What’s the Jane Austen News this week?
Pride and Prejudice has been performed many many times on stage by various companies in plenty of different styles. However, on April 21st it enjoyed its premiere as a ballet. Performed by the American Repertory Ballet at McCarter Theatre Centre in Princeton, New Jersey, Pride and Prejudice has been choreographed by the ARB’s Artistic Director Douglas Martin, and the production features ARB dancers performing to live accompaniment by the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of conductor John Devlin.
Douglas Martin, an Austen fan, spent years on this adaptation and it shows in its level of attention to detail. For example, the dancing is set to music by Ignaz Pleyel, a popular composer during Austen’s lifetime who is largely unknown today, and it takes pains to look at the detailed relationship of four of the Bennet sisters, as well as that between Darcy and Lizzy.
According to Martin it’s not a typical ballet either. The choreography echoes that of some of the popular dances of the time, including the minuet, though Martin has adapted a few moves and made them “more balletic.” It also includes quick set and costume changes (some costume changes have to be completed in 20 seconds!) and the action is driven by acting and not just by dances.
At the Jane Austen News we can see how the romance of Pride and Prejudice would recommend itself to becoming a ballet. We just wish we could have been there to see it!
Although it won’t enter general circulation until September this year (just in time for Bath’s Jane Austen Festival!), the official unveiling of the new Jane Austen ten pound note has been announced. It’s due to take place on July the 18th on the anniversary of the date of her death in Winchester Cathedral, where Jane is buried.
Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, said in a statement that “Jane Austen certainly merits a place in the select group of historical figures to appear on our banknotes. Her novels have an enduring and universal appeal and she is recognised as one of the greatest writers in English literature. As Austen joins Adam Smith, Boulton and Watt, and Winston Churchill, our notes will celebrate a diverse range of individuals who have contributed in a wide range of fields.”
Below is a video released by the Bank of England which goes into a bit more detail about their decision to put Jane on the banknote.
We’ve missed them since they’ve been gone, but now Mary Kate Wiles (i.e. Lydia Bennet from the hit Youtube series, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries), has brought her fellow stars Laura Spencer (Jane Bennet), Daniel Gordh (Mr Darcy), and Ashley Clements (Lizzie Bennet), together for a special video celebrating five years since the beginning of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. They had great fun learning and playing the Pride and Prejudice themed card game Marrying Mr Darcy.
As we know a few of you are fans of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, here’s the video for your viewing pleasure!
Usually Jane Austen fans would also identify themselves as voracious readers. Certainly many of the visitors to the Jane Austen Centre also have a passion for other literary greats in addition to Austen, the Bronte sisters being one example. So it might be of interest to readers of the Jane Austen News to know that Jennifer Ehle (a.k.a Lizzy Bennet in the BBC’s 1995 Pride and Prejudice) will soon be on the big screen in a new period production, this time as Vinnie Dickinson in A Quiet Passion; Terence Davies’ masterful new movie about the life of American literary great, Emily Dickinson.
It’s had some wonderful reviews so far. For example, this is a short extract from the review in the L A Times: “The first half of A Quiet Passion, in particular, is a riotous assemblage of drawing-room banter to rival Whit Stillman’s recent adaptation of the Jane Austen comedy Love & Friendship, though the line readings here are more deliberate than effervescent, and even throwaway witticisms prove intimately revealing of character, milieu and circumstance.”
We’ve long been big fans of Jennifer Ehle’s, so we thought you might be too and might like to keep an eye out for this new film which shows Emily Dickinson as a woman tragically ahead of her moment.
Canberra’s Jane Austen Festival is now in its 10th year, and for the third year running it took place at the grand venue of Canberra’s Albert Hall. Organised by husband and wife team John and Aylwen Gardiner-Garden, each year the festival attracts people from around Australia and overseas eager to step back in time.
This year the festival ran from April 21st – April 23rd and featured, as well as (of course) a fair few dances, it also included lectures, games such as proto-croquet and proto-bowls, classes in watercolours, necklace-making, improv theatre with a Regency theme, and bonnet making among the activities on offer.
A big congratulations from all of us here at the Jane Austen Centre for the milestone year, and for doing such a good job of keeping the spirit of Jane alive and well down under.
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