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Jane Austen News – Issue 35

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 

Pride and Prejudice At The Ballet      

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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

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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?    
wk-stage0916-3The 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.

Eric Tucker

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    

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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   
90And 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.

In this video Ryan Paevey talks about his views on Darcy, and just why his Darcy finds Lizzy so attractive and irritating. Some clips from the film and more details can be found here.


Love and Friendship   

loveetcThere’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…


Jane Austen Day with Charlotte

Jane Austen News is our weekly compilation of stories about or related to Jane Austen. Here we will feature a variety of items, including craft tutorials, reviews, news stories, articles and photos from around the world. If you’d like to include your story, please contact us with a press release or summary, along with a link. You can also submit unique articles for publication in our Jane Austen Online Magazine.

Don’t miss our latest news – become a Jane Austen Member and receive a digest of stories, articles and news every week. You will also be able to access our online Magazine with over 1000 articles, test your knowledge with our weekly quiz and get offers on our Online Giftshop. Plus new members get an exclusive 10% off voucher to use in the Online Giftshop.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 30

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?

 

Are Retellings A Good Idea? Austen & Shakespeare     

LS3016_54_GI_51246881You have probably heard that in 2013 HarperCollins launched the Austen Project, commissioning contemporary updates of Jane’s six completed novels. Well, less well publicised has been the Hogarth Shakespeare initiative, which, in a similar vein to the Austen Project, is giving eight of Shakespeare’s plays to a selection of today’s best-selling novelists for some modern retellings.

Shylock is My Name is Howard Jacobson’s take on The Merchant of Venice. Jeanette Winterson has written The Gap of Time based on The Winter’s Tale. Then came Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler which is a remake of The Taming of the Shrew.

The Austen Project has had a few criticisms from reviewers, but the Hogarth Shakespeare initiative has a couple of problems that the Austen Project did not, which has left some critics cold to the idea. For example, how to deal in a modern society with a plot hinging on misogyny in The Taming of the Shrew, and one based on anti-Semitism in The Merchant of Venice. Also, changing the format from a play that happened over the space of a few hours, to a form that takes much longer, usually a few days at least, takes some thought and much deeper access to characters’ psychology.

The next in the Shakespeare series is due out this October; Hagseed by Margaret Atwood, based on The Tempest. We at the Jane Austen News thought that fans of the Austen Project might like to know and compare the relative successes of the books from the two initiatives.      


Musical Jane At The Fringe

promise-and-promiscuity-jane-austen-musical-ed-fringeGiven the size of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and the number of performers taking part and shows on offer, it would have been somewhat incredible if there wasn’t at least one Jane Austen themed piece of theatre to see.

This year Penny Ashton fulfils that requirement with Promise and Promiscuity. She presents a rather down-to-earth/tongue-in-cheek view of Jane’s world in an hour-long comedic romp through material based on Jane’s famous novels. Ashton’s one woman show gives the audience an insight into the lives of Miss Elspeth Slowtree and her family and general acquaintance. They navigate through a complex social world and dance the ‘wriggly maggot’, deal with marriage proposals, explore the role of the woman in society, and get mixed up with Horatio Nelson’s bodily functions.

Within the play are 33 direct Jane Austen quotes, as well as references to plenty of modern pop songs. Ballads, arias, and jaunty tunes are another feature; written to the tune of well-known classical pieces.

So now to wait and see if it will prove to be a successful blend of modern and old, or if it will be too much for more purist fans.


New Bridget Jones Novel On The Way 

_90685639_012723674Fans of Pride and Prejudice will know that Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones is based on Austen’s Lizzy Bennet. The Bridget Jones books became hugely popular with established Austen fans as well as those who’d never read any of Jane’s work before. So, assuming that the overlap between Pride and Prejudice fans and Bridget Jones fans still exists, we at the Jane Austen News thought you might like to know that a new Bridget Jones novel is on its way.

On September the 16th this year (2016), the film Bridget Jones ‘s Baby will be released in UK cinemas. A month after this the book Bridget Jones’s Baby: The Diaries written by Helen Fielding will also be released. Both the film and the book follow Bridget’s not so smooth journey into motherhood after she gets pregnant, along with the awkward question of who the father of the baby is.

The new book will be set after the events in The Edge of Reason but before those of Fielding’s last Bridget Jones book, Mad About The Boy, so rest assured, Mark Darcy will feature heavily.


Perception The Perfect Sequel Name?      

515QiMbLJ7LThere have been plenty of sequels, and prequels for that matter, written about Pride and Prejudice. Lots of sequel, with lots of things in common; the same characters, the same tone of voice, some have the same basic plot lines, but they don’t usually have  the same name…

In September 2015 Dennis R. Fortier released a sequel to Pride and Prejudice titled Perception, in which “Jayne, the beautiful, charming, intelligent daughter of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy falls in love with young Jeffery Richards. Unfortunately, Richards is the son of parents in service and the irregular romance causes plenty of concern and scandal that echoes far beyond the hallowed halls of Pemberley.” Now a second book called Perception is to be released. Due out next year the new Perception is written by Terri Fleming and it’s going to include Elizabeth and Darcy (of course) but will follow primarily Kitty and Mary Bennet.

It would be interesting to know if the respective authors find it to be an advantage or a disadvantage to have another Pride and Prejudice based book on the market with their book’s name.


Examining Jane Austen’s Fashion 

Jane Austen NewsOn Saturday 5 November 2016 and on Saturday 12 November 2016, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry, UK, will be hosting the two-part event Pride, Prejudice and Petticoats: Regency Fashion from Jane Austen to Cranford.

In the course attendees will explore women’s clothing from 1800 to the mid-1830s, examining details of surviving garments in museum collections and comparing them with contemporary images and descriptions.

Also explored will be the social background to fashion. This includes how it was bought and made, and what can be learnt about this from the books and letters of writers such as Jane Austen and Elizabeth Gaskell. By the end of the course “you will come to historical fiction and costume drama with a new understanding of the clothing of this period.”

So for Austen fans in the Coventry area, this might be an event to add to the calendar. Tickets are limited and priced at £46 when booked via eventbrite.


Jane’s Chawton Raises School Funds 

AH-Chawton-Ball2Guests attending this year’s Chawton Hamper Ball enjoyed a wonderful evening of music, magic, food and drink, while simultaneously raising funds to buy new IT equipment for the village primary school. The event was hosted by Chawton House Library on July 9, under a marquee provided by the Jane Austen Society, and it attracted more than 130 people.

A raffle was also held as part of the Ball to raise funds for St Michael’s Hospice in Basingstoke. Prizes included a private aircraft flight over Chawton, private tours of Chawton House Library and Jane Austen’s House in Chawton, flatscreen televisions, beauty treatments, and Country Market vouchers.

The total amount raised for the hospice was over £400, and the total raised for the primary school over £2,000!

Jane keenly encouraged her nieces to write, so it seems only appropriate that Chawton, her home after she left Bath, is helping to raise funds to inspire and educate the next generation. Perhaps a few may even go on to be authors like Jane. Who knows.


Jane Austen Day with Charlotte

Jane Austen News is our weekly compilation of stories about or related to Jane Austen. Here we will feature a variety of items, including craft tutorials, reviews, news stories, articles and photos from around the world. If you’d like to include your story, please contact us with a press release or summary, along with a link. You can also submit unique articles for publication in our Jane Austen Online Magazine.

Don’t miss our latest news – become a Jane Austen Member and receive a digest of stories, articles and news every week. You will also be able to access our online Magazine with over 1000 articles, test your knowledge with our weekly quiz and get offers on our Online Giftshop. Plus new members get an exclusive 10% off voucher to use in the Online Giftshop.