Saturday, October 01, 2016

WhatsonStage interviews Jessica Curtis, the set designer of the West Yorkshire Playhouse production of Villette:
Picture: Anthony Robling
The story is quite complex. It is an adaptation of Charlotte Brontë's last novel, Villette. It deals in exile, grief, yearning and loneliness, and finally, the hope of continued life and love. Linda's bold re-imagining follows the same arc, but places the protagonist Lucy Snowe 150 years into the future.
Her alienation comes from her state as a clone. She and her two sisters have been ‘created' by a leading virologist trying to make a scientific workforce to save the world from a viral pandemic. The virus kills her sisters, but she survives to escape the facility and join an archaeological dig in Villette. Lucy's arrival into their isolated and claustrophobic world triggers an upheaval that eventually brings her the hope of love.
There are practical challenges in the script, which is multi-locational, and edits between spaces in a filmic style. Linda described the movement between scenes with words like "melting", "shifting" and "blending", so it was clear that we would need to create a space from which multiple locations could emerge effortlessly.
All my initial images were foggy, minimal, cool, and atmospheric; often about the thresholds between nature and built structures that were clean and absolute. I considered floor-to-ceiling glass windows in office spaces that looked out over lush landscapes, modernist concrete architecture hovering over pools of water.
There is a cool detachment in Lucy and in the clinical environment she inhabits, so the "future" reference that I looked at was of the sleek and pared back variety- 2001 AD was an obvious example. In our text however, it seemed that the idea of the future was less a Tomorrow's World prophesy, and more a way of removing the story into a no-time, to release it, while using the idea of the clone as a way of investigating identity and self. (Read more)
Richard Wilcocks on the Brontë Parsonage Blog reviews the production too.

OperaNews reviews the recent release of Carlisle Floyd's Wuthering Heights first CD recording by the Florentine Opera Company:
The opera began as a concert aria, written at the request of Phyllis Curtin, who’d created the role of Susannah. Floyd set a famous speech (“Nelly, do you never dream queer dreams?”) from Emily Brontë’s 1847 novel, and Curtin performed “The Dream” at her Town Hall recital in February 1957. On the strength of this aria, Floyd was commissioned to write a complete opera—“a musical drama in prologue and three acts”—for John Crosby’s new Santa Fe Opera. Wuthering Heights had its premiere there on July 16, 1958, with Curtin as Cathy and Robert Trehy as Heathcliff, and its New York City Opera premiere followed a year later (with Curtin and John Reardon) before the work slipped into relative obscurity.
Wuthering Heights, with its doomed lovers and windswept Yorkshire moors, would seem to be an ideal candidate for an opera. But it has some tough competition—not Bernard Herrmann’s sugary 1951 adaptation or Frédéric Chaslin’s recent operatic treatment, but the 1939 film (directed by William Wyler, starring Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon) with an ultra-romantic, emotive score by Alfred Newman. (Newman’s “Cathy’s Theme,” with its echoes of Puccini, can elicit the same kind of trembling weepiness as “Sola, perduta, abbandonata.”)
Floyd, who pored over Brontë before tackling the libretto, strived to contemporize the novel’s “stilted and melodramatic” dialogue, make Heathcliff more sympathetic, and have Cathy experience a “tragic enlightenment.” And he did all three, thanks to his gifts as a master dramatist.
Musically, the opera, which begins with a melancholy, menacing five-note motif, is irregularly successful. Among the highlights are a lovely, lyrical Act I duet for Cathy and Heathcliff (“There is no death in heaven”) and Heathcliff’s imploring, impassioned “Was there ever another place” in the subsequent scene; Nelly’s Act II aria (a pep talk to boost Heathcliff’s self-esteem) and the lush, haunting orchestral interlude in the same act; Edgar’s poignant, poetic plea (“Marry me, Cathy”); and Cathy’s “Dream” aria, which closes Act II. Floyd marked this climactic number “agitato” and filled it with clashes of dissonance and high-flying vocal leaps. (Rebecca Paller)
The Xenia Daily Gazette presents the Cedarville production of Jane Eyre in the Christine Calvit adaptation:
Stage manager Katie Gilbert said they choose “Jane Eyre” because they really wanted to move away from the more traditional romance stories where a woman strives to find a husband.
“We really wanted to bring to the Cedarville stage [a story] that the end goal wasn’t the woman needs a husband,” Gilbert said. “I mean that’s a beautiful thing and what a lot of women want but we wanted a story where the woman had all that, but doesn’t really need it to have a fulfilled life.”
Senior Alana Perry, playing Jane Eyre, said what she loves most about this story is that Jane is a much more grounded character who values compassion and forgiveness than her desire for love.
“It is a romantic story,” Perry said. “But that’s totally not the focus or at least not for me. It’s way more about the shaping of the individual. It’s way more about her coming to understand herself and her religion, her faith before entering into a romantic relationship. She really has to come to terms with her identity and where she fits into the world and God’s plan.”
Since “Jane Eyre” is a well-known gothic classic, Gilbert said they had to get creative when trying to put Cedarville’s unique spin on the story. She turned to her lights director, Senior Megan Howell, to enhance the visual aspects of the story. (Emily Day)
Impact Magazine has a couple of Brontë-related articles. The first one on Heathcliff: Villain or Victim?
Heart-throb or heart-breaker? Man or monster?
It’s fair to say that most of us must have come across Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights at some point in our lives so far. Whether this was at school, you simply stumbled across it or even if you’ve just seen the films. Charlotte Brontë is famously known to dislike Wuthering Heights, in particular the character of Heathcliff, writing in the 1880 preface to the novel that ‘Whether it is right or advisable to create beings like Heathcliff, I do not know: I scarcely think it is’. Therefore, this novel has sparked many a debate about one of the main characters – Heathcliff. On the one side he is a twisted, dog-murdering stalker, on the other he is a misunderstood, heartbroken romantic. Here our two Impact Arts editors weigh in on opposing sides of this debate. Whichever side you’re on, it would be difficult to argue that Wuthering Heights would be half as great without him. (Lizzie Robinson & Amy Wilcockson)
The other one talks about The Secret Life Of Rochester’s First Wife:
Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea is a parallel novel to Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, following the story of Mr Rochester and Bertha Mason, his first wife who is seen in Jane Eyre mainly as the madwoman kept secretly hidden away in the attic.
The connection to Jane Eyre is something which Rhys alludes to both in the names of the characters and the depiction of a fire at the end of the story, coinciding with the fire seen in Brontë’s novel; a connection which is demonstrated subtly rather than being overtly referenced. (Alice Ellen)
The greatest Yorkshire women in The Yorkshire Post:
6. The Brontë sisters (literature). Charlotte, Emily and Anne took the literary world by storm from their parsonage home in Haworth. (Grace Newton)
Andrea Arnold's new film American Honey is discussed by New Jersey Online:
[Robbie Ryan has] worked with Arnold before, and they revisit, with less relevance, some of the same tics of their "Wuthering Heights" (there is such a peculiar obsession with bugs, at times the film feels like a nature documentary).  (Stephen Whitty)
And The Upcoming reviews the film Une Vie by Stéphane Brizé which
is shot in academy ratio, and has a brisk, elemental visual style that is reminiscent of Andrea Arnold’s superb Wuthering Heights. (Sam Gray)
The Durham Chronicle interviews Charles Fernyhough, author of The Voices Within. The History and Science of How We Talk to Ourselves:
The novelist part is important, not least because The Voices Within is a far more entertaining read than you might expect from serious academia, but also because the book draws on the inner lives of the greatest characters ever written such as Jane Eyre and Mrs Dalloway, as case studies in how inner speech reflects a person’s experience. (Laura Fraine)
The Lancashire Evening News explains how Lancashire has influenced British writers:
As well as Tolkien’s trail, a Brontë’s trail has also been made. The 4.5 mile walk lets you follow in the footsteps of the Brontë sisters, as they strolled around the ruins of Wycoller Hall, near Colne, where the sisters frequently liked to visit.
It is believed that Wycoller Hall was in fact the inspiration for Ferndean Manor in Charlotte Brontë’s novel Jane Eyre and the building was illustrated for the 1898 Jane Eyre edition.
The Herald reviews the republishing of Mary Stewart's The Wind Off the Small Isles:
Following the immediate acclaim for her debut, which came out in 1954, very soon, with titles such as Nine Coaches Waiting and This Rough Magic Stewart became one of the best-selling thriller writers of her day, her pacy plots and effortlessly clear writing making her an almost overnight literary sensation. Some hailed her as “the natural successor of Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë”, yet you will need the exploratory skills of Indiana Jones to find any interview with her in the archives. (Rosemary Goring)
Daily Mail interviews the BBC host Naga Munchetty:
This is my Penguin edition of Wuthering Heights from when I was doing English A-level. I was 16 and I thought it would be laborious and dull, but it was a real eye-opener. It’s a raw, mean love story full of passion and I absolutely devoured it.
I still read it once every couple of years and this edition is littered with my notes in red Biro, which are fun to read all these years later. I ended up getting an A grade. Reading is a big love in my life and our study is rammed with at least 300 books. (Rob McGibbon)
New Orleans Magazine wonders if magazines are good for your health:
My own first reading material for pleasure were Archie comic books. I read them along with titles such as Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist and Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. That reading list may sound an odd combo, but the latter titles, leather-bound and oh so deep, were the only novels in the house. A newspaper came each day, but as is true of most children meeting puberty, news of the latest train wreck wasn’t yet interesting, We acquired a set of Encyclopaedia Britannica ostensibly for the occasional school book report, but was, in fact, my working class father’s excuse for shelling out the money. My mother probably didn’t need convincing; after all, she brought in Dickens and Brontë, but it did turn out that he was the only one to read those fact-filled pages – from the beginning of A to the end of Z. (Dawn Ruth Wilson)
Not the first time we read this story. Richard Coyle is interviewed in The Telegraph:
When he heard that Franco Zeffirelli was filming an adaptation of Jane Eyre near his parents’ house in Derbyshire, Coyle auditioned as a non-speaking extra. “I was the footman, and a coach passenger, and one of the horse grooms, and all sorts,” he says. “I’m all over that film. It’s hilarious.” (Tristram Fane Saunders)
Jeffrey St Claire describes a screening of Wuthering Heights 1992 in Counterpunch:
With a thick Oregon fog enwrapping the house, Zen St. Clair and I sat before the fire and watched the Binoche/Fiennes 1992 version of ‘Wuthering Heights’ this week. It sticks unnervingly close to Emily’s text, unlike the celebrated Olivier / Oberon version. Every social convention and moral norm is enthusiastically overturned, if not annihilated. It’s the equivalent of the French Revolution for English literature. I remember [Alexander] Cockburn saying, “How could that young, sickly girl have written the greatest English novel of the 19th century?”
Binoche is hauntingly, fatally beautiful; Fiennes’s Heathcliff is an obsessive fiend–repulsive, feral and irresistable. The film is enhanced, for me at least, by my old nemesis (we’ve since kissed and made up) Sinéad O’Connor, who narrates and briefly appears all swaddled up in a bonnet and wind-blown cape as Emily, giving just a hint of the ferocious mind Brontë must have possessed. The Yorkshire Moors have never looked more intoxicating or treacherous. Highly recommended for doomed Romantics.
Los Angeles Review of Books reviews The Great Derangement. Climate Change and the Unthinkable by Amitav Ghosh:
Writing on climate change usually involves a linear narrative replete with technical vocabulary. Ghosh proceeds differently. He lays out literary imagery invoking writers such as Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, Charlotte Brontë, Tolstoy, Wordsworth, Shelley, Byron, Steinbeck, and Blake. (Yugank Goyal)
The death of fruit machines in Financial Times:
A lost weekend in Vegas is not an option when you have responsibilities, but 10 minutes lost in private in the half-light can do the trick. A lime and soda in one hand, your hair scooped back in a rubber band, your handbag hooked over the crook of your arm, a pocket full of coins, and you’re ready to roll. For a few minutes you are entirely “off”. You expect nothing of yourself and neither does anyone else. The illusion of transgression can be ever so soothing. That little thrill of disgrace. You can’t lead your whole life thinking, what would Jane Eyre do? Striding across moors is all well and good but a life that is too wholesome is not worth living. (Susie Boyt)
Newsday (Trinidad and Tobago) reviews the film Play the Devil by Maria Govan:
The trope of doomed love between two people of widely differing ages is a classic one in art. Consider Nabokov’s Lolita, Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and Eliot’s Middlemarch. In all of these male cougar stories, the love under examination is heterosexual. Here, the film-makers flip the switch. (Andre Bagoo)
RioTact! reviews the FashFest 2016 in Canberra:
Megan Cannings’ romantic gowns were a floaty vision of soft colours, lace and intricate leaf and flower detailing. The teased up-dos complemented the looks well, conjuring images of Marie Antoinette and long walks along blustery moors à la Wuthering Heights all at once. (Heather Lansdowne)
Not the only fashion reference today. The Paris Fashion Week is covered in Le Monde (France):
La ligne sensible et sombre d’Ann Demeulemeester est, elle aussi, imperméable à ce culte très normatif de la « Parisienne ». C’est désormais Sébastien Meunier qui entretient la flamme de cette marque belge à l’allure immuable. En tailleur-pantalon et longue chemise à col et poignets détachables, mi-rock mi-monacale, gainée dans une veste rayée noire et pourpre, ou le buste à peine voilé de mousseline noire et violet sombre, cette femme sensuelle a du caractère. Hors du temps et de la tendance, on la sent à l’aise partout, des « Hauts de Hurlevent » aux grandes capitales du monde. (Carine Bizet) (Translation)
And La Repubblica (Italy):
La nuova collezione estiva è un vulcano di idee trattenuto sotto una superficie di cenere. È come uno Stromboli che avvisa della sua potenza con boati improvvisi. La tuta da sub arrotolata ai fianchi diventa un abito con corpetto color carne; le coulisse delle divise sportive si attorcigliano sugli abiti per inventare nuovi drappeggi; l'immancabile trench di Martin [Margiela] ritorna sotto forma di abito da sera; il parka di organza si trasforma in una creatura elisabettiana; e i pizzi a contrasto sembrano attualizzare l'ansia e l'austerità di Cime Tempestose in un costume moderno. (Simone Marchetti) (Translation)
El Nacional (Venezuela) talks about the upcoming Cumbres Borrascosas TV series by Zap Novelas:
Telenovelas que pueden resumirse en cinco episodios de una hora y que pueden verse en cualquier plataforma audiovisual es la propuesta de creadores que adaptarán clásicos de la literatura universal como Cyrano de Bergerac, Romeo y Julieta, El retrato de Dorian Gray, La bella y la bestia, Otelo y Macbeth a los códigos de la pantalla chica.
Zap Novelas, al igual que Escándalos, convocará a varias productoras de América Latina y Estados Unidos. Venezuela estrenará el formato con Cumbres borrascosas, dirigida por Tony Rodríguez y producida por Jhony Pulido.
“La idea de adaptar clásicos universales es algo que siempre he querido hacer. Por más avances tecnológicos que existan, el hombre sigue manteniendo su esencia. Por esa razón estas historias perduran, pues llegan muy hondo en las emociones y los sentimientos más primitivos del ser humano”, expresa Rodríguez, quien además pretende que nuevas generaciones conozcan estas tramas trasladadas a la modernidad.
Michelle de Andrade y Orlando Delgado son los protagonistas de Cumbres borrascosas, basada en la obra de la escritora británica Emily Brontë.
“El reto para mí como director era buscar la manera de desarrollar esa historia de amor en un mundo tan oscuro y que al mismo tiempo el espectador se enamore de esa parte lúgubre. Lograr que esos personajes trágicos inspiraran una belleza interior”, señala el director.
El reparto lo completan Juvel Vielma, Leandro Arvelo, Cris Henríquez, Shakti Maal, Haydée Faverola, Alejandro Mata, Catherine Cardozo, Randy Piñango, Jorge Palacios y Miguel de León. “Ha sido una experiencia enriquecedora porque en el elenco se mezcla la gente del teatro con la del cine y la televisión. Estamos buscando un lenguaje venezolanamente universal”, afirma Rodríguez. (Iván Zambrano) (Translation)
Quotidiano (Italy) recommends books for autumn:
'Cime tempestose', di Emily Brontë
Amore, passione, gelosia, ossessione struggente, ecco gli ingredienti del capolavoro della Brontë, ambientato nella malinconica brughiera dello Yorkshire. La scrittrice inglese ha saputo raccogliere e restituire con uno stile che arriva fino ai nostri giorni l'essenza dei sentimenti che consumano, esplorando la distruzione che l'uomo rischia nel lasciarsi guidare dalle sole passioni. (Translation)
Chesapeake Bay Weekly recommends Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair;  The Friday Reads of the JSTOR Daily is an article from Patsy Stoneman:  Feminist criticism of "Wuthering Heights", Critical Survey, Vol. 4, No. 2, Feminist criticism (1992), pp. 147-153. Fauquier News has a Emily Brontë autumn quote and The Huffington Post finds a Charlotte Brontë gourd quote.

Mixed Up SayDee reviews Jane Eyre. Full of books posts about Reader, I Married Him, edited by Tracy Chevalier. LitChatte talks about Jane Eyre in relation with Charlotte Brontë's biography.


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