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Over the weekend I was in Bristol watching Sally Cookson's marvellously textured devised version of Jane Eyre at the Old Vic. It might be the 19th-century title that's getting audiences into the building, but once they are there they will be watching a piece that uses all the tools of 21st-century theatre. It is a show that is a million miles away from the literal and literary adaptations that were part of my youthful theatregoing.
Like Melly Still's Coram Boy, Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin's Matilda, Simon Stephens and Marianne Elliott's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, and Tom Frankland and Keir Cooper's Don Quijote (which actually takes a hacksaw to Cervantes's book), the Bristol Jane Eyre is a page-to-stage theatre experience that leaves the original book far behind. These shows are as different as they are similar to the source material that inspired them.
Yet there often remains a feeling that the adaptation must always be second best. [...]
Jane Eyre in Bristol is definitely not a musical, but Benji Bower's fabulous score – which has its own magpie tendencies as it melds old and new – ensures that this show and its meanings are experienced as much through its soundscape as it is through its visuals and, in particular, its text. Text is only a very small part of the experience, unlike the stage adaptations of old, which were often merely an attempt to provide a substitute for the novel. A sort of animated version of Spark Notes, and very dull with it. [...]
Productions such as 1984 and Jane Eyre may have been created using many different tools, and may see text as just one of those tools, but the fact that they draw on old sources to create new work doesn't mean that they are of less value or less thrilling as pieces of theatre than an original piece of drama.
If these adaptations of familiar titles were being staged only as a means of ensuring good box-office returns, it would indeed be a concern. But I believe strongly that theatremakers are instinctively drawn towards other pieces of art in other media that offer them new ways to examine the world today. They should look for inspiration wherever they can find it.
If that means turning to 1984 for what it might tell us about our own information-loaded and dishonest times, Jane Eyre to consider women and feminism, and Don Quijote to look at protest, then it's fine by me. Particularly when what they produce on stage is so thrilling.
In Wuthering Heights, Catherine says of Heathcliff: “My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary ... He's always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.” Based on the serialized romance novel political reporters have been writing since 2010, Emily Brontë might as well have been writing about President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner, because the Gothic romance they share is exactly the same. Both men like golf, cigarettes, and Merlot. They have had a tempestuous relationship, and often say mean things about each other in public, before doing an about-face and renewing their devotion to each other in the press. (Jaime Fuller)
Morgan said [Harold Ramis, director of the movie Caddyshack] also played it smart with the scenes involving Judge Smails, played by Ted Knight. Cast members were complaining about Knight's pompous demeanor off-screen and that he seemed to forget he was acting in a farce, and not Olivier playing Heathcliffe [sic] on "Wuthering Heights." (Garry Smits)This poor (and so misguided) guy on Smosh really hates Wuthering Heights:
Like the first two entries, Wuthering Heights is a dense nineteenth century classic. Unlike the first two entries, it has zero redeeming value. It's a 300 page long soap opera about unbearable British people being rich and boring around each other. I have never cared less about a romance than I have about Catherine/Heathcliff, and I've seen the first Twilight movie. I can't write any more about this book because I'm falling asleep.
Instead, read: Anything by Jane Austen. Or the ingredients of your breakfast cereal. Or the letters you'll imagine if you stare at a blank wall long enough. If you're really itching for boring, horrible British people, watch Atonement, which is similarly excruciating but 1. is only two hours long, and 2. has that really cool war scene. (Daniel Dominguez)
Brontë said it best when she wrote, “You advise me [...] not to stray far from the ground of experience, as I become weak when I enter the region of fiction; and you say, ‘real experience is perennially interesting, and to all men.’ [...] [But] is not the real experience of each individual very limited? And, if a writer dwells upon that solely or principally, is he not in danger of repeating himself, and also of becoming an egotist?”
Brontë’s questions should be forwarded to Swift for her consideration. Although her songs seem to be “perennially interesting,” they are frankly a little limited in creative space. Because each is based nearly exclusively on experience, each is made atop that metaphorical springboard without much movement. If Swift is indeed a distinct musical talent (as your teenage sister/niece/etc. contends), she should heed the following advice: stop standing, start jumping. Don’t be party to existing myths; imagine ones beyond yourself. (Emily Kingman)
Le film que vous êtes la seule à connaître ? Bien sûr, je ne suis pas la seule, mais l’idée me plaît. Quand j’en parle, personne ne l’a jamais vu. Introuvable en DVD pendant longtemps (faute réparée depuis deux ans), Jane Eyre, de Robert Stevenson, avec Orson Welles et Joan Fontaine. Je suis tombée folle amoureuse de lui en M. Rochester. (Olivier Séguret) (Translation)
When digging into the past, and questioned about the famous names which have passed through the doors, the first answer is a surprising one. It is not the Premiership footballers, the soap stars, nor any one of the legion of musicians or songsmiths associated with the region; it is an historical novelist. Charlotte Brontë was reported to have attended her father’s bedside after his cataract operation, and supposedly wrote Jane Eyre around the same time. (Ryan O’Hare)