Saturday, June 23, 2018

The Stratford's Festival production of Jordi Mand's Brontë. The World Without gets some (bad) reviews:
Unfortunately, what’s actually made it to the Stratford stage is a dull non-drama that smells of a commissioning process gone completely awry.
Brontë: The World Without does indeed show us a world without – without conflict, without characterization, without substance or style.
Without a clear reason for existing on stage, beyond the brand appeal of the Brontës.
Playwright Jordi Mand gives us scenes as flat as roadkill from the lives of Charlotte, Emily and Anne, all set in the parlour of their father’s parsonage. (...)
The one thing everyone who walks into Brontë: The World Without should know is that Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë were writers. It seems perverse to try to make the entire first half of a play ride on suspense over whether or not they will even try.
Overheard at intermission: “I hope somebody stabs someone with a quill in the second half.”
No such luck.  (J. Kelly Nestruck in The Globe and Mail)
There are several episodes of them physically writing (not the most compelling of stage actions) and we witness them deciding to publish their work and — in the production’s most well-realized moments, captured in Kimberly Purtell’s lighting — placing their books on a shelf with love and pride. But what are they writing about, why are they writing it, and how does this connect to their limited life possibilities?
Perhaps the thinking of Mand, Porteus, and dramaturge Bob White was that the substance of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights is too well-known to merit bringing it into the frame. But what ends up filling that space are overextended passages about tea being too hot or cold, about who’s going to open the envelope that’s arrived in the post, and — most depressingly — about who loved who better and who’s jealous of whom. Sure, these women were human too, and vulnerable and perhaps needy — but because we don’t have access to their creative voices, what we’re left with is the stuff of ordinary life, which is not particularly dramatic. (Karen Fricker in The Toronto Star)
The History Wardrobe's Gothic for Girls performance and the rest of activities at the recent Brontë Society Summer Festival are discussed in The Telegraph & Argus:
Gothic for Girls took its audience back to the 18th century to explore the origins of gothic novels.
It highlighted the gothic elements of the works of Emily and Charlotte Brontë, before moving forward through the centuries to examine how the gothic tradition has influenced literature, fashion and culture right up to the present day.
The presentation featured a fabulous array of original costumes and accessories, as well as readings from well-loved writers.
The Brontë Mastermind Challenge was billed as a fun-filled evening of fact and fiction with participants competing to be named the ultimate Brontë obsessive.
Lucy Mangan checked whether the quizzers knew their Haretons from their Huntingdons, their Weightmans from their Smith Williams.
Lucy Mangan is a columnist for Stylist magazine, a features writer and the author of five books.
She recently co-presented a BBC documentary about the Brontë sisters.
Carol Dyhouse delivered the annual lecture, taking as a starting point an 1847 review in The Athenaeum that found Wuthering Heights ‘a disagreeable story’ and complained of ‘the eccentricities of woman’s fantasy’. (David Knights)
Upcoming events at the Parsonage in Keighley News:
If you'eve ever wondered why many of the signs around Haworth feature Japanese characters, and why Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights is so popular in Japan, then July 1 is a good time to visit the museum!
The day starts with a calligraphy workshop, led by Japanese calligrapher Misuzu Kosaka. Places are limited, and tickets cost £20/£17.50. Call 01535 640192 or visit our website.
Following the workshop, we have two free events in Haworth Old School Room: a talk by Damian Flanagan, a Japanese culture specialist, who will explore why Wuthering Heights is so popular with Japanese readers; and the opportunity to witness a Japanese tea ceremony, perhaps the most elegant of Japanese traditions.
July 1 is a busy day for us, as we’ve also teamed up with Bradford Literature Festival, and on Sunday there will be a Brontë-inspired manga workshop in Bradford city-centre aimed at teens – so we really are going all-out Japanese that weekend!
The workshop in Bradford is 11am-1pm and tickets cost just £7/£3 and are available from
We have a free Tuesday talk on July 3, and this month, we look at the few experiences Emily had in the world outside the Parsonage, and explore what home meant to Emily.
We then have another joint event with Bradford Literature Festival on July 8 as part of its Brontë Stones project. The Anne Stone will be unveiled on Sunday, July 8, and to celebrate we’re delighted to welcome poet Jackie Kay and broadcaster (and avid Anne-fan!) Samira Ahmed to Haworth.
The event will begin at 4pm in Parson’s Field behind the Parsonage, and then move into Haworth Old School Room. Tickets are available from Bradford Literature Festival, and are priced £8/£5.
Finally, if you’re aged between 16 and 25 , and want to gain some insight into what it is like to make a living in the creative arts industry, then apply for a place on our two- day workshop, which takes place on August 6 to 7.
Starting from a theme of ‘stormy weather’ in the apt setting of the museum on day one, you will have the opportunity to make, create, perform and present new work at Leeds Library on day two.
You will be supported by professional artists Sai Murray, Tobago Crusoe (of Paddington fame!), Melanie Abrahams and Gabriele Zuccarini who work in literature, spoken word, curation, music, graphic design, film and production. (David Knights)
The Virginia Gazette really likes the Williamsburg Players performances of Jane Eyre. The Musical:
Thank you to the Williamsburg Players for their outstanding production of “Jane Eyre, the Musical.” A large cast of wonderful voices. All ages had big parts and each player carried their role wonderfully. Congratulations to the director, cast and company that produced a splendid show — and thank you! It was enjoyable from beginning to final notes. Thank you, orchestra, you were invisible but perfect.
The Times reviews Helen Dunmore's Girl, Balancing & Other Stories:
Great writers are always great readers, and Dunmore’s literary meditations are illuminating. In Grace Poole Her Testimony we get the story of Jane Eyre retold by the servant who cared for Mr Rochester’s mad wife — someone who is never heard, but whose voice here is convincing. (Kate Saunders)
The Telegraph lists some of the Brussels-Britain mutual influences:
3. Educating Charlotte
It was at the Pensionnat Heger, Rue d’Isabelle, where Charlotte Brontë met her tutor, Constantin Heger. She quickly became besotted with him and Heger was the inspiration for many of Charlotte’s male love interests, from Monsieur Paul Emanuel in Villette to Mr Rochester himself. The school was demolished in 1909, replaced by Brussels’ Palace of Fine Arts, but there is a memorial dedicated to the sisters and the Brussels Brontë Group ( organises talks and guided tours about the Brontë connection to Brussels. (Marianna Hunt)
Well, technically it is the BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts which stands more or less in the Pensionnat Heger's place.

Also in The Telegraph, weekend delights in Bakewell:
So it comes as no surprise that Haddon has often stolen the limelight in period blockbusters, from Elizabeth and The Other Boleyn Girl to Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice. Its terraced gardens are equally ancient and newly planted by Chelsea darling, Arne Maynard. (Gill Charlton)
The New York Times reviews A View of the Empire at Sunset by Caryl Phillips:
There’s another overlap between Rhys and Phillips: Both have used the work of the Brontë sisters, Charlotte and Emily, to explore the themes that are so close to their hearts. In “Wide Sargasso Sea,” Rhys appropriated “Jane Eyre” and imagined an early Caribbean life for Mr. Rochester’s insane wife, Bertha (renamed Antoinette Cosway). Similarly, Phillips seized on the “Wuthering Heights” character of Heathcliff in his novel “The Lost Child,” in which the young man is the illegitimate offspring of Mr. Earnshaw and a former slave. Both novels use the Brontë fictions to explore the role of the outcast in society and the various forms that imperial, patriarchal oppression — both unthinking and intentional — can take. Consequently, there is a real sense of inevitability about “A View of the Empire at Sunset.” In this meshing of Phillips as writer and Rhys as subject all the great themes of Phillips’s fiction cohere in the difficult, dislocated, lonely life of Gwen Williams. (William Boyd)
Publishers Weekly presents My Plain Jane:
Hand, Ashton, and Meadows follow up My Lady Jane (about Lady Jane Gray) with another tongue-in-cheek novel about a famous Jane—this time, Jane Eyre. In this take on the classic, Jane and Charlotte Brontë are good friends from school, and as Jane’s story unfolds, Charlotte records every moment of it—at first writing it as a murder mystery, then a romance. Jane can also see ghosts, and the Society for the Relocation of Wayward Spirits determines that she is a rare Beacon (someone who can control ghosts), offering her a high-paying job. The chapters switch among the handsome young Alexander, a member of the Society; Charlotte, who convinces Alexander to give her a temp job (and who falls for Alexander); and Jane, who spurns her job offer, heads off to Thornfield, and falls for Rochester. The authors’ prose holds all the flavor of a juicy period novel yet with the addition of numerous, witty asides. The narrative is full of wry humor—at one point, Jane thinks to herself about Rochester, “He was everything she’d ever dreamed about. Tall. Dark. Brooding”—and laugh-out-loud commentary. The authors’ affection for their source material is abundantly clear in this clever, romantic farce.
Oldham Evening Chronicle has an interesting alert for next July in Manchester:
Local winners of Lyceum Theatre Oldham's first ever One-Act Playwriting competition will see their plays performed on stage during Greater Manchester's biggest Fringe Festival next month.  (...)
The second prize goes to locally born and bred Bob Pegg. Researching for another project, he discovered that Charlotte Bronte and Karl Marx were both in Manchester on the same day in 1846.
His play – The Salutation - imagines a meeting between these two great minds, using historical facts as well as dramatic licence to explore how their conversation may have gone.
The Guardian reminds us of some of the highlights of Newcastle's Great Exhibition of the North:
One of the highlights of the 80-day event is a family-friendly exhibition featuring more than 200 items on loan from the UK’s leading museums, galleries and private collections. Star exhibits include a spacesuit worn by the Sheffield-born astronaut Helen Sharman; a rare miniature book created by Charlotte Brontë; and the last piano played by John Lennon. The show, at the Great North Museum in Newcastle, includes a special event where children can learn how Postman Pat is animated. (Helen Pidd)
A curious event taking place today in Gorzów (Poland) includes an Emily Brontë poem put into music. Wyborcza Gorzów explains:
Wartością tego spektaklu jest muzyka wykorzystująca wiersz brytyjskiej pisarki romantycznej Emily Brontë „Come, Walk With Me”/"Chodź, chodź ze mną” – skomponowana przez Piotra Ślęczka (kompozytora, absolwenta Akademii Muzycznej w Katowicach).
Etiuda „Wrażenie 1147”/Spotkanie z prawnuczką mieszkańców willi, niedziela, 24 czerwca, godz. 13, ul. Wał Okrężny. Wstęp wolny. Reżyseria: Magdalena Janowicz i Julia Adamczyk, Obsada: Kasia Kałuska, Marian Lewandowski, Muzyka: Piotr Ślęczek, Recytacja: Ela Kuczyńska. (Translation)
Kristeligt Dagblad (Denmark) recommends summer readings:
Villette by Charlotte Brontë
Historien handler om den unge Lucy Snowe, der bliver lærerinde på en kostskole i Frankrig, og som repræsenterer en blanding af korrekte engelske manerer og et sprudlende og længselsfuldt indre liv. Romanen er vidunderligt skrevet i et dunkelt mystisk sprog og fylder sin læser med både håb, drømme og vemodig realisme. (Sørine Gotfredsen) (Translation)
La Voce di New York (in Italian) reviews the film A Quiet Passion:
La passione più forte resta però naturalmente quella per la poesia. E’ la poesia a dare un senso alla vita di Emily Dickinson, anche se non successo e riconoscimento sociale. La poetessa volontariamente reclusa amava le Brontë, e detestava Longfellow. (Marco Pontoni) (Translation)
Siempre! (México) reviews the film The Shape of Water:
Pero Elisa es una Jane Eyre que se arroga su derecho a construirse su lugar en el mundo. (Translation)
Viaţa Liberă (Romania) reviews the novel Morgen by Marius Chiru:
Străfulgerări de frumuseţe literară într-o atmosferă întunecată, gotică, personaje bizare ori fermecătoare, deosebit de bineîntr realizate fiind şi cele feminine (Soţia, Margarethe, Hannelore, nebuna ucigaşă), deşi nu se insistă, o dragoste la fel de stranie între Rogerius şi Margarethe, dincolo de moarte, -un fel, dar cel care, hamletian, rămâne în memoria cititorului, este Rogerius, un îndrăgostit blestemat din specia unui Heathcliff, câteodată un pic instabil psihic, dar după ceea ce i se întâmplă, este normal… de anormal[.] (Translation)
L'Humanité (France) interviews Augustin Trapenard:
Tout de même très fier d’avoir à la fois étudié et enseigné dans cette école, Augustin Trapenard déballe : « Un jour, j’aimerais bien terminer ma thèse », dont le sujet n’est autre que son livre de chevet : les Hauts de Hurlevent, écrit par Emily Brontë, romancière britannique. « C’est une histoire d’amour furieuse où la littérature est envisagée comme une forme de réinvention du monde par le truchement des mots », dit le journaliste, avec les yeux qui brillent. (Andy Miller and Kadiatou Sakho) (Translation
Libreriamo (Italy) lists books to reread including Wuthering HeightsEvie's Blog reviews Jane Eyre.


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