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Director's Note by Sara Clark
Kate Hamill started writing plays because she wanted to create new female-centric classics for contemporary audiences and she started with Jane Austen because virtually all the stage adaptations she knew of were written by men. So you’d have a story by this proto-feminist author, constantly being filtered through a male gaze. As any adaptation of a classic should have a point of view (otherwise, what's the point, as an attempt to directly dramatize the source material is always going to feel like it falls short), the dialogue in the play is unapologetically 20% Jane Austen and 80% Kate Hamill. What I personally love about this adaptation is that in retelling a very well-known story in her own voice, Hamill highlights what is often missed by Hollywood treatments of Austen novels: how FUNNY Jane Austen was and how keen her satire of the society in which she lived.
Elizabeth Bennet doesn't laugh off her family's quirks because she doesn't care. She cares deeply. But she recognizes the absurdity of the situation and deflects with humor. This is what she ultimately teaches Mr. Darcy how to do. He in turn teaches her that forbidding herself from feeling vulnerable with another person isn't the key to a happy life; that it may be impossible to know if you've met your perfect match, but that facing the world is just easier when you have someone to laugh at it with you. Essentially, Hamill has taken the original novel and made the comedy, the social commentary, and the romance more in line with our modern sensibility.
Hamill also encourages productions to play with gender-fluid doubling, as old words are given new life when they are spoken by a person of the opposite gender, or perhaps by someone who does not fall on one side of the gender binary. To me, this is perfect for Jane Austen, who is writing about a society in which both men and women were greatly confined by the expectations of their gender. Hamill’s adaptation may be quasi-modern but the challenges her characters face are still true to their own period. Lizzy, Jane, Lydia, Mary, and Charlotte have no agency in the world outside of their ability to land a suitable man, and not only their own survival but that of their family depends on it. In 1813, the notion of a woman elevating her own life, liberty and pursuit of happiness above the wishes of her family and the men who desire her was a revolutionary choice. I'd argue it's still revolutionary.
So are you in for an evening of ladies in beautiful dresses stitching on samplers? Yes. Might that sampler actually say “Smash the Patriarchy”? Also yes. So enjoy! And also think a bit. But mostly, enjoy.
-Sara Clark, Director of Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice is presented in the round
This is the very first production in the brand new Otto M. Budig Theater to be presented in the round. This is a form of theatrical staging in which the acting area, which may be raised or at floor level, is completely surrounded by the audience. Be sure to look for the seating area called the "Stage Gallery" to select seats on the 4th side of the stage. This production will be unlike anything you have experienced at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company!
Any questions regarding seating, please call the Box Office at 513-381-2273 x. 1 from 12pm-5pm, 7 days a week.
Here is a drawing of the seating layout for this production: