My grandmother introduced me to Jane Austen when I was a little girl. She told me that I’d love Pride and Prejudice, and of course, she was absolutely correct. I’ve read all of Austen’s novels – some many times – but there’s something about this particular story that especially draws me in. And after living and breathing with the Bennet family and their friends throughout the writing and rehearsal process, I’ve come to realize that the thing I love most about Pride and Prejudice is its depiction of love itself.
Love in its many forms is on proud display in this production and every character is fueled by it in one way or another. There’s the sweet, romantic love between Jane and Bingley and the intellectually charged chemistry between Lizzy and Darcy, but there’s also love between friends, love between parents and their children, a love of position and status, and a love and zest for life that’s just as important to the emotional reality of the story. And of course, there’s also the very special love shared between sisters (that I think only sisters can truly understand).
I didn’t realize what an undertaking this project would be when I told the board members that I wanted to direct Pride and Prejudice. Adapting the story was not part of my original production plan… but every script that I read cut one of my favorite characters and I couldn’t bring myself to use any of them. In my version, the sometimes endearing, sometimes mortifying cacophony of the Bennet home is highlighted, and there’s a strong focus on the relationships the sisters have with one other (many scripts cut Mary and Kitty). Roguish Mr. Wickham plays a prominent role (he’s inconsequential in other versions), and Charlotte Lucas is a pragmatic voice of reason (not simply a dowdy old-maid). I’ve also updated the story and set it against a backdrop of my favorite love songs from the 1940s because nothing says “romance” to me more than Glenn Miller, Ella Fitzgerald, and Nat King Cole.
This production has truly been a labor of love. I’ve seen 3:00 am more times in the past few months than I care to remember, but I’ve never felt so artistically fueled, focused, and alive. My heartfelt thanks goes to the cast members for your creativity, willingness to spend late nights at rehearsal, and dedication to this show. Your work has made me (as Lizzy might say) “the happiest girl in the world,” and I have loved sharing this experience with each of you. I love all of you – and every moment we’ve spent bringing Pride and Prejudice to life.