Thursday, January 21, 2016

Thursday, January 21, 2016 11:37 am by Cristina in , , , , , , , , ,    No comments
Bristol 24/7 reviews Publick Transport's production We Are Brontë.
 Inspired by the real and imaginary worlds of the Brontës and devised and performed by Sarah Corbett and Angus Barr, We Are Brontë provides a glorious mash-up of physical theatre, stand-up, clowning, improvisation – and a self-conscious exploration of both the Brontë sisters' genre-defining work and the nature of theatre itself. [...]
Structured as a series of thematically linked sketches, the show provides a dissection and post-mortem of just about every Gothic trope in the English literature A-Level anthology. In something akin to the opening of a Kenan & Kel episode, every so often the lights flick on for the audience to break the fourth wall and provide an explanation of which Gothic subtlety to be on the lookout for, lest our unlearned minds gloss over the nuances.
“This is a really good bit,” observes Barr’s character. He’s not joking. The couple’s physicality is unparalleled: every step purposeful, every double take timed to a tee. Barr’s skillset, indeed, doesn’t end at his fingertips: even his puppetry is on point.
The masterminds go as far as mocking directing tropes themselves, even apologising to the audience for their inadequate staging. The fourth
wall is well and truly broken by the time the audience are settled into the midway Q&A session: so come armed with some loaded questions. Even puppetry (still enjoying a theatrical revival) fails to escape the guillotine. [...]
Witty physical theatre at its finest. Go and see it. (James Prescott)
Bristol Post has an article about it too. And of course We Are Brontë is not the only Brontë-related show in Bristol as Sally Cokson's Jane Eyre is now back there. Bristol Post has interviewed actor Felix Hayes, who plays Mr Rochester.
Returning in the role of the brooding Rochester is Bristol-based actor Felix Hayes.
"The success of this production is fantastic," says Felix, a long-time collaborator with Sally Cookson. "It is such a pleasure to perform for audiences who seem to have enjoyed the piece as much as we did making it.
"I can't wait to bring it back to Bristol. The show has changed quite a bit and it will be lovely to take it back to where it began – the fantastic Bristol Old Vic."
Felix energetically embodies the gruff, sardonic Rochester, master of Thornhill, opposite Madeleine Worrall's vulnerable yet strong- minded Jane. The role of the dark and aloof Rochester was quite a departure for Felix, who is best known for his comic roles, regularly working with the RSC and Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory. [...]
"During the original research and development week, way back in spring of 2013, I was cast as Brocklehurst and St John Rivers. A few months later Sally emailed me to ask me to be Rochester, which was a bit of a shock.
"But she persuaded me. It is a fantastic part, and it was his wit – his dry humour – that really attracted me to the role. That and the fact it was like nothing I've ever done before, a real challenge."
As with all of Sally's work, the rehearsal process was an organic team-lead exercise with the actors devising much of the show themselves and having a real input into their characters.
"Sally asks actors to put a lot of themselves into the characters they create, and whilst I don't have a wife in the attic, there is lots of Rochester I can relate to – he is such a real, broken and fascinating character.
"I think every member of the company has had pivotal roles in creating these characters, the words they say are probably about 50 per cent Brontë, 50 per cent Bristol!" (N_Banyard)
On the book front, The Sydney Morning Herald reviews Claire Harman's biography of Charlotte Brontë.
While Charlotte Brontë's character is revealed here to be as complex as you would expect from the author of such volatile material as Jane Eyre and Villette, I feel Harman perhaps downplays the self-absorption, the contradictions, the impossible standards, even the cruelty (as in her initial rejection of Nicholls) that Brontë displayed.
On the other hand she makes it clear that a few long perpetuated myths are just that. For instance that the Haworth parsonage was grim and unhappy, which has always been at odds with the fact that all the Brontë children disliked being away from home. Patrick Brontë's eccentricities and favouring of his only son aside, it is clear he struggled to provide his children with the best education he could from a very modest income. And, vitally, he opened up his library to them from the time they could first read, creating in a remote environment all the conditions necessary for the flowering of imagination and thus storytelling.
Harman reminds us how, with that one remarkable opening sentence, "There was no possibility of taking a walk that day", Charlotte Brontë in Jane Eyre changed everything about the English novel. She introduced rage, suffering, vivid imagination and astonishing personal energy to the form. [...]
In 1853 George Eliot, yet to publish a novel herself, said Villette was a "still more wonderful book than Jane Eyre". And having re-read the latter recently I am now inspired to return to Villette: that is just one of the many benefits of reading a literary biography as good as this. (Debra Adelaide)
And The Guardian publishes another review of Mick Jackson's Yuki Chan in Brontë Country.
The first surprise of the novel is that there is very little about the Brontës in it; the sisters come in on the sly, the most illuminating detail being that Emily could make bread with one hand while reading from a book of German verse held in the other. Yuki’s mother, it turns out, was more interested in the spirit world, and in the work of real-life experimental psychologist Tomokichi Fukurai (1869-1952), who claimed to have produced photographs of the far side of the moon by using a medium to “reach out for it with his imagination”. That feat was captured as an image on a photographic plate and so became a “thoughtograph”. This novel imagines that Fukurai also visited Haworth where he enlisted the help of a young psychic, Elsie Talbot, in the hope of producing an image of the Brontë sisters. We may draw a parallel here with Jackson, and the idea that anything can be reached for and turned into a plausible composition. [...]
It is brave for a middle-aged male Lancastrian to put himself into the mind of a young Japanese woman, and to bring such disparate elements as clairvoyance, cultural difference and the Brontës together in a story. Yuki can be very funny when negotiating unfamiliar aspects of British life. If those elements don’t add up to a sustaining narrative, they do make for an enjoyable adventure in Brontëland and a novel that is beguilingly odd. And you have to admire a writer whose imagination can run as rampant as Heathcliff out on the moors. (Miranda France)
The Independent discusses how 'writers have long appealed to our fear of mental illness' and illustrates the article with an atmospheric picture of the mad woman's room at Norton Conyers, which may have inspired Charlotte Brontë.
Several 19th-century novels feature figures (usually women) in turbulent mental states who do unnerving things, among them Charlotte Brontë's Bertha Rochester – the original Mad Woman in the Attic – and the title character in Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White. (Ann Morgan)
The article also mentions Sylvia Plath, whose life with Ted Hughes is examined by The Spinoff (New Zealand) and which is of the opinion that
In their personal narratives they cast themselves as Heathcliff and Cathy; as Lady Chatterly and the gamekeeper. (Stephanie Johnson)
Atlas Obscura uses John Ruskin's Modern Painters for an experiment in dating and recalls that
His breathless prose and rhapsodic descriptions also influenced authors we’re more likely to think of as sexy, like George Eliot and Charlotte Brontë, who wrote that Modern Painters “seems to give me eyes.”
This was enough for me. Armed with the perfect tome, I convinced some friends, some coworkers, and myself to bring Modern Painters into a variety of romantic situations, from first dates to longtime evening rituals. (Cara Giaimo)
This columnist from the Hartford Courant has a friend who is undergoing surgery and thus
Uneasy unbeliever that I am, I will ask every person I know of strong faith to send prayers your way. I'll light candles in a small re-enactment of the ritual of the church in which I was raised. Having no shame, I'll ask Virginia Woolf, Florence Nightingale, Emily Brontë and David Bowie to look after you. I'll play your favorite songs until I know you're better. (Gina Barreca)
We wonder, though, whether Emily Brontë is to be trusted when it comes to medical procedures.

This is one of the four reasons given by The Independent as to why 'Leeds is the UK’s best student city':
3) You’re never short of things to do
Leeds is a large city with the best of both worlds. On the one hand, it’s a thriving metropolis with a growing economy. On the other, it’s surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in the UK, with the Yorkshire Dales National Park being easily accessible by car or regular public transport links. Haworth - the village made famous by the Brontës - is an excellent choice for students looking to have a day out without breaking the bank. (Poppie Platt)
Granby Express (France) features young singer Olivier Chagnon:
La passion d'Oliver Chagnon pour les comédies musicales est évidente lorsqu'on regarde les murs de son école de chanson. Des affiches des grandes comédies musicales de Broadway comme The Beauty and The Beast et Jane Eyre y sont accrochées. (Romy Quenneville-Girard) (Translation)
According to MSN New Zealand, the Brontë sisters were some of 'history's greatest cat ladies'.
The famous Brontë sisters not only shared a love of writing, but also a love of cats. Felines are featured in many of the sisters’ writings, including Agnes Grey and Wuthering Heights, as well as in the personal diaries [sic] of Anne and Charlotte.
Emily Brontë even wrote a French essay entitled “Le Chat” (“The Cat”), in which she defends cats against those who argue that they are selfish and cruel, asserting that the disposition of cats is quite similar to that of humans and even arguing that the self-reliance of cats is better than the hypocrisy of humanity.
Murder underground broke the camel's back posts about Wuthering Heights.

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