Thursday, March 01, 2012

Burlesque Brontës

Many news outlets today continue echoing the news of Charlotte Brontë's newly-found devoir, such as The Telegraph and Argus, which has talked to Andrew McCarthy:

Andrew McCarthy, director of the Brontë Parsonage museum in Haworth, which has several of the other devoirs, said: “It’s a really interesting discovery and intriguing how it came to be in this museum. It’s something we would be keen to bring to Haworth at some point to display with the other devoirs we have here.
“The discovery ties in with a resurging continental interest in the Brontës.
“Those exercises were quite important in the development of the Brontës as technical writers and would have fed into the great novels they went on to produce.” (Hannah Baker)
What is saddening is the fact that other news out lets are - again - trying to make a sensational story out of something that clearly isn't (thousands of students all over the world even today write stories for their married teachers. Take a look at these headlines:
Brontë story for forbidden love is finally published (Yorkshire Post)
Charlotte Brontë's lost short story for married tutor to be published (Daily News & Analysis)
Long-lost story written by Charlotte Brontë for a married man she loved is published for the first time (Daily Mail)
Given that the devoir was written after a mere few weeks into their stay in Brussels at the bidding of their teacher, it seems a bit premature to go to those sensational lengths to 'adorn' what's already a great story: a Brontë manuscript written over a century and a half ago has been found. 

Anyway, don't forget that the London Review of Books has the full devoir (also in English translated by Sue Lonoff), a picture and a podcast by Gillian Anderson.

The Huddersfield Daily Examiner reports that
Visitors to Red House Museum will be charged an admission fee, councillors have decided.
Kirklees Council’s Cabinet last night agreed the charging plan for the Brontë-linked museum, making it the first in Kirklees to charge entry fees.
But councillors amended their original plan of charging £3.50 by £1.
Adults will pay £2.50, children £1 and a family ticket will be £6.
Kirklees Passport holders will receive a 50% discount.
The Cabinet also agreed to delay the introduction of the new charges from April 1 until June 1 but said opening hours will be reduced from October.
The move angered local campaigners, many of whom said they didn’t understand why only Red House was being subjected to the change.
Following the agreement, angry campaigner Imelda Marsden told councillors they were “stupid” and said she couldn’t understand why Red House was being “picked on”.
Speaking before the amended agreement, she said: “Why don’t you charge for all museums in Kirklees?
“If you charge too much you won’t get people there.”
Museum fan, John Appleyard, added: “If we put these sort of charges on, it’s low income families that are going to be hit.
“Education is very important and should be equal for all and not for certain people who have wealth.”
Liversedge and Gomersal Tory, Clr Margaret Bates, said the council’s consultation had been a “dog’s breakfast from start to finish”.
She said: “The £60,000 deficit is in museum services, not just Red House.
“Small charges across the board for all museums would result in parity and not just one museum being singled out.”
Birstall and Birkenshaw Tory, Clr Liz Smaje also slammed the plan.
She said: “There’s been no timescales and no reference to any long term strategy.
“It just seems like this is a knee jerk reaction and it’s too early to bring it to Cabinet.
“There should be discussions with staff and the public and a little bit of time to assess what the long-term strategy should be.”
Clr Jean Calvert, who presented the report, said the move was just the first part of a review into all museums and galleries and said she was “very excited” about some of things that could happen at Red House in the future.
She said: “We have listened to public feedback since the original charging proposals were made and we have made these changes to ensure fair access for everyone as well as meet the service’s need to balance its budget.
“We are also looking at other ways of raising revenue from all of our museums and galleries and a working party is in the process of being set up with Red House in particular with this in mind.
“Local ward councillors will be involved and anyone who has any ideas can ring any of us for their input to be included.
“The other sites will also be looked at as soon as is possible.”
Kirklees Council leader, Clr Mehboob Khan, added: “We live in tough times and this museum does cost the taxpayer £116,000 per year.
“There are more taxpayers who don’t visit it than those who do and they also deserve value for their taxes.”
Other members of the Cabinet said they saw potential in the museum.
Deputy leader Clr David Sheard said he thought the museum could be developed to offer weddings and conferences like its near neighbour Oakwell Hall.
Clr Sheard, who represents Heckmondwike, also said he would like to see “living experiences” boosted rather than outdated glass-case museums. (Nick Lavigueur)
Coincidentally, it's Mary Taylor's birthday today.

Still locally, the Spenborough Guardian brings up more controversial plans:
Robin Hood’s grave could be overshadowed by a huge business development if Kirklees Council plans are passed.
The council is to make a decision on its Local Development Framework on March 6 – but Keep Roberttown and Hartshead Rural campaign group is hoping the council will take into consideration the historical importance of the land.
The council wants to give up 42 hectares of green belt – which the campaign group says it twice the size of the White Rose Centre – within a 93-hectare site between Hartshead, Roberttown and Cooper Bridge.
It means industrial buildings could be constructed right next to the grave of legendary outlaw Robin Hood.
The campaign group has put together a video of images from the site, which is steeped in local history.
As well as Robin Hood, the land has links to the Brontës and the Luddites.
Two Brontë novels are among the ten books recommended by Richard Madeley (of Richard an Judy Book Club fame) in The Mirror:
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë
If there is such a thing as the perfect romantic novel, this has to be it.  The book that inspired so many television and film adaptations is the real deal.  Generations of women – and men – have lost their hearts to this story.
Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë
Probably one of the most powerful stories ever written, full of passion, hatred, and dominated throughout by the dark, brooding force of nature that is Heathcliff.
PopMatters reviews The Brontës of Haworth DVD:
I love the Brontës. I keep a post card of Charlotte’s portrait in my study, on the bookshelf holding the novels I have written. I look at her and she looks back at me, faintly arch perhaps. Jane Eyre has remained one of my favorite books for over 30 years, since reading it in my freshman year of college. Emily’s Wuthering Heights also posseses a recognizably powerful wildness and passion, notwithstanding its somewhat overblown melodrama (sorry, Twlight fans). I’ve even read Anne’s books The Tenant of Wildfell hall and Agnes Grey, as well as Charlotte’s follow-up to Jane Eyre, Villette. [...]
So I jumped at the chance to review The Brontës of Haworth. Somewhere in the back of my mind I recollected that there had been a ‘70s movie made of these sisters’ lives, starring the French stunner Isabelle Adjani as Emily (Google her—you’ll be glad). I thought, gosh, she seems a little glamorous for this family, but who knows? Maybe she can act the part, like Charlize Theron in Monster.
Alas, I got it all wrong. The Brontës of Haworth is not the 1979 French film but a five-episode British serial made in 1973 which is in some ways nearly as stodgy as the Victorian era it represents. Shot on location in the family homestead in Haworth, the series achieves an effectively claustrophobic feel, but it focuses as much on underachieving brother Branwell as on the woman who made the Brontë name famous; in fact he rather dominates the first two episodes. This is unfortunate, because the women are a lot more interesting, but then again this series is not called Only the Interesting Brontës of Haworth. [...]
The DVD presentation here is competent but not much more. Colors are muddy and muted; perhaps this is appropriate for the time and the material, but in these days of crisp transfers and sharp definition, the quality seems substandard. The sound is poor, too, with many lines of dialogue swallowed up in the muffled recording. This is made up for, in part, by the performances, which are very good, especially Rosemary McHale as the fiesty, mercurial Emily Brontë and Alfred Burke as the family patriarch. Vickery Turner does well as Charlotte and Anne Penfold as the sweet but somewhat overlooked Anne.
It’s tough to recommend this series to any but the most diehard Brontë fans. It doesn’t look particularly good, and the most interesting parts of the women’s lives—their unexpected success in a male-dominated publishing world—are scarcely touched upon. Far too much emphasis is lavished on Branwell, a guy who frankly didn’t do much of anything, and various soap opera-y subplots. The whole series is nearly 40 years old and looks older. There are virtually no extras, just some mildly interesting background information on Haworth. (David Maine)
The Galway Advertiser talks to Jill Sanoriello, who wrote the musical based on Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two cities:
“I wrote several songs for a musical adaptation of Wuthering Heights,” she tells me. “My golden voiced brother Alex was just about to make his Broadway debut and he advised me to abandon the rather depressing Wuthering Heights idea and find another story that was a little more uplifting. Mom had read A Tale of Two Cities and thought that might do the trick. I read it and was completely swept up in the power of the story and its message.” (Charlie McBride)
The Edmonton Journal features the burlesque troupe Send in the Girls, who joke about the burlesque potential of several classics:
The possibilities are apparently limitless. Once you’re in the groove, nothing is impossible for the inventive burlesque troupe, except maybe Lost In Space or Nanook of the North. What about Waiting For Godot, with its vaudevillian tramps? A natural, Chorley laughs. Oscar Wilde? A piece of cake. Hmmm. OK, Chekhov would be a challenge. Here’s one: Chorley has just finished the first draft of her new Brontë sisters burlesque, destined for the Fringe. “There’s a lot under the surface in Wuthering Heights,” declares Chorley. Send In The Girls will be showing us what. (Liz Nicholls)
And according to Vue Weekly:
Chorley's busy penning the script for their next full-length Fringe production (about the Brontë Sisters) but March Madness, the group's inaugural short-form show, looks to mix a scattering of previous pieces in with a couple of brand new ones, all hosted by local musician Lindsay Walker, and  including what Chorley dubs "gorelesque," previously developed for a halloween fundraiser and mixing the removal of clothing with some bloody reveals—not exactly traditional burlesque but, as Chorley reiterates, tradition isn't what they're aiming for. (Paul Blinov)
The Brontë Weather Project discusses the weather in Jane Eyre and The Parchment Society posts about that novel as well.

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