Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Wednesday, January 01, 2020 12:30 am by M. in    No comments
2019 was the year in which we humans were able to pierce through the cosmos and see for the first time the shadow of a black hole in the centre of a nearby galaxy (M87*). The same species that was able to achieve such a gargantuan task is not able to achieve consensus in if we're on the verge of a climate crisis and what we can do to secure the future of the Earth, the pale blue dot as Carl Sagan put it in his memorable speech. The same species that was able to walk on the Moon fifty years ago is entering slowly but unstoppably in a new Dark Age where populism reigns, where democracy degenerates into post-democracy: driven by emotions, fed by the new post-truth rulers (you know who... or maybe you don't) through social media (once thought to be the embodiment of freedom of speech and now the banner of this growing dystopia which embraces authoritarianism in which we live). Rebellion happens--we have numerous examples of protests this year which are crushed, diluted or simply forgotten (anyone remembers what happened to the Arab Spring?) in a very George Orwell-y way (1984's Brotherhood, anyone?). If we have already crossed the event horizon, the point of no return in a black hole, only time will tell. Yes, the same time that is the real currency of modern society.

In Brontë news, 2020 will be Anne Brontë's year. The Brontë200 celebrations finally reach the youngest of the Brontë sisters. We hope that this celebration will finally restore Anne Brontë to the frontline of British authors. Coinciding with the 250th anniversary of Wordsworth's birth and the 150th anniversary of Charles Dickens's death it is going to be challenging to get the attention of the media but Anne certainly deserves the effort.

The Brontë Society has not yet revealed all the details of Anne's celebrations but we know that the creative partner will be Samira Ahmed as well as some of the names that will visit the Parsonage:  Maggie O’Farrell (June), Ruta Sepetys, Andrew Michael Hurley (April), Jess Moor and Nuala Ellwood. The Brontë Parsonage will host the exhibitions Anne Brontë: 'Amid the brave and strong' and
Go Back with Me by Lindsey Tyson and Sarah Dew, a textile and audio exhibition exploring Anne Brontë and Scarborough. Precisely in Scarborough an art exhibition featuring 200 new original artworks by 200 artists celebrating Anne Brontë's legacy: Anne Brontë p.200 (Woodend Scarborough) and an Anne Brontë 200 weekend with different events and talks (January 17-18). In Bradford, an evening of live music, poetry, and dancing will be held the January 17th at the Delius Arts & Cultural Centre. In Manchester (March 28th), Pamela Nash is organizing an Anne Brontë celebration in music and poetry, with specially written choral settings for children's and adult voices.
Crossing the pond, in New York (January 24th/25th) at the New York Public Library the piece Anne Brontë: A Woman Of Courage which weaves together excerpts from Anne's novels along with sections of her poems, letters and diary entries will be presented. The Lost Voice of Anne Brontë is "a Victorian Melodrama of Murderous Intrigue, Madness and Malice" written by Cate Whittaker that will be premiered in Sydney (January 31st) and later be performed in Haworth as part of the Brontë200 celebrations.

The Brontë Society 2019 conference will be, of course, devoted to Anne Brontë: "I wished to tell the truth": Anne Brontë at 200 (Scarborough, September 4th) with Marianne Thormählen, Kathryn Hughes and Jane Sellars as keynote speakers. Not the only scholar event on Anne: The University of Bonn (Germany) holds a Symposium in January: Anne Brontë at 200: Exploring her Literary Works and (After)Life. And the Victorians Journal journal will issue a special Anne Brontë number edited by Deborah Denenholz Morse and Amber Pouliot next October-November. Not exactly Anne-oriented, but in June the people of Common Ground: Reading, Writing & Walking will be reading Wuthering Heights as a sacred text in Brontë country.

Anne Brontë will also be present in the editorial Brontë releases: Nick Holland will publish Crave the Rose: Anne Brontë at 200,  're-evaluating the legacy of the youngest Brontë sister on the 200th anniversary of her birth'. Saraband publishes Adelle Hay's Anne Brontë Reimagined: A View from the Twenty-first Century (after Franklin's Charlotte Revisitation and O'Callaghan's Emily Reappraising) trying to answer 'who was the real Anne, how was her reputation destroyed, and why has she been so overlooked?'

Our annual dose of retellings of the Brontë opus will be represented this year by a Jane Eyre retelling: Rose Lerner's The Sea May Burn, Lily Tuck, winner of the National Book Award, publishes the novella Heathcliff Redux (February) and other stories where "a married woman reads Wuthering Heights at the same time that she falls under the erotic and destructive spell of her own Heathcliff". Tanya Landman retells Jane Eyre (January) adapted for readers with difficulties. Penguin in its Vintage Minis collection selects texts from Jane Eyre and Villette with Independence (March) as a common subject. A couple of theatres plays will also be published: Jordi Mand's Brontë: The World Without (May) and Andrew Sheridan's Wuthering Heights (February) (more on this one later in the post). The Brontë biographical fiction will also be present. In August, Finola Austin will publish Brontë's Mistress:
This dazzling debut novel for fans of Mrs. Poe and Longbourn explores the scandalous historical love affair between Branwell Brontë and Lydia Robinson, giving voice to the woman who allegedly corrupted her son's innocent tutor and brought down the entire Brontë family.
The greatly anticipated graphic novel Glass Town by Isabelle Greenberg will be published in February:
A graphic-not-quite-biography of the Brontës, and their Juvenilia. Four children; Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne have invented a world so vivid that they can step right into it. But can reality be enough, when fiction is so enticing? And What happens to an imaginary world when its creators grow up. Plots are spiralling, characters are getting wildly out of hand, and a great deal of ink is being spilt.
For even younger readers, We Are the Brontë Sisters (Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum) by Brooke Vitale (June): 'An 8x8 with 2 sticker sheets based on an episode from the PBS KIDS animated television series Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum starring the Brontë sisters'. The scholar niche will also have a couple of publications scheduled by Palgrave for June: Charlotte Brontë, Embodiment and the Material World, edited by Justine Pizzo and Eleanor Houghton and Wide Sargasso Sea at 50, edited by Elaine Savory and Erica L. Johnson which of course deals with the fiftieth anniversary of Jean Rhys's Jane Eyre prequel.

We don't have any exciting news about any of the film or TV projects we have reported in the previous months such as the anticipated Chinese Jane Eyre film. As we reported a few days ago, the independently produced Wuthering Heights, directed by Bryan Ferriter has been premiered in Montana and will participate in local film events along this new year. Sometime this year it is also likely that the recently-unearthed Wuthering Heights 1958 with Richard Burton and Rosemary Harris will be released on DVD by Liberation Hall.

And the Brontës will return to the stages in 2020. New adaptations of Jane Eyre by Elizabeth Williamson will open in Hartford, CT and by Christine Calver in Pequot Lakes, MN, both in February. In Manchester, the Royal Exchange Theatre will present a new production of Wuthering Heights, adapted by Andrew Sheridan:
Experience a very different side to literature’s most electric couple in this gripping reinvention of the classic tale. Bryony Shanahan’s production of Andrew Sheridan’s searing script is a ferocious, wild and utterly exhilarating celebration of passion, of desire – and of the female imagination that created this indelible masterpiece. Visceral and vicious, physical and poetic, tender and true: Emily Brontë never felt quite like this before.
Another new Wuthering Heights (devised by the Inspector Sand Company) will be premiered in Southampton (in May):
Does it take a village to raise a monster?
Channelling Emily Brontë’s piercing wit and fierce emotion, Inspector Sands present this classic story of obsessive love and revenge in a thrilling new version for our times.
Expect violence, passion, peril, social awkwardness, high winds, heavy rain, loud music and mud. 
Blackeyed Theatre will continue its Jane Eyre tour (adapted by Nick Lane) in the Netherlands (January), UK (January-May) and even China (June).

And more... local productions of Polly Teale's Brontë in Bolton (January);  Polly Teale's Jane Eyre in West Wickham (May); of Gordon & Caird's Jane Eyre musical in Vernal, UT (February) and Fullerton, CA (March); of Brontë. A Portrait of Charlotte of the recently deceased William Luce  in Atlanta, GA (February); Jen Silverman's The Moors in Rhode Island (March) and Chicago (April); Hurlevents by Fanny Britt in Montréal, Canada... The American Ballet Theatre will return to the Metropolitan Opera House in New York with Cathy Marston's Jane Eyre ballet (June).

And last but not least, we are quite eager to know the details about the London National Theatre co-production with Wise Children and York Theatre Royal of a new adaptation of Wuthering Heights, adapted and directed by Emma Rice to be open at Lyttelton Theatre this fall.

If we have learnt something during these years of Brontëblogging is that many of the most exciting events or releases of the year are never covered in this early report. Therefore, let's wait and see and look out for all of them, the ones that we have announced and the ones that will surprise us. All of them, we're pretty sure, will bring us a very Brontë year.

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