Tuesday, July 11, 2017

More on the future plans of the Brontë Parsonage Museum today on Keighley News.
Communications officer Rebecca Yorke gave examples of innovative project ideas that persuaded the Arts Council to adopt the Brontë Society as one of its National Portfolio Organisations.
The society’s planned programme will be tied closely to the ongoing celebrations for the 200th anniversaries of the births of Charlotte, Emily, Anne and Branwell Brontë.
The focus of the Arts Council funding is to enable the society, one of the world’s oldest literary societies, to expand its work amongst young people, new audiences and online.
Rebecca said the programme, which will run from 2018 to 2022, will enable the society and museum to find new audiences, especially through the use of digital.
She said: “We intend to redevelop our website to make it less of an ‘electronic brochure’ and include new ways for people who can’t visit the museum, due to distance, disability or other barriers, to access the collection.
“This could include 360-degree viewing of objects, room mapping and an augmented reality mobile app. We are already working with the School of New Media at Bradford University to explore the possibilities.
“We also want to develop our Vimeo and YouTube channels and share more events via Facebook Live and other streaming methods.
“We recently live-streamed some conservation work that was carried out on one of Emily Brontë’s manuscripts and there was clearly an appetite for more content like this.”
Rebecca added: “The museum is currently working with the National Literacy Trust and Historic England on a number of initiatives to ensure the fascinating story of the Brontes and their works reaches those who may have previously had little connection with the Museum.
“The museum already has strong links with Haworth Primary School and will continue to work closely with schools in Oakworth and Lees who together make up the Brontë Academy Trust.
“We have recently qualified as an Arts Award advisor and are also planning a Saturday club for local children.” (David Knights)
The Reviews Hub gives 4 1/2 stars out of 5 to Sally Cookson's Jane Eyre as seen at Milton Keynes Theatre.
Nadia Clifford brings us the eponymous heroine. The character has been played in films by acclaimed actors Elizabeth Taylor and Charlotte Gainsbourg so a hard task to undertake but Clifford, who is on stage for the duration (3 hours), is the essence of Jane Eyre in all her plainness, whether of speech, look or ideas. She is utterly believable as the unloved, unwanted and somewhat quirky youngster who has had to develop a protective shell to get on in the world. She truly brings us the spirited young woman whose passion and empathy are boundless. Her chemistry with Mr Rochester, performed here by Tim Delap, is totally convincing as is the latter’s portrayal of the gruff, lost and wayward man who nonetheless has great soul. Delap does Rochester to a tee without overdoing the character, as has often been the case in TV versions. He looks and behaves like an ordinary human being with all his faults, anger and vulnerability. His is a real stage presence and he uses his physicality well.
Hannah Bristow, in the roles of Helen, Adele, Diane Rivers, Abbot and Grace Poole, shows just how versatile she can be in acting and in accent. We are aware it is the same actor from her physical appearance but she still manages to convey the various characters.
Lynda Rooke, as both the wicked Mrs Reed and the lovable Mrs Fairfax, does a superb job and her portrayals are aptly understated. She, too, is able to convince us that these are different people. Paul Mundell brings us Mr Bocklehurst, Mason and Pilot. No spoilers here but his Pilot is outstanding and oft funny. His performance is reminiscent of some in the wonderful War Horse, which also began life at the National.
Lighting, by Aideen Malone, acts almost as another character – he provides some of the best use of lighting seen at Milton Keynes Theatre in recent years. It works wonderfully on the white drops and in sync with the action, the mood and the music. The effects created are beautiful and very powerful. Set design by Michael Vale is very, very simple but so effective, more especially in the way it is used by the director to convey motion and change. This is aided by the movement (directed by Dan Canham) which almost appears as choreography in contemporary dance. A clever use of the space.
Costumes have been designed by Katie Sykes and a quiet touch is the use of costume to indicate a change in age for Jane.
The musicians act as well as sing and play instruments, and are on stage at the back for the entire play. They are clearly visible and definitely part of the whole. Benji Bower’s music is more like a film score and, in so being, creates a haunting and very emotional feel to the whole story. (Maggie Constable)
Beep reviews the production too.
Nadia Clifford put in a stunning performance as the eponymous heroine, alongside a cast of nine who multi-role as the other characters in Jane’s life. Most notable was Melanie Marshall, who plays a mysterious figure mostly separate from the rest of the cast, visibly represented by her striking red dress much apart from the dull dresses and suits worn by most of the cast. Marshall stood out as the unmistakable voice of the performance, literally, almost narrating the action with what I can genuinely say is the most remarkable voice I have ever had the privilege of hearing in a live performance. It was the musical element of the production, and really those shining, beautiful moments in which we heard Marshall singing, which gave the story the light and excitement necessary to pull off a really engaging play, something which may have been missing as we moved through Jane’s life in what almost felt like real time.
The acting on the part of Clifford and Tim Delap, who played the harsh and impetuous Mr Rochester, was on the whole very strong. However, it was very true to the book, and the book was of course very long. There were times when it felt as though you simply wanted the story to move forward, when you wanted more of the physical elements (when they appeared, these were particularly strong), but it seemed to plunder on tirelessly through Jane’s life, hovering just too long over each period. This was in no place more obvious than in her schooling period, the only point in the play where this detail became almost too tedious. It also felt as though they missed an opportunity to be more violent here, more powerful. Lowood institution was based on the school in which two of Brontë’s sisters died as a result of poor treatment and the poor conditions in their school, a fact of brutality which did not particularly shine through in the play.
It was nonetheless a strong piece of theatre, and did the original story great credit. It felt very much like a piece of what you might call traditional theatre, straying much further from the musical and physical performances we may have grown accustomed to as theatre has grown more visceral and interpretive. This was perhaps to make way for the plot and feeling which comes with the story, but which may actually have been greatly appreciated to bring the highs and lows of the story more acutely to life. The crown jewel of the performance was undoubtedly Marshall, especially her performances of ‘Mad About the Boy’ by Dinah Washington and ‘Crazy’ by Gnarls Barkley. Despite the occasional pitfall, it achieved its apparent purpose. It was a memorable and recognisable re-imagining of a much loved and much told story, which lent itself perhaps surprisingly well to the stage despite its length and depth. (Lois)
While LeftLion reviews the Jane Eyre performances at Nottingham Outdoor Theatre.
Ahead of its time in terms of bringing to life the emotions of Victorian women (it has been seen as one of the first "feminist" novels), Director Bryony Tebbutt brings Bronte's writing about these complex feelings to life.
The whole play is held together by just six performers, with several playing multiple roles, thanks to some fast costume changes and sheer talent. Standout performers come from Amy Llewellyn in the lead role as Jane and also Ricky Alexander Shaw as the passionate Mr Rochester. Special mention too to Lucy Forrester, who plays a staggering five roles, slipping effortlessly from excitable young French girl Adele to stuck up love interest, Blanche Ingram.
Sunday evening will stay with the audience for a long time, thanks not only to the marvelous writing of Charlotte Bronte, but the excellent production from Richard Main, superb acting from the cast, a beautiful Nottingham setting and the perfect summer evening weather. (Tanya Raybould)
Broadway World reviews the production of The Moors on stage at Hyde Park Theatre in New York City.
The cast here is terrific. Catherine Grady is wonderfully stern and terrifying as Agatha. Katie Kohler is a wonderfully lost Emilie, the governess without a child to govern. Crystal Bird Caviel is a delight as Marjory, the maid whose name changes depending on the room she is in or the task she is engaged in. However, the standout performance goes to Jess Hughes as the rather unstable sister Huldey. Hughes makes the most of the material she is given ending in a riotously funny unhinged concert moment. Hard to describe, has to be seen. Rounding out the cast are solid performances from David Yakubik and Lindsay Hearn Brustein as the moor-hen.
Silverman's script invokes the mystery of the world of the Brontës, but the play keeps folding in on itself. It starts with an air of the mystical and then runs the spear of a joke through it. Whenever it seems to be about to become silly or heartwarming, the blanket of cruelty gets tossed over the proceedings. And then there is the magical realism of talking animals who talk about flying away, which mirrors the inner desires of the main characters.
Director Ken Webster has perfectly enhanced Silverman's approach with juxtaposition and has drawn great performances out of his cast. Mark Pickell's set design provides just the essence of stuffy Victorian sitting room, but is blank enough of a slate that the genre can be undercut with the modern and the bizarre. Nothing anachronistically "modern" comes as a surprise in this stark space. Cheryl Painter's costumes and Donn Day's lighting perfectly compliment the production.
In all, The Moors is not your average evening of Gothic theatre; however, it is wonderfully twisted and a great evening of hearty belly laughs that make it a good way to forget the week's troubles. (Frank Benge)
Inspired by a recent article by John Pfordresher, The Paris Review discusses Charlotte Brontë's career as a governess.
Most writers need day jobs. I recommend the Charlotte Brontë approach: become a governess. It’s your destiny. Yes, it will leave you feeling lonely and downtrodden, and it will nurse a sense of righteous indignation in your soul. But it’ll furnish all the “material” you need for your sensational debut, and isn’t that what really matters? John Pfordresher, who has a new book out about the writing of Jane Eyre, notes that Brontë’s various stints as a governess brought her nothing but heartache, even as they informed her work: “Charlotte’s first ‘situation’ as a temporary governess began in May 1839, at an estate named Stonegappe, a large house of three stories set on a hillside surrounded by woods, enjoying a vista in the distance of the valley of the River Aire. Charlotte was to care for a young girl and her brother—the stone-throwing son of the Sidgwick family we have seen as a model for John Reed. For the socially awkward and impoverished Brontë, at age twenty-three, the inferior position of governess in a wealthy family was an almost intolerable position, far worse than teaching at Roe Head. She was ignored by adult family members, charged with insolent and rebellious children, and denied respect by all, though she considered herself not only more than their equal in terms of intelligence and ability but also a potential writer of genius … Winifred Gérin, in her beautifully written biography of Brontë, pictures Charlotte in the Sidgwick’s handsome country home during a ‘long summer evening when she sat alone, her lap filled with Mrs. Sidgwick’s “oceans of needlework” … no one from the noisy self-absorbed house-party below to share her solitude.’ ” (Dan Piepenbring)
According to Bustle-and we concur-if you love Jane Eyre, you need to read The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde.
Maybe it's because I was named after author Charlotte Brontë, or because I, too, have a thing for stand-offish, unattractive men, but I've always loved Jane Eyre. It's one of those books that has grown with me. When my mom first read it to me as a kid, it was a good old fashioned story about a plucky orphan and a haunted house. When I read it myself, much later, it was the story of a young woman discovering her own independence, with some problematic romance and a whole lot of colonial baggage thrown in. If you love Jane Eyre, you know that it always has more to offer. Each re-read is a revelation. But, for the true Eyre addict, there is at least one other book that you simply have to read, to truly appreciate every dimension that Jane has to offer.
Firstly, though, some thoughts on why Jane has such staying power. Or, at least, why I've always been drawn to her. From that very first page, where young Jane is being punished for being solemn, and not cheerful as a child is supposed to be, I was hooked. I felt for Jane. I was always being told that I looked "sad" as a kid, which is essentially the little girl version of being told you have resting bitch face. Or even the innocent precursor to men on the street imploring you to smile.
But all through the book, Jane refuses to smile. That isn't to say that she's never happy (although you wouldn't be super chipper, either, if you were an orphan forced to go to an evil school where everyone died of fever). Jane just refuses to be happy on anyone else's terms. She won't be a charming, cheerful child if she doesn't feel like one. She won't follow St. John Rivers off on his nonsense missionary work. And she sure as hell isn't going to marry Rochester after finding out about his secret attic wife...at least, not until Rochester gets his life together and Jane figures out how to be happy on her own.
As Jane puts it, “I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.”
And that's why the one book I'm recommending for all Jane Eyre lovers is The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde. (Charlotte Ahlin) (Read more)
This columnist from Los Angeles Review of Books tells about 'binge-reading' the works of an author.
I enjoy binge-watching Netflix as much as the next person, but what I really love is binge-reading. There is a special pleasure in encountering a book by someone you have never read before, and then devouring everything by that writer you can get your hands on. From Charlotte Brontë to Graham Greene to M. F. K. Fisher, I have spent countless uninterrupted hours basking in the newly discovered landscape of a single author. (Kim Fay)
Slant Magazine review the film A Quiet Passion.
The austere texture of Emily’s existence is admittedly far from that of a protagonist like The Long Day Closes’s Bud, a boy wrapped up in the joys of cinema and song, but the only forms of entertainment available to the Dickinsons in rural Massachusetts before and after the Civil War were newspapers, Charlotte Brontë novels if they were lucky enough to get ahold of them, and one another’s company. (Jake Cole)
And British Film Institute describes Sofia Coppola's film The Beguiled as having
ghost traces of gothic stories like Wuthering Heights and even the convalescent-in-peril nightmare of Misery (1990). (Samuel Wigley)
And Signature Reads has an article on the film Lady Macbeth.
After a windswept walk across a moor (Wuthering Heights references run amok), she stumbles upon farmhands who have stripped her maid Anna (Naomi Ackie) and strung up the frightened woman like a pig. Noting that ringleader Sebastian (Cosmo Jarvis), a horse wrangler (let no metaphor be unturned), is not just feral but fine, she beds him shortly after giving him a piece of her mind. (Lisa Rosman)
El Tiempo (Colombia) mentions Siri Hustvedt's early access to the works of the Brontës.

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