What’s the Jane Austen News this week?
National Library Protests in The UK
There was a protest in London on Saturday (5th November) as authors joined hundreds of members of the public (around 1,800) in the first national demonstration to protect library services. The march was held in response to the string of library closures which have been taking place across the UK over the past five years as the government looked to make cuts to local council spending.
According to research by the House of Commons library service and the BBC, around one in eight council-run libraries has been closed or passed out of the public sector since 2010. In addition to this, total spending by councils on library services fell by a fifth between 2010 and 2015, and other research also showed that a quarter of all library jobs have been done away with since May 2010; 8,000 jobs in total. To help supplement this 15,500 volunteers have been called upon to take their place. Even this is not enough to stop the library erosion.
Alan Gibbons, children’s author and one of the march organisers, had this to say:
Libraries are places of learning and opportunity. They are community hubs in areas where there is no other collective meeting place. They provide advice, books, computers, storytelling, information and education. Any government that allows them to close can’t claim to want a literate society. You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.
Are There Too Many Adaptations?
Vivienne Beddoe writing for the website Books at 60 has broached the subject that perhaps people ought to leave Jane’s characters alone now.
Vivienne explains that, while everyone has their favourite adaptations, she doesn’t see why the original works need changing anymore. One series which she uses to illustrate her point is the new series called the Austen Project, in which famous authors are asked to reimagine Austen’s original novels in a modern day setting. Val McDermid set Northanger Abbey at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and most recently Curtis Sittenfeld imagined Lizzy as a New York journalist, while Darcy was a brain surgeon in her updated version of Pride and Prejudice called Eligible. However while Vivienne admires the authors of the new re-imagined series for their own works, she said it was unfortunate that the new works didn’t feel like Austen, or like the authors themselves. An interesting point. She also made the point that not all adaptations are good…
For about $2 I downloaded on kindle an execrable account of Mr Darcy sowing his wild oats in London. Fortunately, the title and author escape me.
What do you think? Are Austen adaptations a good thing? Or is it time to leave Austen’s work alone and to enjoy it as it is?
Jane Austen Unscripted is Nominated for Award
The Broad Stage in Santa Monica California has been nominated for Best Presented Production for Jane Austen UnScripted from local improvisational theater troupe, Impro Theatre.
Jane Austen UnScripted ran at The Broad Stage from December 4th 2015 to December 20th 2015. Impro Theatre used Jane Austen’s wit and wisdom as an inspiration, and then from there the Impro Theatre team created a new world night after night of love-struck young ladies, brooding Darcy-esque gentleman and charming but dangerous cads. As each show was improvised, each night’s performance was different from all of those which had gone before. The Los Angeles Times called Jane Austen UnScripted “One of the funniest evenings in town…An amazing comedy troupe spins an entire play into comedy gold right before your eyes.” They sound as if they are very much the American version of the ever-popular Austentatious, which is an excellent recommendation as far as the Jane Austen News is concerned.
The winner of the 2016 LA STAGE Alliance Ovation Awards award for Best Presented Production will be announced on January 17th 2017, and we wish everyone at The Broad Stage and Impro Theatre the best of luck!
Research at the Jane Austen Centre
Last Thursday (November 3rd), we were pleasantly surprised to find that one of the visitors to the centre was on a research trip in preparation for an upcoming production of Lady Susan.
Pat Shepherd from Thame Players Theatre Company came to have a look around and get some ideas for costume and set design for their stage adaptation of Jane Austen’s early novella Lady Susan, a production which the company will be staging next year in March.
Thame Players Theatre Company is a vibrant and successful non-professional theatre group with over 150 members, founded over 70 years ago. They are a registered charity and the theatre they are housed in is run entirely by volunteers (despite this fact, they manage to put on five productions a year!). We at the centre are looking forward to seeing how the production goes!
The Reality of Unmentionable Matters
Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage and Manners is a new book by Therese Oneill, who is fed up with the image she has of women with their noses stuck into Jane Austen novels wishing that they lived in Jane’s time. She is out to disillusion Austen fans of what is often an idealised image of the 1800s with her down and dirty revelations about menstruation, childbirth, clothing, cooking, social life and sex.
Food conditions were such that you were near guaranteed to suffer diarrhea on a household scale a few times a month.
The book doesn’t just cover the Victorians, if it did it wouldn’t be able to include Jane Austen, but it has been expanded to include Jane’s late Georgian era as well.
Oneill has some wonderful insights into the lives of women in the 19th century and their trials and tribulations, but we have to say, it hasn’t stopped us at the Jane Austen News from wishing we could visit Jane’s era.
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