Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Tuesday, May 02, 2017 11:54 am by Cristina in , , , , , ,    No comments
Milwaukee Magazine reviews the Rep's production of Polly Teale's Jane Eyre.
The Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s production of Jane Eyre is full of great faces—animated, evocative, enigmatic faces. Which is to say it is beautifully and brilliantly acted. A co-production with Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, director KJ Sanchez’s staging comes to Milwaukee after a four-week run there, and the actors have obviously grown into their performances and bring Brontë’s characters to full-blooded life.
Keep your eye on Margaret Ivey (Jane), for example, as if you had a choice. Jane is at the center of the story, of course. But as an orphaned girl of the lower classes, she is at the bottom of the social hierarchy, and spends more of her time reacting to others rather than stepping forward herself. In Ivey’s performance, however, there is never doubt that there is a keen mind and large, heroic heart behind Jane’s deference and her slowly blooming independence.
Then turn your attention to Michael Sharon, a commanding presence as Rochester, but clearly playing at his authority and power while struggling with his secretive past. When the two of them play a scene together, there’s always a chess match beneath the banter, and one of the joys of the production is watching the proprieties and rigid social order fall away to reveal the warm, human emotions that lie beneath. [...]
Director Sanchez gives her lead actors a rich environment in which to act their story. Kris Stone’s set is a simple set of ramps and stairs, but the performances give them colorful life. Each member of the ensemble—Damian Baldet, Rebecca Hirota, Tina Stafford, Christine Toy Johnson, and Andy Paterson–plays multiple roles, as well as providing music to accompany the scenes. Hirota, in particular, is worth mentioning for her gleeful sketch of Rochester’s ward, Adele. In the novel, Adele is all but absent. But Teale brings her character forward, giving her an irrepressible energy and joy that is mere annoyance to the bulk of Victorian society. She, perhaps, is another of Jane’s spiritual doppelgangers, the image of a girl free to assert herself and find her joy, even in a world that sets itself against such enlightened journeys. (Paul Kosidowski)
Urban Milwaukee has enjoyed it too.
The texture of this piece is closer to the liberating, modernistic aspects of Brontë’s novel, capturing the interior trauma of a much abused orphan and subservient governess growing through pluck, will and spiritual determination into one of literature’s most famous, moral and yet rebellious heroines. But any vision of Jane Eyre as some kind of Gothic horror tale or moor-laced gallop into 18th century brooding Britain should vanish from your expectations. [...]
Rather than giving in to the romantic heritage surrounding the original novel, director Sanchez has chosen a cool reflective approach that guides the actors to stir us with an intonation or a slight change of the face, letting skilled movement signal the emotional changes. That technical style may surprise some patrons but it is deftly rendered.
The playwright and the production’s methods falter quite a bit in the second act. Even some intimate acting can’t salvage this section when the psychological device becomes superfluous. But it is a first act that will linger in the mind. You will never read Brontë the same way again. (Dominique Paul Noth)
Cherwell has an article by Rebekah King, assistant director of Thistledown Theatre's production of Polly Teale's Brontë, currently on stage at The Old Library, Oxford.
Adjusting the bosom of another woman, as you pull closed the clasps on her corset, is an intimacy best reserved for the more advanced months of a friendship. Unless, of course, you are Assistant Director for a period-costume play, in which case you may find yourself fondling others and making introductions at once:
“Hello, I’m Rebekah; I’ll be helping Sarah out.”
“Hi, I’m playing Charlotte Brontë. Should I take my bra off first?”
To be an Assistant Director is to multitask. One has, therefore, a truly unique perspective: a hands-on closeness to all aspects of production.
As first mate, I have watched the captain of our ship bring Brontë safely into port. Sarah Pyper (a development officer at St Peter’s) is one of those directors whom actors and production folk alike adore. She is intelligent, practical, and calm, and has done wonders with a difficult but rewarding script.
Here’s the problem: Polly Teale (our author) wants to write for television. Many’s the time when Sarah has cursed her for a stage direction such as ‘Lights change: it is 1835’ (“Ah!” thinks the lighting designer, “I’ll fetch my 1835 bulbs”) or ‘Emily releases the hawk’ (“How expensive is it to hire a bird of prey for a fortnight?”). But once the tidying up was done, Brontë started to look like a touching and, at times, truly poetic script: a fitting cousin for the BBC’s recent To Walk Invisible.
If you know and love the Brontës, this is a play for you. (Read more)
The Brooklyn Rail interviews writer Siri Hustvedt and she looks back on the time she decided to become a writer:
Rail: Is that when you first got hooked on Charles Dickens, on whom you wrote your dissertation at Columbia?
Hustvedt: Yes, I read David Copperfield the summer after I turned thirteen. My father was studying the Icelandic Sagas, and the family spent an entire summer in Reykjavik. The city library had lots of English books. My mother recommended titles, and I read them. I read dozens of novels. I read all the time. I never stopped—in part because I had insomnia—it never got dark; my diurnal rhythms were screwed up—and so I stayed up and read long books in three or four days: Jane Austen, Mark Twain, the Brontës, Dumas, Dickens. That summer I decided to become a writer. (Jarrett Earnest)
This columnist from BookRiot wonders whether there's 'a right age to read certain books'.
I read Wuthering Heights when I was sixteen. You might think that’s the perfect time to read a book about obsessive, all-consuming love, and the terrible things two kind-of-awful people do to their families and each other in the name of said love. But I didn’t enjoy the book. I never really thought about why—just that I couldn’t connect to the characters. I haven’t read it since. (Kathleen Keenan)
Today's review of Lady Macbeth comes from Broadly:
Screenwriter Alice Birch adapted Nikolai Leskov's 1865 novella Lady Macbeth of the Mtensk District, relocating its austere Victoriana to a large, draughty house in Northumberland, northern England. Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights is a favourite of Birch's, and director William Oldroyd conjures an identical landscape with wide-angle shots of the forests and moors that Katherine longs to roam. (Sophie Wilkinson)
The Wesleyan Argus discusses the literary mash-ups from a few years ago.
A fairly recent trend in fiction also picks up on this incongruous blend: combining already existing classic novels with violent, often supernatural elements, resulting in a genre often referred to as the mashup novel. Seth Grahame-Smith’s “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” which adds the looming threat of a zombie apocalypse to Jane Austen’s tale of love and social niceties in 19th-century England, is probably the most famous of these novels, but there are plenty more. “Android Karenina,” a retelling of “Anna Karenina” by Ben H. Winters, is set in a dystopian world of robot revolutionaries, alien cults, and intergalactic battles. And competing with “Android Karenina” for the dubious honor of having the most ridiculous title is Sherri Browning Erwin’s “Jane Slayre,” which adapts its source material by making Jane a demon slayer, and Bertha Mason a literal werewolf. As campy and absurd as these novels are, they represent an interesting shift in ideas about what women can and cannot do. In the 18th and 19th centuries, women were limited by strict and extensive social expectations. Authors like Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters may have subtly critiqued these expectations, but the 21st-century versions of their characters blatantly ignore them, slaying vampires and zombies in a decidedly unladylike fashion. (Tara Joy)
GQ has a metaphor of 'What Surveillance Looks Like Under the Trump Administration'.
So, the argument goes, the push for more instead of better information creates white noise that makes it harder to pick out useful intelligence. Imagine needing to find a specific quote in Jane Eyre and your methodology is to read every novel in the library's Victorian literature aisle front-to-back. (Luke Darby)
Connotation Press reviews Rita Maria Martinez's The Jane and Bertha in Me.

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