Jane Eyre and 'I' | Bronte Parsonage Museum - Bronte Parsonage Museum: We've just released a final batch of tickets to see Tracy Chevalier & Maggie O'Farrell speak in Haworth on Friday 4 November. The...
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With a rock musical about the Brontë sisters and a Charlotte Brontë story set in the 22nd Century, a theatre in Yorkshire is trying to change the way we view the famous literary family.
"I'm not that interested in costume drama," says James Brining, artistic director of the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds, discussing the theatre's Brontë season.
You might think being interested in costume drama would be an essential requirement for putting on a season dedicated to the Brontë sisters, whose stage and screen adaptations are rarely without a full set of bodices and bonnets.
But Brining says he wants to "look at the Brontës from as many different perspectives as possible" to explore what they and their stories mean today.
So, in that spirit, a futuristic stage adaptation of Charlotte's final novel Villette catapults the action from 1853 to circa 2216, with the heroine Lucy Snowe depicted as a clone. [...]
"It is about a woman who is invisible," says writer Linda Marshall Griffiths, who has adapted it for the stage.
"A Victorian, unmarried woman, who is thought to be useless in society, and yet she had this vibrant imagination, a fierce mind and an extraordinary voice. And that seemed to be a story that's worth telling now."
In the new West Yorkshire Playhouse version, Lucy is no longer an unassuming Victorian woman - she is a clone who has survived a viral pandemic.
"We could have done bonnets," Marshall Griffiths says. "But when you're adapting or reimagining something, it's worth thinking about how this book can speak to us. Sometimes if you jump into the future it can speak back to us about who we are now."
On Thursday, the West Yorkshire Playhouse will host a debate about which is Charlotte's greatest work - Villette or her more famous debut novel Jane Eyre. Marshall Griffiths, unsurprisingly, votes Villette.
"I think Jane Eyre is all there in Villette, but there's no part of her heart or guts that aren't in Villette," she says. "Also the extraordinary language - it's really potent, deep, poetic, really brilliant stuff.
"It's a harder read but you've got to stick with it. It's such a deep book and there's so much that it's so rich and surprising. It makes my hair stand up when I read it sometimes. It's electrifying." [...]
The Brontë musical, titled Wasted, is a very different sort of show - but it too tackles Charlotte's reaction to the deaths of her siblings.
Wasted will be set in the 19th Century, will tell the story of the family themselves - and will feature actors in bonnets. But it is far from a traditional period retelling.
One song sees Charlotte howling over a grungy guitar: "Why go on writing words in books when the truth is - everybody dies?"
The music is composed by Carl Miller and Christopher Ash, founding member of improvised musical Showstopper!.
"They had really quite difficult lives and there's a lot of strife and struggle going on in their story," Ash says. "The first song that we wrote was called Everybody Dies for Charlotte because she outlives the other three. All of this pain - that's a place to sing rock from." [...]
The show's musical style has an "experimental edge" in an attempt to do justice to the sisters' groundbreaking work, he adds.
"There's straight rock but also really extreme grindcore, synth-pop and jazz-rock with interesting time signatures.
"There are some nods to more traditional musical theatre things, but when people come and see it, we really want them to feel like they're at some level at a gig. We really want to mix those worlds."
Fans of gentle costume drama have been warned.
Villette is at the West Yorkshire Playhouse until 15 October. Wasted is on from 20-22 October. (Ian Youngs)
Coun Turner said; “Most people wanted to keep all of the museums, but the overall survey responses did not suggest an alternative to the three sites we have identified.” The Friends of Red House Museum have campaigned against its closure. Nearly 2,000 people put their name to a petition to keep it open, and the friends group submitted a report which gave 20 reasons why the site should not shut. Chairwoman Jacqueline Ryder said: “We were always hopeful that the council would recognise the importance of Red House not just in North Kirklees, but for Yorkshire and, with the Brontë connection, internationally as well.”
the brooding intensity of a Brontë hero (Dany Margolies)
if he is Mr Rochester and Heathcliff, Darcy and Don Juan, all rolled into one flawed but irresistible package. (Marcus Field)