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The Tenant of Wildfell HallThe Ubyssey adds:
Based on the novel by Anne Brontë
Adapted by Professor Jacqueline Firkins
Directed by Alumna Sarah Rodgers
Presented by the Department of Theatre and Film at the University of British Columbia
Venue: Frederic Wood Theatre
October 1-17, 2015
Preview: September 30 | Opening Night Reception: October 1 | Alumni Night + Post-Show Talkback: October 7 | No Performances: Sunday – Tuesday
— HER SECRET IS SAFE WITH HIM —
Helen Graham has moved into the withered Wildfell Hall in an attempt to escape her mysterious past. Unfortunately, gossip is served daily in Helen’s new town and she is their latest appetizer. Chatter quickly escalates when her relationships with Frederick Lawrence and Gilbert Markham are scrutinized; forcing Helen to contend with her past haunting the present.
Celebrated as one of the world’s first feminist novels, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall delivers quick wit and cutting insights on 19th century gender dynamics. When performed in this premiere stage adaptation from Professor Jacqueline Firkins, female independence truly takes the spotlight.
Francis Winter, fourth-year BFA student who plays Gilbert Markham, delves into the development of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.
“This play was actually really interesting to work on because we began with a workshop to work the script. It is a new script by a member of faculty here at UBC ... [the actors] had a chance to get together before the production of the play had begun to go over it and work with her on it, iron it out and make sure we were all really happy with it,” said Winter.
While honouring Brontë’s intentions with the original novel through themes of female independence, finding true love, passion, pain and loss, the adaptation has been produced to resonate with contemporary audiences.
“The play seems to sort of stretch itself in many different directions trying to fit in that quality of Jane Austen ... into something that has conventional themes about relationship and sacrifice and marriage and abuse in relationships," said Thomas Elma, returning BFA alumnus playing Arthur Huntington, Helen's husband. "So for that reason alone, I think that it is different. It lives in the past while reaching out to people in the present."
There certainly is a dark underbelly that serves as the foundation for the play.
“Something that I found interesting was that the original novel by Anne Brontë is really a social critique of the permissiveness of certain behaviours in the time," said Winter. "Anne Brontë saw a lot of the obscure side of human behaviour through her brother who was a cad and a drunk while she was working as a governess in the same house as he was the tutor. I think those themes of permissiveness through a lens that values some individuals higher than others really shines through and I think that those are the types of themes that will still resonate with audiences today,” said Winter. (Andrea Gonzalez)