Sunday, January 01, 2017

Sunday, January 01, 2017 12:30 am by M. in    No comments
After a convulsing, putting it mildly, year in general terms, we are quite happy to see the back of 2016. Nine years after the beginning of the financial crisis we see some patterns emerging, scaringly similar to what happened after 1929. We don't know what 2017 will bring us concerning the decisions that have been made in 2016. Brexit, the Donald... but we know, for certain, that they put the Western world on the brink of a change of scenario. The second world war order is collapsing and time will tell if this is taking us to a new and fairer world or whether this is a point of no return in the decline of Western civilization.

But for us it is different as 2017 will see more of the Brontë bicentenary celebrations. This will be Branwell's year. Certainly, a minor celebration, if we compare it to Charlotte's in 2016 and the upcoming Emily one in 2018 but nonetheless decisive as the story of the few successes and many failures of Branwell Brontë, is intimately entwined with the Brontë sisters' literary output, as Sally Wainwright filmed so energetically in the recent To Walk Invisible.

A new exhibition will mark the bicentenary at the Brontë Parsonage Museum which will feature the advice of Simon Armitage. For the moment we just can confirm the presence of Ursula Holden Gill with a series of storytelling walks on Branwell Bronte's Haworth Haunts, and a talk by Ann Dinsdale at the Brotherton Gallery in the University of Leeds where several Branwell Brontë manuscripts are preserved. On the other hand, 2017 will see the release of the independent documentary film A Humble Station? Branwell Brontë's Calder Valley Years by Alan Wrigley and Simon Zonenblick.

The book year will begin with a new biography of Anne Brontë by Samantha Ellis with the powerful title of Take Courage. Anne Brontë and the Art of Life. Other books with biographical elements bringing the Brontës to general audiences will be The Secret History of Jane Eyre. How Charlotte Brontë Wrote her Masterpiece where John Pfordresher explores the inner story of the creation of Jane Eyre. A Secret Sisterhood. The Hidden Friendships of Austen, Brontë Eliot and Woolf  by Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney has a chapter focused on the relationship between Charlotte and Mary Taylor. On a lighter note, we will read A Girl Walks Into a Book. What the Brontës Taught Me about Life, Love, and Women’s Work by Miranda Pennington.

New Jane Eyre retellings will be published: a Manga edition of Jane Eyre is already available. Michelle Gagnon writes a YA contemporary version set in San Francisco, Unearthly Things. A more serious (no pejorative hint) fictional approach using the Brontës will be Drinks With Dead Poets A Season of Poe, Whitman, Byron, and the Brontës by the poet Glyn Maxwell, where the Brontës interact with other poets in a sort of Brigadoon in verse.

The scholarly publications will go quieter this year after the surge in releases in 2016. Only one confirmed book in our agenda: Charlotte Brontë: Legacies and Afterlives by Amber Regis and Deborah Wynne. Furthermore, in August, the conference The Coarseness of the Brontës: A Reappraisal will take place at Durham University being the keynote speakers, Professor Marianne Thormählen, Dr. Sarah Wootton and Robert Edric.

The audiovisual world will still be dominated by the shadow of To Walk Invisible. The BBC production will be available on DVD (Region 2) tomorrow, January 2 and it will be screened in the US next March 26 (PBS). An exhibition of costumes, props, and photography: To Walk Invisible. From Parsonage to Production will be on at the Parsonage for the whole year. On the other hand, we suppose that the independent production Wuthering Heights directed and written by Elisaveta Abrahall will be premiered this year, but we don't know about final exhibition format yet. Still no clear news on the status of the Brontë biopic written and directed by David Anthony Thomas. Although his latest Facebook entry is fairly optimistic.

On theater, the National Theatre acclaimed Jane Eyre production by Sally Cookson will tour the UK. New adaptations of Jane Eyre will be seen at Haddon Hall and Barcelona (Spain) and of Wuthering Heights in Thessaloniki (Greece) and Genève (Switzerland). A Jane Eyre musical adaptation by Anne Dalton will open in several UK cities. An adaptation of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Deborah McAndrew will be premiered in Bolton. A new choreography inspired by Wuthering Heights (created by Alonzo King) will be premiered by the Charlotte ballet.

And of course we will have the usual suspects: Publick Transport's We Are Brontë will continue touring the UK, new performances of the Kim Breitburg's Jane Eyre musical will be performed in Estonia, the Polly Teale adaptations will be presented here and there: a Jane Eyre in Cincinnati or Milwaukee, a Brontë in Hillsboro ...

To conclude, let's just say, in a very Branny-ish way, Cheers to everybody and have a fantastic new year.


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