Adapted by Joseph Hanreddy and J.R. Sullivan
From the novel by Janet Austen
Directed by Lori Adams
March 26 – April 4, 2015
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."
Mr. Darcy is just such a man, but can the high-spirited Elizabeth Bennet overcome her growing resentment toward him in order to discover her true feelings? This adaptation of Jane Austen's 1813 novel captures the wit, the willfulness and the sometimes-desperate circumstances that underlie one of literature's great romances.
Often when we read the novels of Jane Austen, and see the plays based upon her works, we find ourselves harkening backto this time. We like to think of it as a simpler time- when things were clearer and people were better. However in doing the dramaturgical work for this production of Pride and Prejudice, I have found that we drastically underestimate howstrict rules of manner and behavior were then.
My main resource was a book by Florence Hartley, called The Ladies Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness, and through reading its entirety I found the specificity that was expected of people in this society is exhausting. The care that must be taken when one is merely hosting a friend for a visit was enough to make me feel that, had I been living then, I would never have had anyone over at all. The sheer amount of different and incredibly specific dress that was expected for certain times of day, activities, ages and genders were mind-boggling. Also we like to think that life was relaxing and easier then. It’s true that people in this time didn’t work if they were of a certain class and/ or income. However this is problematic, because though we may not necessarily like working or going to school, we have something to do with our days and, hopefully at some point, we find a career that we enjoy or education that we are passionate about. No such options flatter the people of Austen’s time. Their days were filled with changing their apparel for specific times of the day
and trying to fill their time with activities like reading, dancing, singing and sewing. People were not encouraged to be active outside, so the option of going outside for a walk or outside adventuring was also frowned upon.
What makes Pride and Prejudice interesting though, is how little Austen’s characters seem to care about what is expected of them. Throughout my research I would find myself openly laughing at how shamefully the Bennets and their friends act, according to what was expected of them by polite society. Their complete ignorance of expectations make the characters dynamic and interesting to watch even today. I encourage audiences to note how the Bennet family, and the people they interact with, throw aside society’s rules and live their lives in the way they choose.
Credit: Eliza Palumbo
Dramaturg for ISU’s Pride and Prejudice
Born on December 16th, 1775, Jane Austen was the seventh child and the second daughter to Reverend George Austen and Cassandra Austen. She was very close with her sister, whose name was also Cassandra. Jane and her sister were educated with their brothers by George Austen until they were 8 years old, when they began to attend boarding school. Jane and Cassandra were avid readers, and their father supported Jane’s inclinations to write. In 1787 Jane began to keep the things she wrote, and truly generate work. In 1789, she wrote Love and Friendship, her first complete and kept story. Over the next four years, she wrote several plays and novels. Pride and Prejudice was completed in 1799. It was not published until 1813, as it had to go through many publishers before one would be bold enough to publish something by a woman. This novel was such a success that her brother, Henry, had many of her other novels and stories published quickly after. Mansfield Park was published directly after Pride and Prejudice. Jane’s health began to fail in 1816; she died on July 18th, 1817. She is buried at the Winchester Cathedral. Henry and Cassandra published her works after she died. She had lived at home for her entire life with her sister Cassandra.
Joseph Hanreddy was the artistic director of the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre from 1993-2010, and adapted classical novels for the stage during his time as artistic director. He continues to adapt and direct; his The Misanthrope by Moliere was nominated for a Lucille Lortel Award for Best Revival. The adaptation of Pride and Prejudice that ISU is producing this season has been performed across the country; including the Oregon and Utah Shakespeare festivals.
J.R. Sullivan has founded and served as the artistic director for several theatres, including the Beloit College Festival and the New American Theatre. He has been the artistic director for Utah Shakespeare Festival, and for the Pearl Theater Company. He has directed at all the theatres he has founded and been artistic director for. Sullivan assisted Hanreddy in adapting the classic novel Pride and Prejudice into the stage play we have the privilege to produce at ISU.
Lori Adams joined the Illinois State acting faculty in 1997. She teaches acting and also directs. Her direction of To Kill a Mockingbird, The Diary of Anne Frank, and The Grapes of Wrath opened four seasons of ISU theatre while serving the duel purpose of linking the School of Theatre and Dance to the University’s Foundations of Inquiry general education curriculum. She is currently directing the upcoming production of Pride and Prejudice. Other ISU productions include Tommy, Evita, A View From the Bridge, Crimes of the Heart, Dancing at Lughnasa, and Picnic. Also as a director, Adams’ production of Falling opened Off–Broadway in the fall of 2012. Uniformly acclaimed by New York critics, “Lori Adams, the director, has wrenched every ounce of juice from its reservoir of emotions, like water from a dish towel.” (Rex Reed; The Observer); “….the play packs a powerful punch. Superbly staged by Lori Adams and wonderfully acted….”Falling” soars.” (Frank Scheck; New York Post) the show garnered three Drama Desk nominations. Falling by Deanna Jent (also directed by Adams) was originally produced at the Mustard Seed Theatre in St. Louis and was named the 2011 Kevin Kline Award winner of Outstanding New Play. Other directing credits for Mustard Seed include: Human Terrain, and Fires in the Mirror.
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