Category Archives: Sarah Asarnow

Backstage Book Club

Well, it’s here: the final weekend of Pride and Prejudice. If you’ve seen the play, or even seen it many times, you’ve laughed and cried along with all of us as we’ve brought Jane Austen’s story to life. Those who have been waiting for closing weekend are in for a real treat! We have a very full cast as we’re welcoming Nick back for our final two shows. That means you should get ready to fight for front row seats because no one wants to miss being serenaded by our lovely crooners.

Speaking of a full cast, it’s a wonder we can all fit backstage! Here’s an exclusive peek at the backstage world of Pride and Prejudice:

First, we concentrate on what’s important for the show. We set props, get ready for our scene changes, check our posted schedule, and double-check with our scene-change partners. We listen for prompts and cue from Steven in the the sound and light booth via intercom. There are leisurely costume changes, extremely quick costume changes, and make-up and hair re-touching (the boys keep their hair slicked down with pomade, and claim to be Dapper Dan men). If we have a moment to spare we help zip each other into or out of dresses or make sure suit collars are nice and straight – everyone needs help with their costumes at some point!

Barry, Scott, Terry, and Nick rehearse one of many scene changes.

If we’re not immediately needed on- or off-stage, we take a moment in the theater’s tiny kitchen to sit down, listen (and laugh) at the sound feed, read, study, snack, chat or just breathe. When we’re all packed into that tiny space we sometimes start to get a bit silly, leading to such backstage events as:

San Leandro Glee Club: There’s lots of music in our show, and we all like to sing along. So it’s no surprise that when everyone kept getting Gotye’s “Somebody that I Used to Know” stuck in their heads, we gave in and started singing. Barry (Mr. Bingley) even suggested a mash-up: “I Wanna Dance with Somebody that I Used to Know!” Rachel and Taylor (Kitty and Lydia) have even been coming up with a “Kittya” rap!

Amateur Theatrics: We’ve done/seen the show so many times now that we all know each other’s scenes very well, especially the most memorable ones (Lady Catherine’s scenes are big hits with us). Sometimes we even act out over-the-top versions of our favorite lines, such as everything Lady Catherine says and, for some reason, every time Charlotte mentions lemonade. (Apparently there’s now a entire dance number around my lemonade line. Our glee club is going to have to have it’s own performance.)

Danielle Gray (Caroline Bingley), Sarah Asarnow (Charlottoe Lucas), and Julio Oyola (Mr. Collins).

Backstage Book Club: After Danielle (Caroline Bingley), Julio (Mr. Collins) and I (Charlotte) realized we’d be offstage for much of Act II, the Backstage Bookclub was born! Our book of choice was “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins (perhaps a distant descendant?). Now that we’re done with the first book (and eagerly waiting to start the second) we plan to spend our last two meetings in discussion, just like any good book club!

This cast loves each other! Terry and Alex during one of our many after rehearsal excursions to The Englander.

Finally, we spend as much time as we can enjoying each other’s company. We’ve all become very close in the past few months working on our show, and it’s important to make the most *sniffle* of the last of our time together, backstage, putting on a play that makes us all unbelievably proud. I am so grateful to have been a part of this production, to have spent this time with such an incredible group of people. I know our last two shows are going to be the best we’ve ever done, and I am so excited to help make that happen. As long as I can get through that lemonade line, now that I know what’s going on backstage.

— Sarah Asarnow (Charlotte Lucas)

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First Impressions in the Modern Market

Pride and Prejudice,  “a novel in three volumes by the author of Sense and Sensibility” (itself styled “By A Lady”) was first published in 1813. This past December that Lady turned 236 years old and she remains as popular as ever. Countless editions of this, her best-known book have been printed, plays have been adapted, and movies have been produced.

Jane’s come a long way since 1813, and so has the business of Austen. After all, here we are in 2012, marketing our own, brand new production via blog, tumblr, and facebook. I even own a Jane Austen action figure. So, how do publishers go about selling classic Austen books to the next generation of readers?  The answer, fittingly, is in first impressions.

One of my hobbies is collecting book covers (nerd alert). I am endlessly fascinated by how different artists envision new works and re-imagine classics, all with the aim to catch the eye of the reader. Ruben Toledo’s Pride and Prejudice is a personal favorite, and I’m less fond of ones where all I can see is a “Now a major motion picture” sticker. A while back I was browsing through the young adult section of the bookstore when I came across this:

Coupled with similarly styled copies of Wuthering Heights and Romeo and Juliet, I found Pride and Prejudice done up to look like Twilight. At first I was shocked. Then vaguely insulted. Then I ranted at my friend for twenty minutes about how Bella and Edward should never be compared to Lizzy and Darcy (or to the loves stories in Romeo and Juliet or Wuthering Heights) since they would probably spend their time making fun of Romeo and Juliet and running away screaming from Cathy and Heathcliff. Click here for a visual representation of what I mean.  But now, all I can think is that it’s brilliant.

Twilight contains many a reference to Austen’s works, while the second and third books in the series actually loosely base their plots on Romeo and Juliet and Wuthering Heights. Bella and Edward even discuss the similarity of their lives to those of the characters in the classic books they’re reading. (Makes the old English class assignment about how this book relates to one’s life a bit more pertinent if your life actually is a tragic romance). Wuthering Heights even has a sticker listing it as “Bella and Edward’s favorite book.” I’ll bet that if my younger cousin saw that she wouldn’t stop reading until the vampires showed up.

And since our play updates Pride and Prejudice to a more modern era, I thought I’d share a recent find: a copy of Pride and Prejudice from 1940.

— Sarah Asarnow (Charlotte Lucas)

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