Friday, October 25, 2013

My Love Affair with Jane Austen

No, but I am serious, I love everything published by this women!

Here some backstory: My mother didn't really let us watch regular cartoons as children - so no disney channel, nickelodeon ext (until we were older). But we were allowed to watch all the PBS and WETA we wanted. So that was a lot of Barney, Dragon Tails and blah blah. But it also included a lot of Masterpiece Theatre. Oh Masterpiece Theatre, I cannot say enough about you! From live theatre to classical concerts to classics (or period dramas) like Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice (more recently Downton Abbey) to comedies (Vicar of Dibley anyone!?) and mysteries, like Agatha Christie,  they have exposed me to what I perceive as British culture my whole life. They are probably why I have wanted to come to England my whole life!

Anyway, they used to have Jane Austen weeks in the winter. Each week they brought us a different Jane Austen masterpiece, from Pride and Prejudice to Mansfield Park. I would watch them year after year with my mom or grandmother. Eventually it just became my thing. I've read all the books, bought and seen ALL of the BBC versions (most of the movies are rubbish - you can't do that kind of genius justice in 2 and a 1/2 hours), ordered the cool all in one collectors editions, everything I could think of, I watched and read. I LOVE IT ALL! I am probably the single black girl in the world who dreams of going to Bath in September, dressing up in amazing period gowns to experience the Jane Austen Festival!!! Ps. Its going to happen while I am over here.

But what does this have to do with Scotland? Yesterday night, I went and saw Two Bit Classic and Theatre Royal Bury St. Edmunds production of Pride and Prejudice for 2 Actors at Brunton Theatre in Musselburgh!

The production included a 2 person cast and minimal props and set, but it was amazing. The male actor played a variety of roles from Darcy to Kitty to Lady Katherine De Bourgh. The female lead played Lizzy Bennett, Bingley and Lydia, to name a few. With a minimal set and props, they were able to switch effectively between characters with little hesitation or pause. It was genius! Their costumes were also designed to allow them to switch seamlessly between characters. For example the female lead who play Lizzy wore a dress but when she was to portray Bingley, the front of her dress came apart and she was wearing riding trousers and boots. Little things like glasses (to signify Charlotte Lucas) or a pipe (to signify Mr. Bennett) along with voice changes allowed the audience to know whom each person was portraying.

The chemistry between the actors was clear and they were able to bring forth the characters that I feel in love with so many years ago. It was an amazing time and I am really really happy I convinced myself to go. I have never been to theatre alone and I didn't know how I would feel about that. But it was a great decision. The show is on tour here in the UK and I would encourage anyone to see it! For more information click here.

Ohhh side-note: There are rare times when minorities are included in period dramas, par the time period represented (Exception: Little Dorrit - Freema Agyeman played a minor role), let alone are a lead. BUT has anyone ever heard of Dido Elizabeth Belle!? She was an bi-racial aristocrat living in the 18th century. Well they are doing a movie about her!? OMG! WHAT! The trailer is below - you know I am going to go as soon as it opens.



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