Yes, Siree Jane!! This past week, I got to live the last of the 8 days of Austen, and add another couple of events!! On Tuesday I spent the day getting my tax information ready for the accountant! Hours and hours of number crunching can only be made palatable by a spoonful of sugar so to speak, and in this case that meant three Jane Austen adaptations!! First of all I watched the BBC Production of Persuasion with Amanda Roote in preparation for seeing a stage adaptation that night, next it was the A&E version of Emma
with Kate Beckinsale, rounding out the trio with the classic 1940 Pride and Prejudice with Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier. Good Stuff!! And I hardly noticed all those numbers tumbling by!!
That night it was off to the BYU adaptation of Persuasion by Melissa Larson. My friend Jennifer works with the Stage Management team at BYU as a facilitator, so it was natural for us each to take our favorite tween to the show for a double date!! Here we see my Granddaughter Kim with Jenn's daughter Bronwyn as we caught one of the actors, Brock Kannan (Mr. Elliot) back stage during intermission.
Here are the lovely girls again, including the lovely Jenn in front of her office!! Triple adorable, if you ask me!! Then it was back to see the rest of the play.
I have to admit I was taken back a bit at the beginning of the play. I confess to being an Austen purist. In my opinion, an adaptor is welcome to take her works apart and put them back together again, however they like, as long as they don't add new material that takes a direction not intended by the author. (OK, I confess to liking the 1940 P and P, though it does take liberties, but that is just because I first saw it and loved it before reading the book!! And it IS a classic in its own right, true?!?)
This is why I got my back up for a minute, but it took about five minutes to realize that though Larson had pulled Austen apart, and done some distillation, emphasising the humor, she really had not 'messed' with its integrity. I love this version, though I found it laugh-out-loud funny and acerbically sarcastic, I believe it was true to Austen's intent. The characters were charming, though it took a bit to get used to the 'flash backs' played by another set of lovers. The fleshing out of their early love story, which predates the narrative in the book, of necessity, had to be built from a fragile web of references from the original story line but it was believable and cut from the same cloth, which I felt actually enriched the story.
I also want to mention the cool stage 'gadget' that added nicely to the flow of the play. Imagine if you will a ring shaped band cut out of the stage. The center of the stage moves independently, so that the ring itself revolves, bringing a new section into view, set up for each change of scene. This invention made for quick scene changes and made the play, which requires fairly frequent changes of 'drawing rooms' for the most part, to flow smoothly.
And here I am with the adaptor herself, Melissa Leilani Larson!
And if seeing this wonderful play once was a great experience, seeing it again, amidst Jane Austen admirers truley enriched the experience. I snuck out of the antique show a couple of hours early on Thursday (thanks to having an agreeable business partner in Bruce) to attend the same play, this time with the Jane Austen Society of North America, (JAsna) the Utah Chapter, which was formally organized just last summer! It was fun to sit next to a 30 something woman who's two children are both named with an Austen influence, MacFayden (the surname of the actor who played Darcy in the most recent movie adaptation) and Elizabeth for every one's favorite Austen Heroine.
This is a picture taken of me after the play with Aspen Anderson, the President of the Utah Chapter (center) and her treasurer, when we met for the first time, this being my inaugural JASNA event. If you are interested in learning more about JASNA, you can contact Aspen at firstname.lastname@example.org
To round out my ten days of Austen, my daughter Becca and daughter-in-law Nell decided to watch the Keira Knightley version of Pride and Prejudice at our 'girl's night in', last night at Nell's house!! Becca is a huge P and P fan, and I PROMISE, it was her suggestion!! I, of course, did not argue the point!! :-) What a lovely Austen focused season for me!!