What’s the Jane Austen News this week?
Pride and Prejudice At The Ballet
Stage adaptations of Jane Austen have become increasingly popular in recent years (we look at one such adaptation later on in this week’s Jane Austen News). We’ve had one-woman shows, Jane Austen musicals, Jane Austen improv, but one we personally haven’t come across before is one of Jane Austen’s novels staged as a ballet. However Ballet Fantastique will be doing just that. Their first show of the 2016-17 season is bringing back a 2012 premiere, Pride and Prejudice: A Parisian Jazz Ballet.
“We’re taking the classic Jane Austen novel and remixing it with 1920s Paris,” said their marketing director Katey Finley in a recent interview. “A live band will be wearing snazzy suits and playing live period jazz along with great choreography, like doing The Charleston en pointe.”
How fantastic is that?!
A Book Of One’s Own
Orion recently bought the novel Perception by Terri Fletcher, which will chronicle the life of Mary Bennet, the third Bennet sister, after Jane, Elizabeth and Lydia leave Longbourne. In the past all of the Bennet sisters have at one time or another seen the spotlight and had new adventures written about them, but a recent blog post by Alicia Kort has got us thinking on the subject of literary women whose stories deserve further exploration. What other strong female characters in literature deserve their own novels but as of yet haven’t been given one?
Alicia suggests; Hermione Granger (The Harry Potter series), Dasiy Buchanan (The Great Gatsby), Teresa Agnes (The Maze Runner), and Sam Dutton (The Perks of Being a Wallflower). These are all great suggestions, but at the Jane Austen News we can think of more than just the Bennet sisters who could fill a book of their own. The tale of Mrs Norris’s first love anyone?
Sense and Sensibility Too Sensible?
The New York theatre company Bedlam is staging a new adaptation of Sense and Sensibility, but rather than focusing primarily on the romance of the story, director and co-founder Eric Tucker wants to bring out the comedy within the novel that he feels is all too often overlooked.
To do this Tucker is making the play more minimalist and modern. He’s getting rid of detailed backdrops and putting wheels on all of the furniture so it can be easily moved, and used; when a young woman is fleeing social judgment she scoots away on a chair, only to be pursued by the gossips on their own mobile seating. Tucker uses physical theatre and a brisk pace to bring out the wit that he feels can be lost in a lot of adaptations.
A lot of the movie versions of Austen tamp down the comedy and make the stories period-piece melodrama. I didn’t want that. I wanted it to be raw and modern. One of the reviews said our ‘Sense and Sensibility’ was Dickensian. I liked that. Our production in New York was very bawdy, and it surprised people who thought they didn’t like Austen. But she was pretty wicked in her letters — very gossipy, saying the most awful things about people.
At the Jane Austen News we wish them the best of luck with their new production. Jane had so much wit and so many comedic moments in her novels and this is not always remembered; we think she’d approve.
What Made Colin Firth Reject Mark Darcy
With the recent UK release of Bridget Jones’s Baby, Colin Firth has been giving quite a few interviews to help promote the film, and, of course, in a fair few of them the subject of Mr Darcy comes up. One that caught our eye was an interview he gave to Eric Eisenberg for CinemaBlend.com. In the interview Firth talks about how, even following such amazing success with the 1995 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice where he played a modern traditional Darcy, he originally turned down the role of Mark Darcy who he plays in the Bridget Jones films.
I started off thinking there was no way in with that character. I originally turned it down, because I didn’t think… how do you play this guy who doesn’t do anything really? He just sort of stands around and scowls and looks imperious. And I thought, ‘Well, sure, I can do that, but will anyone give a damn? It’s not appealing!
Happily he kept the role in mind and eventually came round to the idea thinking:
‘Well, maybe there’s something fun in that. You don’t have to be charming. You just have to be incredibly distant and dislikable.’ And I thought, ‘That’s pretty liberating!’ So that was an incentive.
We didn’t know he’d turned the role down at first, but we’re glad he changed his mind! It’s hard to imagine the Bridget Jones films or the 1995 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice being such a success without him.
Unleashing Mr Darcy
And from one Mr Darcy to another.
Another modern film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice has been made and just released by Hallmark.
In this version of Pride & Prejudice, Elizabeth Scott (Cindy Busby) decides to show her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in a dog show in New York, but she clashes with the arrogant judge Donovan Darcy (Ryan Paevey). In true Jane Austen fashion, Elizabeth learns that Mr. Darcy is far more kind and interesting than she ever imagined.
Love and Friendship
There’s less than a week to go before Whit Stillman’s film adaptation of Love and Friendship is released on DVD in the UK, and we can’t wait! It’s due out on Monday 26th September and we have the date marked on our calendar. Though if you’re a U.S. Jane Austen fan you don’t have to wait because the DVD came out in the U.S. on September 6th. We’re a little jealous…
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Love and Friendship – The Main Players
Before you see the film you can now meet the main players in Love and Friendship in these wonderful short clips given to us by Curzon Films.
Love and Friendship – Whit Stillman lets us in on some of the filming secrets.
Want a sneak peek behind the scenes of the Making of ‘Love and friendship’? There are interviews, location shots and camera work on show in this handsome 6 minute feature given to us by Curzon Films.
Set in the opulent drawing rooms of eighteenth-century English society, Love and Friendship focuses on the machinations of a beautiful widow, Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale), who, while waiting for social chatter about a personal indiscretion to pass, takes up temporary residence at her in-laws’ estate. While there, the intelligent, flirtatious, and amusingly egotistical Lady Vernon is determined to be a matchmaker for her daughter Frederica—and herself too, naturally.
Many of the staff of the Jane Austen Centre have seen it and have given a resounding thumbs up for this fresh and witty take on Austen’s witty gem.
Love & Friendship is acclaimed writer-director Whit Stillman’s adaptation of young Jane Austen’s novella ‘Lady Susan’, believed to have been written in the mid 1790s but only published by her nephew, James Edward Austen-Leigh, in 1871.
While ensconced there, she attracts the simultaneous attentions of the young, handsome Reginald DeCourcy (Xavier Samuel), the rich and silly Sir James Martin (Tom Bennett) and the divinely attractive, but married, Lord Manwaring (Lochlann O’Mearáin), complicating matters severely. But as always, Lady Susan has a plan…
Featuring a note-perfect ensemble cast including Chloë Sevigny and Stephen Fry, Love & Friendship is a fresh, subversive and frequently hilarious take on the traditional period drama adaptation. Featuring a revelatory turn from Kate Beckinsale as the duplicitous but thoroughly charming Lady Susan Vernon, Love & Friendship is the sharpest, wittiest Jane Austen adaptation to grace the screen.
Here’s a ‘Book to screen’ teaser for you to enjoy.
Love & Friendship is released in cinemas nationwide on Friday 27 May. To celebrate this, a group of our guides from the Jane Austen Centre will be going in costume to our local independent cinema, The Little Theatre in Bath, where we’ll be demonstrating Regency etiquette and the language of the fan!
To find out more about the upcoming release of Love & Friendship visit LoveAndFriendshipFilm.co.uk
‘A rapier-sharp comedy’