What’s the Jane Austen News this week?
Pride and Prejudice Comes to Bath
This week in Bath we had the cast of Regent’s Park Theatre’s touring production of Pride and Prejudice on stage at the Theatre Royal, and we were lucky enough to be able to ask Ben Dilloway who plays Mr Darcy a few questions about performing in the city.
JAC: What has been the highlight of embarking on this tour during the 200th Anniversary year so far?
Ben: Bath has to be a highlight. The words of the play flow so easily in such a place and it feels great to have the Jane Austen Centre just around the corner, especially on such an important anniversary year.
JAC: Have you had to fight off many Mr Darcy fans?
Ben: Not as yet! Luckily the Austen crowds are utterly distinguished and keep all extremities of emotion firmly under their bonnets.
JAC: How does it feel to be performing in Bath, considering its connection to Jane Austen? Has the cast felt a greater sense of connection with her while staying here?
Ben: I would say so, with such a city, steeped in history, its almost second nature to speak these words and adhere to the otherwise seemingly dated social norms.
JAC: How does adapting Pride and Prejudice for the stage add to the story and its themes?
Ben: It’s a real challenge to fit such a huge amount of information from the book into a mere two hours and thirty minutes. It’s certainly added to the energy of everyone’s desires.
JAC: Why do you feel Jane’s work is still important and relevant today?
Ben: If anything it is more modern than old. It talks of timeless things such as love, and debunks the trivial social expectations of the time.
JAC: Well said. Thanks Ben!
New Jane Austen Statue Planned
A maquette (a wax or clay model from which a work is elaborated) for a new statue of Jane Austen has been unveiled. The maquette is about two thirds the size of the £100,000 life-sized bronze sculpture which is to be placed in Basingstoke town centre in July to mark the bicentenary of the author’s death.
We’re looking forward to seeing the final work and having a look at what similarities the statue has with our own Jane Austen – a waxwork completed by an FBI-trained forensic artist and her award-winning, internationally renowned team in 2014.
The maquette has been made by sculptor Adam Roud who said that he wanted his vision of Jane to have “poise and dynamism”.
She is walking in the square and someone has just said ‘good morning Jane’. She was a real person with her own character and hopefully I can get across she was a headstrong woman of her time, but is relevant to us today because of her novels.
A Jane Austen Wedding
Asides from the setting, Austen references and influences abounded during the day. The soles of Lisa’s shoes were decorated with quotes, one of which was from Persuasion (the other was from Jane Eyre (their other favourite Jane)). Lisa’s bride bouquet was created from pages of Persuasion (the copy was already battered and frayed so it was thought a noble cause rather than sacrilegious destruction!) with Chapter 23 prominent.
Jane 200 Events in Winchester
This is a huge year for Austen fans, and we’re keen at the Jane Austen News to let you know about all that’s going on around the UK in 2017 to mark the 200th anniversary of Austen’s death. This week we have news from Hampshire and their upcoming events.
Firstly, The Hampshire Cultural Trust has put together a series of commemorative events which will be going on at times throughout the year, including guided walks, talks, writing competitions and performances. More specifically, in March award-winning comedy duo Lip Service will be performing their farcical spin called Mr Darcy Loses the Plot, at the Theatre Royal in Winchester.
There will also be The Mysterious Miss Austen; a travelling exhibition opening at The Gallery in Winchester Discovery Centre on 13 May. It features many of Austen’s personal correspondence and first-edition novels, as well as a collection of five portraits on loan from the National Portrait Gallery and private collectors.
Then finally, a year-long feature will be the Rain Jane Trail, which we mentioned in last week’s Jane Austen News.
Jane’s Love of Gardening
Jane Austen…Only With Magic?
When asked to name the 10 books he’d take with him if he was marooned on a desert island, award-winning author Neil Gaiman named Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke as one of his top-ten books, but he made an interesting comment about it which made us think.
“Like Jane Austen’s huge lost fantasy novel about the return of magic to England.”
So we wondered what you thought. Have you read Jane Austen’s novels and also read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell? What did you think? If Jane wrote a fantasy novel could you imagine it being similar?
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