Red Deer College theatre studies students are putting the finishing touches on their rendition of the Jane Austen classic Pride and Prejudice, opening Thursday evening on the Arts Centre mainstage.
Directed by Lynda Adams, the production runs through to Feb. 7th, continuing Feb. 11th-14th with curtain at 7:30 p.m. There are also Saturday matinees on Feb. 7th and Feb. 14th at 1 p.m. A Valentine’s Day tea is also set for Feb. 14th following the matinee performance.
In a society where manners and birth mean everything, can Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy look beyond their pride and prejudice? “I’m in love with the story, and I’m in love with her words,” explains Adams during a rehearsal break recently. “It’s really spectacular. I’ve also been taking the novel with me everywhere, because I’m reviewing and reading sections of the scenes that we are working on and realizing all the intricacies of the characters.
“The script is also very cinematic in its treatment of the story.” Austen’s story has been given a ‘unique and accessible treatment’ by renowned playwright and director Jon Jory. “He has really captured the story.”
Of course, that’s no easy task when adapting a sizable novel that is literally packed with all kinds of compelling characters and scenes, covering a range of events and emotions. Not to mention, set in rural England about two centuries ago.
“He’s so true to the words,” added Adams, describing Jory’s approach to penning the script. “There are only 18 lines that are not Austen’s from the novel (in the script). To be able to go through the novel and see all these lines that are being said by these young actors is quite fabulous.”
RDC’s production will indeed delight Austen fans and win new fans with this ‘story of improbable love’. Among Austen’s most famous and beloved works, its appeal has never faded. And as Adams points out, there has been something of a resurgence of interest in Austen over the past couple of decades as well. Not that she’s ever been out of fashion – Jane Austen societies and groups abound world-wide. It all really simply points to the universal themes that continually surface in her work, particularly in the engaging pages of Pride and Prejudice. As the story unfolds, there are all the themes that resonate so much with audiences of really any era – love, romance, family struggles, disappointment, despair and settled happiness.
First published in 1813, Pride and Prejudice has consistently been noted as Austen’s most popular novel, according to Pemberley.com. “It portrays life in the genteel rural society of the day, and tells of the initial misunderstandings and later mutual enlightenment between Elizabeth Bennet (whose liveliness and quick wit have often attracted readers) and the haughty Darcy. The title Pride and Prejudice refers (among other things) to the ways in which Elizabeth and Darcy first view each other.”
The original version of the novel was written in 1796-1797 under the title First Impressions.
Meanwhile, Adams is looking forward to seeing how local audiences respond to RDC’s interpretation of such a literary jewel. And as far as her students go, she couldn’t be happier with their commitment to the creative process.
One evening, the cast was getting together for a potluck family dinner as the Bennet family – and even planned to stay in character, accents and all. “You have to really live these characters – especially because of the accent.”
Indeed. And it’s preparatory experiences like that that build authenticity to each and every performance.
“I have to say they are doing an amazing job with the language as well – it’s so full,” said Adams of her cast. “The structure is different, as are some of the words – and the accents,” she added, summing up the challenges of nailing the sensibilities, manners and norms of the time that the story is set in. “But what a great piece of theatre for them – that they get to grab onto Pride and Prejudice. It’s a classic.”
Tickets are available online at www.bkticketcentre.ca or by calling 403-755-6626.