY hard over the past few weeks to bring this Austen classic to life and now we are at the final stages. The set is up, the props are being gathered and scripts are being left behind.
Last week we focused on the epilogue; the letters. This scene has been specifically added to our adaptation by our directors after they were inspired by a performance at the Theatre Royal Bath.
“For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?”
Full of wit, humour and lackadaisical nature, Mr Bennet has to be one the most memorable Austen characters of all time. This week I have been working primarily with Bob (our very own Mr Bennet!) on the last scene between Lizzie and her father. This scene is pretty much the conclusion of the story and moreover it emphasises the close relationship between Mr Bennet and his, lets be honest, favourite daughter. We blocked the scene several times before adding the smaller, yet significant, details to the section.
With only 5 weeks to go, rehearsals are rapidly progressing. We have successfully run Act 1 and Act 2, with the majority of it being off script. Cate, our costume fairy godmother, has been busily making adjustments to our wonderful regency dresses. Adela and Heather continue to direct, produce and choreograph whilst keeping us all in line (and occasionally leading a huge game of musical chairs to wake us all up). As for me, I have been watching Jennifer Ehle, Keira Knightley and re-reading parts of the novel repeatedly to become very well acquainted with Miss Elizabeth Bennet.
With four proposals, three Regency dances, two confrontations with Lady Catherine and one kiss with Mr Darcy, rehearsals are well under way.
It has been 6 weeks since our Pride and Prejudice journey began and oh so much has happened!
Including all of this…
Meet the Bennet sisters!
And when we’re not in regency dress we like to relax with our other favourite cast member, the Athenaeum’s giant bear, aka Mr Darcy’s understudy…
With less than 7 weeks to go before our first performance, rehearsals have been in full swing. .We started by blocking the play whilst we had use of the stage, focusing on projection, space and entrances and exits. From here we rehearsed in the Function room three times a week, looking at the closer details of each scene. So far I have been particularly focusing on my more ‘main’ scenes including the famous first proposal from Mr Darcy… ‘You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you’. Johnathon (Mr Darcy) and I have been working closely on this scene to achieve the maximum emotion that is portrayed. It has been challenging and at times tiring (as I’m in every scene!), yet we are all thoroughly enjoying this exciting journey!
We have all been very busy trying to learn lines…
We even had a competition to see who could take a picture with their tote bag in the most interesting place. I believe Sir William Lucas won when he captured this in Venice!
And how are the Directors feeling so far…
“We are very happy with the progress made so far. The cast are working very hard to get “off book” and their hard work is beginning to show. Behind the scenes things are coming together nicely. Our producer is getting props organised. We have a soundtrack. We have a little over 6 weeks to go and I am feeling confident about the standard of this production. Tickets sales are coming in as people take advantage of the early bird offer.”
Today was the day that every girl dreams of… meeting Mr Darcy. Matthew Macfadyen set the bar pretty high, not to mention Colin Firth coming out of the lake with a soaking wet shirt on… and then of course my favourite line of all ‘My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.’ Just perfection. So it was with no surprise that I was a little, well shocked, to meet my already-happens-to-be-married-with-two-kids-Mr Darcy. That’s not how the story’s meant to go?
Hello again! Yes, as you’ve probably figured out, today was the ‘Meet ‘n’ Greet’ for the cast of the Athenaeum Limelight Players’ Pride and Prejudice (https://www.janeausten.co.uk/austen-mania/ – read my first entry here). A great day was had by all and it was a fantastic opportunity to meet the other members of the cast, discuss plans for the rehearsal process …and eat Pride and Prejudice cake!
Here’s how I got on…
The whole group started with an ice breaker/warm up technique, ‘Zip, Zap, Boing’; a very fun game in which you have to pass the clap or the ‘zip’ around the circle and then various rules get added to make it a simple (although it was quite tough!) but effective method to not only break the ice between new people, but to challenge our reaction times and cues. (This will in time help our reactions and cues on the stage.)
Heather and Adela made the rules more competitive, if anyone hesitated or made a mistake – you were out. We were dropping like flies and unfortunately I didn’t make it to the final 8.
After the boundless laughs we had with this, it was time to cut the Pride and Prejudice cake (cue the excitement!) and then we had the chance to properly meet and talk to one another.
Once the very wonderful ‘Meet n Greet’, which directors Heather and Adela organised, had finished, I got the chance to ask them a few questions …
“WHY PRIDE AND PREJUDICE?”
H: “For me the choice was easy. It is the 200th anniversary of Jane’s death and P&P was always my favourite story. The rags to riches story with a twist. A feisty heroine who in a time of little choice for women, knew her own mind. This story is a reflection on Jane’s own life. A woman who broke from the mould of society”
A: “It’s my favourite of all Jane’s novels with Emma and Persuasion close behind. I have read and re-read everything she has written, and my favourite Darcy is Laurence Olivier whom I saw aged 16 when I did P&P for O level English Lit.”
“WHAT CHALLENGES LIE AHEAD?”
H: “I can’t wait to start this production we have the perfect cast but with a large cast there will also be challenges. Not to mention my first time directing anything!”
A:”My biggest challenge is having Heather say at the end that I was a colleague she enjoyed working with, who gave her every opportunity to learn directing, and a cast that has loved every moment of the process”
That’s all from me, find out next time what went on in our first proper rehearsal!