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Jane Austen News – Issue 129

The Jane Austen News looks forward to a new dramatisation

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


Emma Starring Emma

A new Audible Original dramatisation of one of Jane Austen’s novels is due out in September. The Jane Austen News looks forward to a new dramatisation

In 2017 Audible released a dramatised production of Jane’s Northanger Abbey featuring, among others, Emma Thompson (Elinor Dashwood and scriptwriter of the 1995 Sense and Sensibility film adaptation) and Eleanor Tomlinson (Demelza in the BBC’s Poldark series) as two of the narrators.

To follow on from this hugely popular release, Audible have once more enlisted Emma Thompson to be the narrator of their new Austen adaptation – that of Emma.

Other cast members include Joanne Froggatt (Anna in Downton Abbey), Morgana Robinson (Pippa Middleton in The Windsors), and Aisling Loftus (Sonya Rostova in War & Peace).

The new Audible production of Emma is due for release on September 4th, and at the Jane Austen News the date is firmly marked on our calendar!

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Joseph Grimaldi: King of Clowns

Joseph Grimaldi
Joseph Grimaldi

Joseph Grimaldi (18 December 1778 – 31 May 1837) was an English actor, comedian and dancer, who became the most popular English entertainer of the Regency era. In the early 1800s, he expanded the role of Clown in the harlequinade that formed part of British pantomimes, notably at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and the Sadler’s Wells and Covent Garden theatres. He became so dominant on the London comic stage that harlequinade clowns became known as “Joey”, and both the nickname and Grimaldi’s whiteface make-up design were, and still are, used by other types of clowns. Grimaldi originated catchphrases such as “Here we are again!”, which continue to feature in modern pantomimes.

Born in London to an entertainer father, Grimaldi began to perform as a child, making his stage debut at Drury Lane in 1780. He became successful at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre the following year; his first major role was as Little Clown in the pantomime The Triumph of Mirth; or, Harlequin’s Wedding in 1781, in which he starred alongside his father. After a brief schooling, he appeared in various low-budget productions and became a sought-after child performer. He took leading parts in Valentine and Orson (1794) and The Talisman; or, Harlequin Made Happy (1796), the latter of which brought him wider recognition.

Towards the end of the 1790s, Grimaldi starred in a pantomime version of Robinson Crusoe, which confirmed his credentials as a key pantomime performer. Many productions followed, but his career at Drury Lane was becoming turbulent, and he left the theatre in 1806. In his new association with the Covent Garden theatre, he appeared at the end of the same year in Harlequin or Mother Goose, which included perhaps his best known portrayal of Clown. Grimaldi’s residencies at Covent Garden and Sadler’s Wells ran simultaneously, and he became known as London’s leading Clown and comic entertainer, enjoying many successes at both theatres. His popularity in London led to a demand for him to appear in provincial theatres throughout England, where he commanded large fees.

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