Saturday, February 16, 2013

Plenty of Felonies

The Herald Journal talks about Jay Richards's new Jane Eyre musical as performed in Logan, Utah:

For the past few months, Jay Richards’ life has revolved around “Jane Eyre.” He and his family have watched all 19 film adaptations of Charlotte Brontë’s famous novel.
And as producer and director of the musical adaptation which opened Valentine’s Day at the Ellen Eccles Theatre, Richards has been busy casting, running rehearsals and promoting the new show. And until last week, Richards still had the looming task of writing the last song to attend to.
“I have to be the producer for part of the day and worry about advertising and grant writing and publicity, and then I have to go home and be composer-guy while the phone isn’t ringing,” he says.
This weekend is a big one for the River Heights composer inasmuch as “Jane Eyre: A New Musical” premieres in Logan and his musical version of Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women” opens for the first time in Europe. “Little Women” originally premiered here at the Ellen Eccles Theatre in 2006.
An early version of Richards’ “Jane Eyre” has also been performed in Logan, but that was back in 1998, and Richards describes it as “very much a workshop, amateur kind of thing.” It was well received at the time, Richards says, but he wasn’t pleased with it.
In 2012, he pulled the yellowed pages of the old script out of his desk again.
“I thought, I was really hard on myself back then, but this isn’t bad. This really isn’t too bad.”
Richards then spent months studying the story of “Jane Eyre” with his wife, Carri, refining the script and deciding which scenes had enough emotional impact to warrant a musical number. Richards estimated that about an hour of the two-and-a-half hour long show will be taken up by musical numbers. Richards says he writes the script first, then writes songs that will later replace much of the dialogue.
“The music has to move the story forward, or you’re just wasting time,” he says.
Richards says he works chronologically “almost obsessively,” going through the script from beginning to end and composing from the overture to the finale. The production has evolved a lot since it was first cast, as Richards refines as he goes and takes suggestions from his seasoned cast. Scene change music is difficult to compose, and Richards says it takes a few tries to get it right. “(The pit orchestra) laughs at me because sometimes I’m handing out new music closing night, and I say, ‘Well, I’m always trying to get better, trying to improve and make this work.’” (...)
The biggest challenge staging “Jane Eyre,” Richards says, is that it’s a totally new show and people don’t know what to expect. It’s reputation as a romance might make some men turn up their nose, but Richards says, “There’s plenty of felonies to keep the guys interested: attempted murder, arson, all kinds of stuff.” (Rachel Kenley Fry)
The Toronto Star talks with costume designer Sandy Powell about Costume Design Oscar nominations:
She cites the muddy proletariat garb worn by Mia Wasikowska’s Jane Eyre as an example (it was nominated last year, but lost to The Artist’s homage to Hollywood’s silent era).
“They are stark and simple but perfect and beautiful,” she says. “There would have been as much time and thought and effort gone into that — the exact proportion, the exact shade — as something like the Judi Dench dress.” (Ryan Porter)
The Telegraph interviews the musician Richard Thompson:
"I'm not that affected by surroundings when I write music," the 63-year-old told me. "There is an inner landscape that you draw on, a sort of inner Brontë. It's a bleakness in which I always see songs happening. It's a fictional world. Maybe it doesn't even exist." (Martin Chilton)
The V-day aftermath is still in the news. The Toronto Star publishes a list of 'love stories' chosen by their readers:
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. (1847) Feisty governess Jane gets a job in the northern England mansion of mysterious, brooding Mr. Rochester.
Wuthering Heights by Emile (!) Brontë. (1847) Cathy and Heathcliff explore love and revenge on the Yorkshire moors.That book garnered almost a quarter of the votes on the site as favourite love story of all time.
The Chicago Tribune interviews the writer Jamaica Kincaid:
Q: Reading the book [See Now Then], I was constantly struck by its unusual form, which seems to have been influenced by the writing of Gertrude Stein. Could you talk about your influences in the book?
(...) Finally I have to mention Charlotte Brontë, whose "Jane Eyre" was given to me to read, again as a punishment, at age 11. (Kevin Nance)
The Daily Mail interviews BBC Breakfast's Susanna Reid:
The book that holds an everlasting resonance…
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. It spoke to me as a teenager and I marvelled at its complexity in my 20s and 30s, but now I’m 42 and a mother it feels unbearably cruel. (Rob McGibbon)
RadioTimes on Emmerdale's next week episodes:
Bob’s (Tony Audenshaw) untapped passion for Brenda (Lesley Dunlop) increases next week. After confessing to Dan (Liam Fox) that he does fancy his workmate, Bob is then forced to mask his feelings as Brontë enthusiast Brian asks Brenda out on a date. (David Brown)
The curious story of the writer Bill Spence (aka Jessica Blair) is told in The Telegraph. Mentions to other pen names occur:
Charlotte, Emily and Ann (sic) Brontë wrote under the names Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell respectively and Mary Ann Evans wrote as George Eliot, at a time when female authors were only associated with romance novels. (Felicity Capon)
The Australian traces the profile of Liu Meiling as a symbol of the new China:
Her father helped her to obtain her first job. "I knew he could do that," she says. "I was aware he did it for other people, but I didn't want that. I didn't like it. I read and re-read the novel Jane Eyre. Like her, I wanted to be myself." (Rowan Callick)
 The Halifax Courier talks about the Wadsworth Trog race:
The Trog then began to exact its crushing toll, as the race ascended the aptly named Top of the Stairs, before grinding across the bleak wastes of Oxenhope Stoop to the Brontë ruins of Top Withens.
The Royal Gazette has an interesting point to make about ghost hunters:
One lady from the Goners team kept asking the ghosts if they had any “kids” a relatively recent American phrase. I imagined Mr Cox’s uncle, Aubrey Cox, who occupied one of the bedrooms in the 1920s, sitting back and wondering why these people kept asking him if he had any goats. At home we’ve been listening to iPod audio versions of classic novels from the 1800s. My husband keeps asking me what they’re talking about. A typical sentence from the novel ‘Wuthering Heights’ includes: “…I charitably conjectured he must have need of divine aid to digest his dinner, and his pious ejaculation had no reference to my unexpected advent.”
So in the unexpected advent that we did make contact with the other world, there would be a lot of misunderstanding, and we’d all need divine aid to digest our dinners. (Jessie Moniz)
El Confidencial (Spain) has an article about remakes:
Cumbres Borrascosas es la única novela de Emily Brontë. Fue publicada por primera vez en 1847. Su hermana Charlotte Brontë tuvo la oportunidad de volver a editar una segunda edición póstuma. Se han hecho muchas adaptaciones, dramatizaciones, series y varias películas de esta novela: desde su adaptación de 1939, dirigida por William Wyler y protagonizada por Laurence Olivier y Merle Oyeron, hasta la de Luis Buñuel en 1953, ha habido decenas de versiones, en 1963, 1970, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1985, 1992, 2003, 2009 o 2011. (...)
No siempre sale bien la primera vez, y podemos crear una segunda oportunidad sin necesidad de esperar (como ocurre en Cumbres Borrascosas) a que sean nuestros descendientes, las nuevas generaciones, quienes conviertan la tragedia en drama con final feliz. ¿Acaso podemos crear esa segunda oportunidad en nuestra vida, en nuestro presente y cambiar el final? Si en la vida cotidiana existe la posibilidad de intervenir, ¿está en nuestra mano y hacemos cuanto podemos ya sea en relación al tema ocurrido, los personajes que intervenimos o la atmósfera para adaptar el Remake de nuestra historia? (Lecina Fernández(Translation)
Bayerischer Rundfunk talks about fan fiction:
 Das neue Werk ist von diesem jedoch so weit losgelöst, dass es als selbständiges Werk gesehen werden kann. Ein Beispiel hierfür wäre "Sargassomeer" von Jean Rhys: Ihr Roman basiert auf "Jane Eyre" und erzählt die Geschichte von Rochesters erster Ehefrau.  (Translation)
I.J. Miller writes on Tote Bags'n'Blogs about her experience writing Wuthering Nights. An Erotic Retelling of Wuthering Heights (now as e-book and in paperback next April); Rincón de Crítica Literaria (in Spanish) and Musings of a Teenage Geek review the original Wuthering Heights; Rachel Witus posts several entries about Jane Eyre; Fly High! posts about Jane Eyre 2006; Cazadores de Películas (in Spanish) talk about Wuthering Heights 1998; via weddinggawker we have discovered this Wuthering Heights Mood Board on Limn & Lovely; the Brontë Parsonage Facebook informs that the February 3 issue of the Antiques Trade Gazette qualifies the recent Sotheby's auction where six Charlotte Brontë letters were won by the Brontë Society as 'the best Brontë lot of the year'.

And last, but not least, Bookshelves of Doom posts a quite complete post on recent literary takes on Wuthering Heights: essential reading.

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