Tuesday, October 04, 2016

So Kirklees Council voted to close the Red House Museum. Shame on you. No budget adjustment, no austerity fundamentalism can justify to sell your own history.  From The Telegraph and Argus:
A final decision has been taken today to close a museum with strong links to the Brontës amid cuts to the museums and galleries budget in Kirklees.
Red House Museum in Gomersal is one of two museums that will close by the end of March next year at the latest as Kirklees Council centres on retaining three museum venues under its new vision for culture in the district.
The authority’s museums and galleries budget is being cut by half from April next year, and plans were therefore drawn up to restructure the service.
The decision was taken yesterday by the council’s cabinet to close historic Red House, where Charlotte Brontë was a frequent visitor, immortalising the house in her second novel, Shirley, as well as Dewsbury Museum. [...]
Last week, John Thirwell, chairman of the Brontë Society, said it was “concerned and saddened” to learn of the likely closure of Red House, but said it would continue conversations with the authority to explore how the Brontës’ links with the building could be maintained.
But, during yesterday’s meeting, Graham Turner, cabinet member for Creative Kirklees, said the society were “not interested” in taking on the site.
He said: “We have spoken to many organisations in the museums and heritage sector, and no-one has expressed an interest in taking on any of the sites.”
On Red House, he said: “We have spoken to the Brontë Society, they are not interested.”
He said that cuts to Government funding had led to the budget for the museums service being cut by £531,000.
“No-one in this chamber wants to cut the museums service,” he said.
“But, this is not a statutory service, we didn’t have to do a consultation but we went out of our way to engage with the public.
“If anyone has any ideas on how we can save these services, then please speak to us, immediately.” (Rob Lowson)
BBC News reports it as well:
A museum with close links to the Brontës is set to close under plans to restructure museums and galleries in an area of West Yorkshire.
Kirklees Council voted to close Dewsbury Museum and Red House Museum in Gomersal at a cabinet meeting. [...]
Opponents said the Red House Museum building should be protected because of its history and links to the Brontës.
Charlotte Brontë often visited Red House and featured it in her novel Shirley.
As well as an exhibition in honour of the author, the museum, which was once home to a cloth merchant, charts what life was like in the 1830s.
Supporters of Dewsbury Museum, which has recently been renovated, urged officials to keep it open.
The town's museum is the oldest in the district, opening to visitors in 1896.
It features a toy gallery and a recreation of a classroom in the 1940s.
The Labour-led authority said its hands were tied due to austerity measures, and Dewsbury and Red House would close by 31 March 2017.
It said it was willing to hold talks with any group, or interested parties about future uses for the museum buildings.
Both museums have seen a sharp fall in visitors in recent years.
In 2011-12, Red House had 26,665 visitors, compared to 6,679 in 2015/16
March 31 being the anniversary of the death of Charlotte Brontë.

A Younger Theatre reviews the West Yorkshire Playhouse production of Villette.
Upon walking into the Courtyard Theatre, I couldn’t help but be in awe of Villette‘s striking set, beautifully designed by Jess Curtis. A realistic, visually pleasing sense of attention to detail permeates the border of earth and the imposing angles of steel modernity that sit centre stage. What makes Villette‘s overall visual concept more interesting is the use of multimedia, designed by Andrzej Goulding, which comes in the form of live camera feeds and projections. Topping off Villette‘s scenography are Chris Davey’s pleasant lighting design and John Harris’s atmospheric sound design. All of these production aspects combined come together to form a visually stunning, well-considered scenography.
But after the novelty of Villette‘s textured scenography wore off, I began to notice some rather grating problems with the production. Credit must be due to Marshall-Griffith for her bravery in taking Brontë’s novel so far from its original roots, even going so far as to echo Brontë’s own struggles within protagonist Lucy. But at times, the play’s fragmented structure grew confusing and repetitive – inconsistency caused it to gradually grow tiresome.
Layered over this tricky playtext are some rather conflicted performances. Elsworthy constructs a fragile, fidgety person who’s incredibly estranged from the world, and does so with a similar attention to detail as Villette‘s designers do in their vision of the play. Yet, there are times when Elsworthy’s character doesn’t seem to veer much along its trajectory, and rather than her outwardly spoken inner monologues becoming a motif, they become somewhat despondent. Accompanying this central performance are those of the rest of the company, which unfortunately don’t feel fully developed, and seem to lack the confidence and belief in the text to champion its confused cause.
A lack of dynamism and overall energy seems to plague Villette, with the performers regularly missing important beats and moments of suspended pace that would seem perfectly at home in Marshall-Griffith’s icy text, full of short sentences that offer an interesting textural landscape for director Rosenblatt to grapple with. Instead, sequences of dialogue seem rushed, and as a result, there’s a feeling of inaccessibility that prevents Villette‘s audience from trusting the path it treads.
It’s a real shame, since there’s a clear and unique concept behind this production marking the 200th anniversary of Charlotte Brontë’s birth. The stunning set design and overall scenography showed some real promise, and suggested that Villette might have been something truly special and exciting. Instead, it becomes a piece that never quite reaches its audience and fails to guide it along a journey of love, redemption and coming to terms with the past. (Adam Bruce)
The Typewriter reviews Sally Cookson's stage adaptation of Jane Eyre.
 The acting chops of the company are solid and faithful to the novel. The acting is meaty and emotional enough to sustain such a representation of the piece. Kudos to Madeleine Worrall and Felix Hayes, who play Jane and Rochester in the characters’ finest condition.
In my memory, never have I seen any Jane Eyre who is so fierce and direct, while Rochester is delivered as a beast who is rude and vulgar. It is very important to get these two characters right and novel in order to achieve any kind of symbolisation on stage. This particular production is a very good example of how to do it right. (Clement Lee)
Thornfield Hall is one of '10 Haunted Houses In Literature That Prove Not Even 'Home Sweet Home' Is Safe From Ghosts' selected by Bustle.
1. Thornfield Hall
A house doesn't always need a ghost to be haunted. Sometimes a mentally-unsound attic wife does the trick. Jane Eyre's Thornfield Hall isn't especially supernatural, but it is haunted by strange sounds, distant cackling, and a madwoman in the attic who sets people's beds on fire. Poor Bertha really just needed someone to take her out of that attic and take her to a mental health professional. (Charlotte Ahlin)
Paper Magazine recommends '8 movies to see in October' one of which is The Handmaiden.
Spellbindingly perverse new wonder from Park Chan-wook (Oldboy) set in 1930s Japan where a seasoned Korean pickpocket Sook-hee (Kim Tae-ri) is sent to work at a remote mansion and become the new maid servant to Lady Hideko (Kim Min-hee). This is all a plot by the Count (Ha Jung-wool) to woo and rob the wealthy heiress. The decadent uncle (Cho Jin-woong), with his collection of rare erotica, hovers over the house like a sinister spider, and Sook-hee finds herself drawn into a sensual relationship with the beautiful Hideko. Is this a sapphic Jane Eyre? Trust me, nothing is at it seems in this sinfully enjoyable melodrama that keeps pulling the rug out from under you at every turn. With sumptuous art direction and sardonic humor this is a real kinky treasure. (Dennis Dermody)
The Austin Chronicle reviews the film Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl.
This is clapboard Gothic, all shadows and silhouettes against faded whitewashed walls, every line delivered as an ominous whisper. Beth revels in this, calling Adele's life "so Jane Eyre-ish." But where does Adele really fit into this Gothic trope? Is she the poor indentured servant, slaving away with a crazy lady in the attic? Or do she and Beth fulfill a more sinister role? And who exactly is pulling who down the rabbit hole? (Richard Whittaker)
More Gothic Jane Eyre vibes in this Paste magazine interview to Sarah Vaughn, author of the new comic Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love and asks about her influences.
Paste: Berenice, the protagonist, is clearly entrenched in the romantic aspects of the book, but she’s also isolated from the other characters by her fears and abilities, which is a common theme in a lot of Romantic and early feminist literature. There are pages in issue one in particular reminiscent of stories like Jane Eyre and The Yellow Wallpaper. Did you have any specific literary inspirations you turned to while working on this book? Vaughn: No specific inspirations, though I’ve read Jane Eyre a few times, and other gothic horror such as The Mysteries of Udolpho and The Italian by Ann Radcliffe. Georgette Heyer actually wrote a couple, too. And the gothic romance novella was very popular in the 1960s. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen was really the first book that got me into them (hence Ann Radcliffe).
But really, the inspiration was Deadman and his abilities, and thinking about characters who would be really great to interact with in that regard. Gothic horror so often revolves around a house with mystery, so that just seemed to be a given, and I wanted everyone to need to interact with the house, too. (Caitlin Rosberg)
Crime Fiction Lover has selected 'the top 10 fictional bitches'. No Brontë characters are selected for obvious reasons (the Brontës didn't write crime fiction), even though Cathy from Wuthering Heights is mentioned in the reason behind the selection.
In 2013, American novelist Meg Wolitzer commented that, “One thing I’ve noticed that’s a kind of disturbing trend is fiction about and by women who the reader is meant to feel ‘comfortable’ around – what I call slumber party fiction – as though the characters are stand-ins for your best friends.”
I know exactly what she means – although there ought to be novels to suit every mood and surely we all need our ‘comfort reads’ at times? But, thinking about all of my favourite books, I realise that for every Jo March, Elizabeth Bennet or Flora Poste there are at least a half-a-dozen female characters who wouldn’t be anybody’s best friend – assuming, that is, that they knew as much about them as the reader does. In trying to compile this top ten list, I found that I was spoiled for choice – Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind, Catherine Earnshaw from Wuthering Heights, Bertha Dorset from The House of Mirth and Cordelia from Cat’s Eye are just a handful of those who didn’t quite make the cut, and there were plenty of others.
Il Sole 24 Ore (Italy) reviews André Téchiné's film Quand on a 17 ans.
Thom abita in una arretrata fattoria di montagna e impiega un’ora e mezza a scendere a valle ogni giorno. Sembra l’Heathcliff di Cime tempestose di Andrea Arnold, solitario, impotente verso se stesso e le pulsioni che lo muovono. (Translation)
SBS (Australia) picks up the story of the 'unmasking' of the real person behind the pseudonym of Elena Ferrante. The Brontës' use of noms de plume is obviously brought up.
Women like J. K. Rowling, Agatha Christie and the Brontë sisters all wrote under pseudonyms at one point, and for many reasons, be they the need to branch out from genres they’re known for, or to branch out from the misogyny that comes with the territory of being a female author. Whatever their reasons may be, if you decide that your right to expose someone who’s doing absolutely no harm to anyone trumps their right to privacy, then don’t try to couch your voyeuristic transgression in the name of gaining insights into ‘the truth.’ (Bish Marzook)
Washingtonian mentions it too in a story about Elena Ferrante.

TravelPulse offers '4 Inspirational Reasons To Plan Your UK Holiday', one of which is
Brontë 200
Meanwhile, a five-year programme continues to celebrate the bicentenaries of the births of four of the Brontës: Charlotte in 2016, Branwell in 2017, Emily in 2018 and Anne in 2020.  In 2019, the Brontë Society will celebrate Rev Patrick Brontë, 200 years after he was invited to take up the role of parson in Haworth. Add to this Beatrix Potter in the Lake District, James Herriot in the Yorkshire Dales and “Victoria” in various Yorkshire locations and you’ve just found the ingredients for another inspired look at your old friend Britain. (Paull Tickner)
Research in English at Durham focuses on the homely life aspects of the Brontë diary papers. Mimi Loves All 8 posts about Wuthering Heights and is giving away a copy of the novel.

1 comment:

  1. Joe O'Donoghue10/05/2016 03:59:00 pm

    Surprised by Kirklees Council's assertion that the Bronte Society are showning no interest in taking over Red House.

    Would welcome some clarification from a BS spokesperson.