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Saturday, October 29, 2005

Another limited time offer.

A dear friend of mine has recently bought a CD full of theatrical tidbits that someone had collected over time. In it there are some lovely video clips from the Jane Eyre musical when it was on Broadway. I haven't seen most of these- my computer is still not up to the job, but that's no reason not to share the links! They will be up for less than a week.

Several are promotional trailers from Broadway.com (avid fans will recognise the Proposal clip from James Barbour's website):

"Secret Soul"
"The Pledge"
"The Proposal"
"The Kiss"

These are apparently longer video clips. I haven't viewed them so I cannot comment on where they might have come from:

You examine me Miss Eyre
End of the Gypsy Scene
The Proposal
"Secret Soul" performed in the studio

There are also some audio files and photographs. I haven't listened to these, either, but apparently the lyrics are different from other renditions: Sirens, Secret Soul. I've posted some of the photos throughough this post btw (or I will do when Blogger will allow it...).

I have been silent lately, due to more than one crisis at home, which are now resolved, God willing. Exam week is over, I have survived it with only minor damage and the addition of a new hobby- crochet. All of this has nothing to do with the Brontës and so, I'll move on to something I read this morning which struck me as very odd.

From the Liverpool Daily Press article on Polly Teale's Bronte:

"A fine actor like David Fielder is expected to play the sisters' father, the dull curate who becomes Charlotte's husband, Charlotte's tutor and the fictional Mr Rochester. It's not always easy to know which one he is playing at any moment."

That really must be confusing. I'm thinking especially of the Patrick Bronte and Arthur Nicholls crossover. Just how is that supposed to work? I can't help but think that it would make one of them seem totally nuts. "That soundrel! I don't ever want to see him in this house again!" "Oh please, let me stay-" "No, I say!" Or something more accurate and meaningful but along those same lines. Still, it is a shame I cannot see this. Mr Rochester is easier to work in since he is a composite of imagination and experiences of character like most fictional creations. There could be a little of ..most of them (Mr.Nicholls excepted) in his character. It would probably come across as though there had only ever been one man in Charlotte's life- at least he doesn't also play Messrs. Smith, Williams, Taylor, and Thackeray too.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

More pretty pictures...

I had to return most of the Brontë books I took out, alas. I did renew the ones by Juliet Barker because they're so interesting 'light' reading! I'm going to try once again, to continue my project to share all of the illustrated Brontë lovliness I have hoarded away on my PC. These are some of my favourites, illustrated by John Huehnergarth in 1954. The glorious Kristin sent them to me, along with other things to keep up my obsession- I mean... collection.

I have collected a lot of illustrations but have only come across two like the one on the left, which illustrate Mr Rochester's affairs on the continent. The other is from the 1940s. The edition is one of my favourites. There are many beautiful illustrations which cleverly comment upon the action in the text itself. These are good examples, but there are several ways he goes about this. The expressions of these illustrations are what speak for the accompaning text.

The one on the right is straight-forward, it seems. But if you read more into it, the illustrator has answered the question a few readers might have- would Mr Rochester make a good father? The other is more tricky. He certainly seems rather ridiculous, and flattered I think, by Celine's vivacious clinging. In the context of Mr Rochester's narrative, this image has strong ironic overtones.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Jane Eyre by Telegram.

Yes! You read correctly. Jane Eyre by telegram... I am being buried now, beneath piles of exams. I marked a good many today, and I have an exam to proctor tomorrow as well as one to sit! I will take the time now, while I can catch my breath and save for future reference, some of the more amusing pastimes of a few Brontephiles- namely me, and my friends. Projects like Jane Eyre by Telegram, but other projects suggested include a blogged version of Wuthering Heights (with journal entries by each of the characters), and there's also a huge Jane Eyre comic book that I made, and half of one of Villette.

Jane Eyre by Telegram was first proposed by Aidan, on august 18th 2005 at 2:56 PM. We didn't get very far because we all got so excited! But there was one telegram that arrived far too early:

"Jane stop Jane stop Jane stop Mr Rochester stop."

Others never made it at all:

{This telegram was never sent- having slipped into a crack of the post office floor.}jane eyre stop i love you stop mr rochester stop

Here's a selection of my favourites from all parties:

dear doll stop i am here at school stop i have met a very nice girl who does not despise me stop i am sending you a telegram because i am so cold i can not speak stop i hope we have something good to eat this morning stop love jane

dear God stop kill me know or let me at least run away stop sob sob sob stop yes i will run away and live again in europe stop i know that i'm not crazy even though i am sending a telegram to God stop it's better than carrying out this suicide attempt stop speaking of which i should put these pistols away now before wife gets them stop again stop yours agonisingly edward

"God is currently busy and cannot take your call please hold *sounds of Greensleeves*"Dear St John,We're writing in regard to your latest shipment of beef. It never showed up and we're running low on supplies. We need fresh meat otherwise we will surely go out of business. Please provide some.Yours sincerely,Rhajid Bhaskar,Manager of The Calcutta Grilling Co.

Hahahahaha stop Thornfield is mine all mine stop Hahahahha stop have died suddenly stop Rowland Rochester

mamma stop i am having a frightfully good time here in town stop everybody likes me and they are always getting up gambling parties just for me stop i need more money though stop send me by wire stop your own rapscallion john

dear god stop your favourite son here stop all these children are dying and people are blaming me stop help stop they are actually going to start feeding them stop please strike down the unbelievers stop awaiting your divine wrath stop brocklehurst stop

dear jane stop my husband's great stop however I just won't ever write to you again stop he doesn't let me have contact with any of my close friends stop send help stop i mean i am perfectly happy with married life stop the former miss temple

0948 stop a woman came in and said the code word stop but not the rest of it stop she did not seem to know anything stop however there really was a letter for J.E. stop can not be a coincidence stop advise following the woman who headed towards lowood stop postmistress stop

Agnes Grey stop thank you for your reply stop but we have already secured a governess stop have a nice life stop mrs. fairfax stop

dear mademoiselle jeanette arrete je suis very happy to have a governante arrete i mean governess stop i have stopped jumping on the matresses in the third story stop may i now have some cake stop Adella Varens

what the deuce is to do now stop mr rochester stop

for once i wish someone would care about my welfare in these situations stop mesrour stop

To Theatrical Equipment Proprieters, Millcote sir stop you have sent me the wrong costume stop i wanted a female gypsy outfit stop the skirt must have a wide waistband stop nevermind what it is for stop just send it to me stop mr. rochester

john stop please get the gardner to fix up the lawns stop miss eyre has created ruts in the grass with all of her pacing stop it looks awful stop mrs. fairfax stop

john stop go out and purchase a doll and a dress or whatever for adele stop i could not be bothered to get anything for her when i was abroad and now she is bugging me stop mr rochester stop

Sunday, October 23, 2005

...This is not funny! Not funny at all!


If only it were that simple! (In fact has nothing at all to do with the Brontës). George Elliot appears to be extremely popular in Canadian academia nowadays, but courses on the Brontës are scarce. I've found one so far and it has been cancelled.


Saturday, October 22, 2005

Robin Chapman on Jane Eyre (1973), more than one Bway JE (?), and some confusion...

The New York TimesJuly 18, 1982, Sunday, Late City Final Edition
SECTION: Section 2A; Page 3, Column 1; Arts and Leisure Desk
BYLINE: By Eleanor Blau

A New Jane

'Jane Eyre,'' the Charlotte Bronte novel, arrives on Channel 13 in four parts starting Wednesday evening at 8, offering a new look at a much-filmed heroine. Jane, hired as a governess at that mysterious house, Thornfield Hall, headed by the romantic and tyrannical Mr. Rochester, has inspired at least three pre-talkie films and two with sound: in 1934 (with Virginia Bruce and Colin Clive), and in 1944 (Joan Fontaine and Orson Welles). There was even a Broadway version in 1958 (Jan Brooks and Eric Portman) [Hmmm...] and a 1971 television movie (Susannah York and George C. Scott).

In this BBC version, starring Sorcha Cusack (daughter of the actor Cyril Cusack) and Michael Jayston, Jane will tell her own story - as she does in the first-person novel. According to Robin Chapman, the novelist and playwright who did the adaptation, ''usually when people dramatize 'Jane Eyre' they take away the narrative voice-over of Jane herself and this turns the book on its head.

''I think Charlotte Bronte was an early feminist,'' Mr. Chapman said last week speaking by phone from England. ''She debunks the Byronic glamour associated with Rochester.'' The first view we get of Rochester is a typically romantic, macho one, riding a horse - but he falls, Mr. Chapman noted. And by the time Jane is reunited with him at the end of the novel, ''he is reduced to a human being.'' He has been blinded but some of his sight is being restored. ''It's very much a parable,'' Mr. Chapman said.

And now, for the confusion:

Putting on Eyres

Please help me, I have drained my memory cells.

I would like to know the name of a movie featuring George C. Scott. He was married to an insane woman and kept her locked in the attic.

He was in love with another woman. His wife set the house on fire and, in the rescue attempt, he lost his sight.

His character's name in the movie was Rothchild.

I thought it was "Wuthering Heights," but after seeing it on TV recently, I found out it was not.

My friends cannot recall the name, and some of them wonder if it is a movie.

I told them I could never think of such a plot. I'd be a writer if I could.

"Wuthering Heights" by Emily Bronte is a virtual sister volume to Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre." The sibling Gothic novelists and their works are often confused. George C. Scott and Susannah York starred in the 1971 British TV-movie version, the third filming we can find. Virginia Bruce and Colin Clive starred in a 1934 rendering, and Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine played the leads in a famous 1944 feature showcasing a very young Elizabeth Taylor. By the way, Bronte's brooding hero is named Rochester, not Rothchild.

Nell Booker illustrations, and P.B.B.

Here are a few illustrations from a 1946 edition of Jane Eyre, illustrated by Nell Booker, with introduction by May Lamberton Becker. Apparently "a Rainbow Classic".

*insert other illustrations here... Blogger is once again giving me grief! eheu! I'll try again this evening.

In other news, I was tired of studying this evening and so I took a peek at 'Poems of Patrick Branwell Brontë' or rather the introduction. I didn't feel justified in reading the poems themselves since I really do need to study for midterm exams, but the introduction was an interesting read... Especially the declaration: "Branwell was the second best poet among the Brontës." A pretty strong statement! I have read a few poems by Branwell in my travels. Several were quite good and one was plain awful. It seems to me that people are in the habit of saying ridiculous things about Branwell and his work. I recall reading an article for a seminar which declared that, under certain circumstances (hinting that this applied only to Branwell) "the Parsonage produced trash." I cannot say that I've seen such language used in literary criticism elsewhere, and it is shocking.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Radio Times article on Jane Eyre 1973

Here's the longest article I have on this particular production and it isn't really about the production at all. It carefully sidesteps it entirely! Instead we get to hear two pretty nutty views on Jane Eyre. Some of it even crosses the line from nutty to offensive.

As BBC2 begins a new serialisation of Charlotte Brontë's classic, two Yorkshire writers, John Braine and Phyllis Bentley, talk about the novel to Ruth Inglis

A JANE FOR ALL GENERATIONS"Jane is really a liberated girl, but not immoral- far from it- a staunch Christian."

John Braine, author of Room at the Top, thinks that Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre had a great influence on his own writing- and on his own Yorkshire childhood generally.

I met him at his office in Woking, Surrey, a cramped broom closet kind of a room which just manages to hold his own desk- a place of work a long way from Joe Lampton's idea of the de luxe.

Speaking of Charlotte Brontë, the 51-year-old author mellows and almost the apolectically angry television pundit one so often sees ripping the innards out of left-wing ideas fades away.

Charlotte Brontë made me realise that the only real materail for a writer is what he knows best. There's no need to go looking for exotic backgrounds you don't understand. I came from Bingley, Yorkshire, and from my attic window I could see the beginning of the moors to Haworth where the Brontës lived, and I used to walk the road that Charlotte used to take to get out there, the very self-same road.

'Jane Eyre is really a liberated girl,' he says admiringly, 'but not an immoral girl- far from it- a stauch Christian. But though her morals are conventional enough, she doesn't have any feelings at all about Rochester's lurid past. She knows Rochester is a middle-aged rake, but in this she's curiously modern. She goes for the old rake with a bit of experience. But she always appeals to Rochester on exactly equal terms and when they're talking as man and woman.

There is a theory that in Jane Eyre we have the perfect example of the repressed Victorian woman's fantasy emasculation of the overbearing male (she did after all, s it's exponents explain, end up with a blind, half-maimed man she had to lead by the hand). Braine dismissed this with a return to his gritty, angry Yorkshire persona.

'What a load of rubbish. Rochester was quite able to find one part of her. Theirs is a genuine, overwhelming passion- something there wasn't much of in the English novel of the 19th century. Jane didn't have any desire to make him helpless. Even blind, he had the same appeal for her because he was still so masculine.

The more feminine a woman, the more masculine there is in her and the more masculine the man, the more feminine there is in him... I'm not talking about unisex. You measure things by their opposites. What makes a man more masculine is a quality of tenderness. A cruel man is effeminate and a woman who caves in at adversity isn't a true woman.'

While admitting that Jane was a modern woman, Braine felt she still knew the best way to get her mana nd that this ruse was age-old. 'Morals haven't changed much since Jane's time. Very often the way still to get your man is to hold out. Putting a high price on the commodity still holds the most attraction for a man.'

~interview with Phyllis Bentley~Phyllis Bentley, a spry, white-haired Yorkshirewoman just turned 70, spoke affectionately of Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre's creator, as she drove me at a brisk pace around the steep hills of her native Halifax in her bright new red car.

'I was born eight miles from the Brontë Parsonage in Haworth and I have a great sympathy for the family, especially Charlotte.'

With some satisfaction, Miss Bentley said that the thousands of American tourists who come to visit the Haworth pasonage where the Brontës lived tend to buy one of her Brontë biographies on the way (she has written two of them).

'Like Charlotte, I had a great difficulty in finding satisfying work.' she says. 'I was always eager to work for my living and at that date it was not always easy. The social atmosphere was much against women taking degrees. But I went ahead and got one, anyway at London University, this after going to Cheltenham. Now, mercifully, most every Yorkshire girl can find a job if she wants to.'

Miss Bentley is convinced tht Jane Eyre would not have felt out of place working in Leeds or Halifax today. Not only was she fully modern, but she was spirited. In many ways, the Halifax authoress prefers 'spirited' women to the more militant variety.

'Being a governess was about all a woman could do in Jane's day- a governess, how awful! But she wouldn't submit. When Rochester asked if she thought him handsome, she snapped out, "No, sir!"

'She would have the same intesity and passiont today. Even now you have to put up quite a fight to get a really top job. After all, woman's emotions haven't changed much since then. You can fall in love in any century, you know.'

She feels that today's women still long for a man like Rochester who is strong spirit and soul.

"He would be the wishfulfilment of every spinister then and now, the hero to whom they can deliver saucy remarks to show their independent spirit. That kind of dominating man appeals particularly to the woman who's not eager to surrender. I think this is why single women are so permissive today. They are searching for someone to fulfil these very fantasies.'
(Michael Jayston, who plays Mr Rochester, in front of Norton Conyers. Sorcha Cusack, who plays Jane, in front of Brontë cottages at Cowan Bridge).

Another pleasant evening...

At last, I am free! I've been running student elections under quite trying circumstances. Today's events are Brontë related, and so, here we go! I had a 3 hour shift running a polling station, and what better way to pass away the tedium than to read some books about the Brontës? I had left my copy of Agnes Grey at home, but I've memorised where their section is in the library. I scooped up a few, and was checking them out when a classmate stopped me to ask about an upcoming paper. We sat down in the coffee house to talk it over. She saw the books and exclaimed: "Oh God, you're reading that?" Of course, I was. "The Brontës. I don't mind them," she continued. After a pensive moment: "I read that one... by that one... 'Withering Heights!' I read that. I didn't mind that one." I proceed to astound her by announcing my intention to study the Brontës and Victorian literature. "The Brontës are Victorian?!" ...I'm finding it difficult to conceptualise the Brontës NOT being Victorian.

A few weeks back I had a very different experience. That time I had the Helen Jerome play, an illustrated copy of Jane Eyre, Barker's 'The Brontes,' Agnes Grey, the poems of Branwell Bronte and... a few other things. ;) I staggered into class, and put the pile down on my desk. Someone next to me immediately cried out and snatched Jane Eyre from the top of the pile declaring it her absolute favourite. I was the astounded one this time- it has been my experience that people generally don't even know who the Brontës are- or if they do, they think of Emily and Wuthering Heights (or Withering... ;). I was even more shocked because after her cry someone nearby seconded this, and so we three rejoiced and lamented the general lack of Brontë-love. "How could you not love this book?" One of them demanded, reflecting on her experience in high school.

I've noticed one interesting thing... Whenever I'm caught reading the Brontës people tend to ask me if I'm reading for pleasure.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Marla Schaffel on Jane Eyre

Copyright 2000 Plain Dealer Publishing Co.Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio)
November 26, 2000



Nobody promised Marla Schaffel it would be easy.

It was 1995 when Schaffel, a dark-haired actress with an enticing soprano voice, performed the role of Jane Eyre at the first public reading of John Caird and Paul Gordon's musicalization of the Charlotte Bronte novel.

Now it is 2000. More readings, several workshops and two pre-Broadway productions later, "Jane Eyre" will finally open at the Brooks AtkinsonTheatre in New York Dec. 3, and Schaffel will star in a part to which she has devoted much of her young career.

"It's been very hard," says Schaffel, talking about the last half-decade during an interview at her Jersey City, N.J., apartment. Schaffel, two rambunctious Australian shepherds named Hotspur and Illyria, and one intimidated cat recently moved from Manhattan to a row house here. "Thehighs have been great, and the disappointments have been great. I'm not avery excitable person anyway, but we're on Broadway, and I think I should begoing Whooeee' - you know, dancing in the street. But it's just another day in a show that I love dearly. Because it has been five years."

Musicals are notoriously difficult to birth, requiring skilled collaborationas well as large numbers of dollars. But "Jane Eyre" has had a harder labor than most. A 1995 workshop in Wichita, Kan., led Canada-based producer and theater owner David Mirvish to take the show to Toronto in 1996, with an eyetoward Broadway. But mixed reviews returned the creative team to the drawingboard.

By the time "Jane Eyre" had its second pre-Broadway stand in 1999, at LaJolla Playhouse in California, Caird's book and Gordon's score had gonethrough numerous changes, and American Scott Schwartz had joined EnglishmanCaird as co-director; James Barbour had replaced Anthony Crivello in the leading role of Edward Rochester, the moody, secretive owner of Thornfield Hall, where the orphaned Jane Eyre is hired as a governess; and Mirvish had departed.

"After Toronto," Schaffel recalls, "there was a reading where I felt I nolonger had an active character to play. And I was very clear to them at the end of that reading that we were not going in the right direction. And partof that has been the struggle about whether and how the ensemble should bethe voice of Jane. But Jane just became an incredibly passive character. And that's not for me."

Bound for the arts

Inaction is not Schaffel's approach to life, onstage or off. Raised in what she describes as the "cultural wasteland" of Miami, Schaffel nonetheless decided that she wanted to be in the arts. She just didn't know which art to choose.

"I started studying piano at 6; I wanted to be a classical pianist," the32-year-old actress relates about her childhood exuberance. "I started studying ballet and I wanted to be a ballet dancer. I always sang, and Iwanted to be an opera singer."

"When I was 10 or 11," she remembers, "I saw Teresa Stratas perform Mimi inLa Boheme' at the Metropolitan Opera. It rocked my world. She was the most spectacular actress I had laid eyes on. She was so vulnerable, and her physicality was so beautiful. When the sound came out of her, and she was hunched over, it just came from her bowels. She threw caution to the wind when she was performing. I decided I wanted to be that kind of actress."

In 1990, Schaffel graduated from the acting program at New York City's Juilliard School. Four years later, with hard-won credits on her resume, including a stint as Fantine in the endlessly running "Les Miserables," sheauditioned for Caird, who had directed "Les Miz." He was looking for a singer-actress to play Jane Eyre for a reading at Manhattan Theatre Club.

"I remember wearing my hair up for that audition," says Schaffel, "and trying to be as small as I possibly could. Jane Eyre is supposed to be very short. Bronte herself was not even 5 feet. And she is supposed to be plain.I wore flats and a dress and no makeup whatsoever."

"I sang my normal songs," Schaffel recalls, "which is one really high soprano number and one big belt number, and then John asked for a monologue- I had been asked to prepare a Shakespeare monologue. It was some compilation of Portia's lines from The Merchant of Venice,' and I went up on my lines in the middle of it. And John totally fed me the lines, to help getme on track. I was stunned. And I was mortified."

Only one choice

Schaffel was the only actress Caird called back for the role."I saw all the qualities of Jane in Marla," the director said during arecent telephone conversation. "Spiritual and emotional intensity and intelligence. The actress playing Jane has to be able to think and convey to an audience that she is thinking. Marla has the clarity and analytical powers essential for playing a Bronte heroine."

Because of Schaffel's commitment to "Jane Eyre," at times it feels as though her career is on hold while she waits for productions of "Eyre" to materialize. Even after La Jolla, months passed before the producers found a suitable, and available, Broadway house, and last summer Schaffel used the time to star in "Enter the Guardsman," an off-Broadway musical.

Finding her way into the role after a hiatus also brings challenges. "Jane's openness and vulnerability are the hardest things to get back to," says Schaffel. "I'm not generally a very vulnerable person, and it's hard for me to open myself every time we start the show again. Also, I've changed so much in five years, and my life has changed drastically - I was married around the time I got the show and now I'm no longer with my husband - that I have to remind myself to remember the unjaded, youthful side of Jane. Each time it becomes a process of tearing down my walls."

It has continued to be difficult," says Schaffel, "but it has continued to be great."

Marla Schaffel woreflats, a dress, no makeup and her hair up to audition for the part of Jane Eyre, a role she not only won, but also has been working on for five years in changing versions of the musical, "Jane Eyre." The show based on the Charlotte Bronte novel of the same name is finally set to open on Broadway Dec. 3. James Barbour stars as Edward Rochester.

(above right: Mary Stout as Mrs.Fairfax, and Marla Schaffel as Jane Eyre at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto. Blogger is not allowing me to post the other pictures at the moment, so check back in the morning to see how Jane changed from Toronto to Broadway).

ETA: (above left. Marla Schaffel as Jane Eyre with young Jane played by. Publicity photo for the La Jolla production. Bottom Right. Marla Schaffel as Jane Eyre from the Broadway production).

Monday, October 17, 2005

Hey, where are my spoons? DUN DUN DUNN! *

I have been driven mad today, so I'm a little sillier than usual. I must have a book ready to publish by wednesday and everyone is dragging their feet, files aren't working, and- oh yes- can you illustrate the bio tonight? *sigh*

Thisbeciel sent me this, which appalled but amused me. I think I've heard the music for this. I may have. I've heard that there are something like 30 musicals of Jane Eyre alone, but I only know the magnificent one... and the "feel-good 1960s one" (with peppy Mr Brocklehurst enthusing about the lack of lunch at Lowood!). There will be no lunch! *sparkle jump!* bad, bad, bad mental pictures... Also, I think Rochester's proposal song is called "I have Something Stupid to Tell You." Anyway, here's my response to Thisbeciel's report.

Now, it seems that a lot of adaptations cannot help turning Mr Rochester into a minx. This is just terrible, I hope you will agree:

Rochester: You say "farewell". I find I need more than that. I need... (He gives her a gentle kiss)I needed that. Now go.

Jane: (totally confused) I don't know what to say.

Rochester: And that is exactly when you should find the strength to say nothing.

Jane: Goodbye, I will think. (She pulls away but he grabs her hand and gently kisses it. With great fortitude, she reaches up and kisses him again.)

But then Mr Mason starts talking spy-speak:

"And it would seem that Mr. Mason has more of a backbone in this version- cue in this response when the servant tells Mason Rochester is too busy to see visitors- "tell Mr. Rochester that the weather is lovely in Jamaica"

"LOL! Sounds like code speak to me. I wonder what Mr. R could respond...

Rochester: Tell him that the mangoes still seem to be sickly though.
Mason: Tell Rochester that the mangoes are sickly because they are kept hidden away under a tarp."

But this is my favourite:

"I forgot to mention another part when the guests are there and they ask him to sing, Mr. R. says:"I have no intention of favoring you all with baritone majesty."

*This joke will only make sense if you've listened to Mystery Theatre Jane Eyre, and read the comments to this post.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Anthony Crivello on Jane Eyre

There's so little left about the early days of this musical, and so far my research helper, Kristin, has been unable to track down what I could call Mr. Crivello's take on playing Rochester in particular, but she did turn up this very insightful article (I've actually taken the liberty of cutting out some of the material about Crivello's other work, and his experiences training as an actor but if anyone would like to see these, do not hesitate to email me). It's quite a shame. I think his performance on the cast CD is glorious, but alas, this is all I will ever know of it! (My sister has told me that she auditioned for the show's Toronto run but never told me, and thus I didn't know about the musical until it had closed).

Jane Eyre star glad to be back playing Toronto Anthony Crivello last here in Spider Woman debut

Copyright 1996 Toronto Star Newspapers, Ltd.
The Toronto StarNovember 27, 1996, Wednesday, METRO EDITION SECTION:

By Rita Zekas Toronto Star

It's a shame Anthony Crivello will have to lose his goatee. It looks so good on him. But it won't sit right on Mr. Rochester.

Crivello plays Rochester to Marla Schaffel's Jane in Jane Eyre, the musical play that opens Dec. 3 at the Royal Alexandra Theatre. He's happy to be back in Toronto. He was last here in '92 playing Marxist revolutionary Valentin in Kiss Of The Spider Woman, which debuted in Metro prior to its Broadway run. Crivello went on to win a Tony Award in the best featured actor category for Valentin."The Tony helped to continue to put me in the public eye ," he allowed.

In fashionable black turtle neck, Crivello looked contemporary Italian. And his body English speaks Italian, given his penchant for waving his hands around dramatically for emphasis. Crivello was in on the birthing process for Jane Eyre. He brought together the key people, John Caird and Paul Gordon. Canadian-born Caird, co-director of the Royal Shakespeare Company's productions of Les Miserables and Nicholas Nickleby, adapted Charlotte Bronte's classic novel and is the director. Gordon wrote the music and lyrics. Crivello knew Gordon from Les Miserables on Broadway, where he was Javert and Gordon did the score."That meeting was 4 1/2 years ago," Crivello recalled. "We had a rehearsal in Wichita, Kansas last year. (Far from the madding New York critics.) We played to a house of 650 seats as part of the subscription series. There were 21 performances, by the final week it was SRO.

"Jane Eyre has universal themes: redemption, forgiveness, lack ofimportance in status and wealth. In Wichita, people from age 8 to 80 were crying their eyes out. When Rochester asks, 'Jane, will you marry me?', the audience talks back: 'Say, yes!'"It's lyrical, has romantic sweep, complexity of individuals, and is so emotional," he enthused. "It is a character-driven piece, you don't have the kind of mechanics involved with musicals these days. You go back to that glorious story of Bronte's, a Gothic epic. John Napier's set is a representational piece with labyrinth and corridors and hallways. It is a metaphor for Rochester's mind."

And once again, here is where you can listen to the Toronto Cast recording.

(Above right: Anthony Crivello as Mr Rochester. Above left: Marla Schaffel as Jane Eyre).

Charlotte Brontë’s Villette

Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough
20 October – 12 November 2005

A brand new adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s Villette can be seen at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough from 20 October – 12 November. Presented in association with Frantic Assembly, Villette is the SJT’s tribute to Charlotte Brontë on the 150th anniversary of her death.

A new life beckons for Lucy Snowe, who leaves behind her past and flees from England. As a teacher in a school in the town of Villette, Lucy is faced with a world of coquettish schoolgirls, a fierce headmistress and stories of a ghostly nun who haunts the dormitories. It is enough to push her fevered imagination to the edge, enduring fire, storms and unrequited love. But could a happy ending be in her grasp?

Villette is Charlotte Brontë’s most autobiographical novel, based on her experiences when travelling through Europe where she fell passionately and dangerously in love. Her last completed work, Villette was written after the death of her sister Anne, who is buried in Scarborough.

Villette is adapted by Lisa Evans, whose other adaptations for stage include Anne Brontë’s The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall and Daphne Du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn. Director Laurie Sansom combines the powerful text with choreographed movement provided by theatre company Frantic Assembly.

The award-winning Frantic Assembly stand at the forefront of modern British physical theatre and over the past 10 years have become one of the most pioneering and exciting companies in the UK. The movement directors on Villette are Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett, who are founder members and joint Artistic Directors of the company.

The Stephen Joseph Theatre was founded 50 years ago and was the UK’s very first theatre-in-the-round. The SJT is led by Artistic Director Alan Ayckbourn, the world’s most performed living playwright. One of the few new writing venues in the country, the SJT also produces innovative adaptations of classics.

All tickets for Early Bird performances on 20 – 25 October cost £8.50. Best seats for all other performances are a special price of £10 for Bronte List members. For more information call the Box Office on 01723 370541 or email: tickets@sjt.uk.com

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Who are these people?

This is undoubtedly the most beautiful cover design I have ever come across for Jane Eyre, but who are these people? I think my eyes are playing tricks on me, or perhaps this really is a blond Rochester? They look more like St.John and Rosamond, perhaps- or Blanche (although Blanche wouldn't be caught dead in that brown wrap, there are red ribbons peeking out, so who can tell?) Apparently this book was published in January of this year. You can buy it here from Amazon.com.

ETA: I think that we should keep a list of all of the people who wrote Wuthering Heights- that is unless Emily Dickinson also wrote a book called Wuthering Heights... Good grief...

U of Maryland JE Review:

I'm so glad to have such dedicated friends! My informant at the U of Maryland has seen their production of Jane Eyre twice now- once on opening night- and is planning on seeing it again. I refrained from reviewing the show after the first performance because things got off to a poor beginning. The biggest problem being that the actor playing Rochester is very ill and yet they did not bring in an understudy. Out of sympathy for him I did not want to pass along the review. The good news is that this performance was "MUCH better" in almost every respect.

In a previous Brontëana post I quoted James barbour on the difficulty of the Rochester role, which puts tremendous demands on the vocal range of a performer. I can imagine the frustration of having to perform such a taxing role while even slightly impaired. I once lost my voice in the middle of a vocal recital. To him much respect for not only pulling through but coming back stronger this time around- even while he is still unwell.

A few things from her earlier review that I really want to mention: "Mostly, I just felt bad for the guy and wanted to burst out singing his lines for him. But a soprano Rochy would've been weird. Plus all the people sitting around me would've not been thrilled." I actually have a recording of her singing one of Rochester's songs. (Hey, they're catchy!)

Other observations (from the shakey opening night):

"Jane (Joanna Howard) - She was decent. Not spectacular, but she could sing, at least. Unfortunately, she is a soprano with absolutely NO lower range (or no confidence in it, anyway), so she transposed a damn lot of notes. That made me cringe quite a lot, because it just wasn't done very well. She was at least solid enough to hold the show together, though. Once she got comfortable and stopped concentrating so hard on singing perfectly and put some feeling behind it, she really was a good actress. I suspect she's heard the OBC quite a lot too, which really isn't a complaint.

Helen Burns (Elizabeth J. Zimmerman) - She was wonderful! I would've been kicking myself for not auditioning had Helen been bad, but this was a good Helen. She wasn't as strong an actress, but she has a lovely voice. Her weak points were that she kept bobbing her head, and she didn't seem to bring young Jane in as well as she could have. She also played Mary Ingram.

Richard Mason (Christopher Wilson) - Oh! He could sing! it was sad they cut his song to Bertha at the end, because he could sing! Not a bad actor either.

St. John Rivers (David Fair) - He could *really* sing! It's a *double* shame they cut his song in half! :-P He would've made a nice Rochy u/s too, so I really have no idea why they didn't train him up for't. ::sigh:: I have a hard time hating musical!St. John as much as I hate novel!St. John, though. Methinks it's because he started off as Stephen Buntrock, so he's become too nice. Oh well.

Edward Fairfax Rochester (James Gardiner)Unfortunately, the poor boy was SICK AS A DOG tonight. He ended up having to speak most of his sung lines. It was truly tragic--both for the audience and, I suspect, for him. He gets kudos for going on stage anyway, but it was truly wretched. Most of the time, when he got into a duet, he'd back off some of his lines altogether and let the girl sing by herself, which messed up some of the dynamics. He did try to speak most of the important lines, though, but it was sometimes hard to hear him. He does sound like he might have a very nice voice when he's not sick, though. And he sure tried hard!! But such things can ruin shows, and I'm trying to figure out WHY ON EARTH they didn't have an u/s."

And for the second viewing:

Jane: "Was absolutely wonderful for the most part. They seem to have solved her pitch problems by giving her starting notes in the orchestra.
The orchestra: "Fab."
Mrs.Fairfax: "Was a *riot*"
Blanche: "Was very cute. I think, actually, she's holding back because she's opera trained and worried about busting the mic.
Helen: "Isn't doing the head-bob thing nearly as much, which is nice."
Rochester: "Rochy's still sick, but he managed to sing a bit more of "Sirens," at least. I must reiterate that he's a wonderful actor and pulls off the spoken lines well. Also the Rochy/Jane chemistry was MUCH better tonight."

And: "The other thing I'd forgot to gush about yesterday was the set. They did some really kick-ass work with that, so kudos to them!"

In closing, she would like to say "Good luck to Rochy" and "the conductor was fab." :)

Friday, October 14, 2005

Wuthering Heights in 5 Parts and more news for Jane Eyre: The Musical

*NB: It has been brought to my attention that part two of WH had been omitted by mistake. I've tried to correct this. Please let me know if there are any problems.

Biedroneczka, who brought us Mystery Theatre Jane Eyre, has also kindly posted a five-part BBC radio adaptation with Amanda Root as Cathy and John Duttine as Heathcliff! I haven't listened to this particular version. My computer really cannot handle large downloads.

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five

ETA: "'Jane Eyre' failed on Broadway because the economics of musicals do not allow for maturity." An article on article about a current production of the show:

JANE EYRE: THE MUSICAL. By John Caird and Paul Gordon. At CM Performing Arts Center, 931 Montauk Hwy., Oakdale, through Oct.23. Tickets $16-$28. Call 631-218-2810.

An addendum to the previous post on costuming...

Thanks to Lisa, I present this photo which very likely accompanied the article posted yesterday about costuming in Jane Eyre: The Musical.

Costume designer Andreane Neofitou makes adjustments for James Barbour (Mr Rochester).

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Costuming in Jane Eyre

Again, due to the too too wonderful Kristin!

South Bend Tribune (Indiana)May 13, 2001 Sunday Michigan EditionSECTION:

INTERMISSION; Pg. E3HEADLINE: Dressed to thrill; Behind the curtain, costume designer allows work to take center stageBYLINE: By KARIN LIPSON; Newsday

NEW YORK -- Not a beat was lost in the busy backstage rhythm of the Brooks Atkinson Theatre as actor Stephen R. Buntrock [who played St.John Rivers and understudied the role of Rochester] yelled, in mock outrage, "She's got her hands down my pants!"

Andreane Neofitou did indeed have her hands, if not exactly down, at least on the back of Buntrock's trousers. But then, this was the last technical rehearsal for the Broadway musical "Jane Eyre," which recently received a best musical Tony Award nomination.

Neofitou, the show's costume designer, was ready to do some pants adjusting for a cast member if that's what was needed. So, too, with fixing the elegant pale green damask waistcoat of male lead James Barbour, or checking out some wigs, or fretting over an actress's ill-fitting shoe.
What was she looking for, exactly? "I look at everything," she said. "There's nothing I'm looking for, because I don't know what won't be right. If you see something, it means it's wrong."
Uh-oh. She saw something. But what? On stage, it was a beautiful day in the neighborhood, if your neighborhood happened to be the moody English moors. In the garden of mysterious Thornfield Hall, Jane (played by Marla Schaffel) had chanced upon a bevy of bratty aristocrats, led by the flighty Blanche Ingram (Elizabeth DeGrazia). Blanche was all flounces and ruffles and pouffy white silk taffeta, while Jane -- plain Jane, penniless Jane, the lowly governess -- was severely clad in black. A perfect contrast in station and character, it would seem.

But in her seat, Neofitou was not entirely pleased. Those dazzling white dresses of Blanche and company threatened to visually overwhelm the dark gown worn by Jane, upsetting the balance of the scene.

"I could put her gray collar on, so it catches the light a little more," mused Neofitou, as her assistant, Devon Painter, took notes.

Within days, not only was the collar on, but Neofitou was shopping for fabric during previews to create new, more casual and less commanding pastel dresses for the silly gaggle of girls that mocks Jane in the garden.

Dressing down a scene is not what one usually thinks of as a goal of a costume designer. But "for me, it's never a matter of doing pretty costumes," said Neofitou. "I'm trying to bring a world -- with period pieces, specifically, it's an alien world -- to modern audiences, to make that world the present. I don't want to have a barrier between the audience and what's going on onstage. You have to make that costume so familiar, so real to that character, that the audience doesn't see the costumes, it sees the character."

It also, of course, doesn't see the costume designer. With a few striking exceptions costume designers, much like most set designers and lighting directors, are only vaguely known to the public; though she has created the costumes for such megahits as "Miss Saigon" and "Les Miserables" (which won her a Tony nomination), Neofitou is not exactly a household name. Yet her work is part of the glue that holds a show together.

Complementing the director

Neofitou previously worked with John Caird, who wrote the book for "Jane Eyre" and is its co-director, and with set designer John Napier (who happens also to be her ex-husband), on "Les Miz" and "Nicholas Nickleby." She also worked with Napier on "Miss Saigon."
"I'm trying to augment what the director is saying or the actor is doing," Neofitou says. When the emphasis of a character changes during rehearsals, which are frequently attended by the costume designer, "You do bend the costumes. The costumes are always fluid."
This sort of continuing involvement with the show and the ability to make adjustments gracefully seem to be keys to successful costume design.

For most good set designers, the entire process starts with research. In "Miss Saigon," for example, an early nightclub scene featuring scantily clad prostitutes was based on documentary photographs of similar young women in Vietnam War-era Saigon.

In the case of "Les Miserables" or, currently, "Jane Eyre," research meant going back to the book that was its source. Charlotte Bronte's famed 1847 novel about the unprepossessing title heroine and her love for her secretive employer Edward Rochester "is very descriptive, in that she has two dresses when she goes to Thornfield -- a black silk and a grey silk." And that is pretty much what she wears in the show, with a few modifications.

From paper to fabric

Born in Cyprus, Neofitou moved with her parents to England at age 7. A graduate of art school, she was a fashion designer in London until her marriage to Napier led her increasingly into theater work. Nowadays, she does her initial sketches in Crete, where she has lived full time for the past four years.

Once her sketches for the show were complete, Neofitou began to turn them into reality with trusted workmen in London and New York. "The most important person is the one who actually cuts the item, that gives it the look you require," she said. A mock-up costume is made, usually in toile ("it's a cheap fabric, and it doesn't matter if it's wrong"); after the inevitable adjustments, it's remade in the actual fabric and tried on the actor, whom Neofitou has had in mind all along. "You can't start until you know who your actors are anyway, because you have to go along with their body."

From this process, Neofitou finally gets to nights like the recent one at the Brooks Atkinson, where she was adjusting men's trousers and deciding on how to rework that garden scene. Eventually, the tinkering on "Jane Eyre" would be done, and she would be able to actively oversee the creation of her costumes for a Metropolitan Opera production of Verdi's "Nabucco."
And then, at some point, it would be home to Crete. "It's wonderful to live in the rarefied atmosphere of theater, but one tends to get terribly caught up in this life, and it's not real," Neofitou says. "I think it's better for me as a person and as a designer to be able to touch reality, and Crete is as far away as you can get from the theater crowd and the theater world socially."
One thing is certain. From her perch in Crete, "I hardly see any other costume designers."

The drawing is one of the costume concepts, printed in the liner notes of the Broadway cast recording.

An American Review of Jane Eyre 1973 (Sorcha Cusack and Michael Jayston)

Oh Kristin, you amaze me! You can definately be my research assistant! :D I nearly fell out of my chair reading one line in particular- see if you can guess which one (not to mention hemming in indignation once or twice)!

Copyright 1982 The Washington Post

The Washington Post July 21, 1982, Wednesday, Final Edition

TV Brings 'Jane Eyre' to Life

By Henry Mitchell:

Women, as I understand it, are endlessly impressed by jerks and bounders, especially if called on to be the means of reform and general salvation."I saw it in your eyes," the fellow commonly says, "that you would be the means of my return to something more noble, more innocent, zub, zub, zub."

At this point the lady swoons away, taking care to collapse in the general direction of the cad's arms.

Now whether this is the usual case in real life I hardly know, but it certainly works well enough in Victorian fiction by Charlotte Bronte ,notably in her masterpiece, "Jane Eyre," which came out in 1847 and has been a tremendous favorite of the gentle gender ever since. I well remember hearing girls talk about it when I was in school, and always wondered what or who the hell Jane Eyre was. Then many of us heard it read aloud at one point on public radio, with great effect. Bronte is a gripping writer, always luring the reader along with the promise (adequately fulfilled) of something new going on.

At 8 tonight you may see the story dramatized on Channel 26, the first of four hour-long segments [This is obviously the truncated version. there are 5 episodes but the first one was cut from American airings] produced by the British Broadcasting Corp. in living, as they say, color that allows the hero to sing the praises of a cold gray house (before us in warm tawny Ham stone, I would guess) and a steel sky that looked fairly suitable for bluebirds.

But the audience for which Miss Bronte wrote has never been known to care a fried fandango whether a house is gray or scarlet as long as the love story moves with all deliberate speed; and (allowing for 1847) it certainly does. Jane is played by Sorcha Cusack, a young woman of dandy articulation and considerable beauty. It is an odd sort of beauty, suggesting the Mona Lisa touched with Orphan Annie and this may be the place to say the owner's hound is far too handsome to be left outdoors all the time. Jane is an orphan--though I do not think that is why Orphan Annie came to mind--who for some years has attended a charity school and has wound up as governess for the the young ward of a Mr. Rochester. All this goes on inYorkshire in a grim-looking house with a fine fire place worth admiring.The hero, this Mr. Rochester, frequently drops broad hints of a previously dissolute life, the main feature of which (thus far) was a fling with aParisian opera girl. Perhaps that is the same as an opera singer? No matter, she lured good English gold out of Mr. Rochester's honest English breeches,which the actor, Michael Jayston, calls breaches as in breaches of faith.

It is known that the Brits, especially in their lower reaches, are impossible to understand; nevertheless, every word of the hour is beautifully delivered and comprehensible, a rare thing on television."Is there a flood?" cries Mr. Rochester, waking suddenly in his bedroom as Miss Eyre throws a bucket of water on him."No, but there is a fire," she cries and sure enough, the bed hangings are ablaze. Rochester notes that Jane has saved him from a horrible death and the hour ends with a beautiful, tender "Jane," spoken softly and with skill by Jayston. Long before this, however, you will have little doubt that things are going to warm up in a most wonderful way between the squire and the governess, and we shall not be disappointed in our surmise as later hours unfold. The intonations of Jayston, by which he virtually makes love while delivering rather cool lines, are notable and effective and and probably are rolling the author about in her grave. But maybe not. The strong current of sex was apparently not only felt but rather carefully channeled by Charlotte Bronte.

The dialogue is not, of course, the sort we are used to in the theater today. It is artificial--it is hardly conceivable an 18-year-old orphan raised any which way should speak rather like Dame Judith Anderson--and is designed to reveal character. It does, I confess, get rather in the way ofthe hot love story people are patiently waiting for, but then art has its price.

At its best, it sounds like Jane Austen through a glass darkly and that isvery good indeed. The hero's ward (identified as the child of the unmarried opera girl, from "the mud and slime of Paris," don't forget that) is fetchingly played by a charming child, Isabelle Rosin, though there are times one joins with her curator, Mr. Rochester, in wishing to pitch her in that handsome fireplace. The point is she is believable, as infant actresses rarely are. Furthermore, old Mrs. Fairfax, the housekeeper, and the other minor characters are agreeable. I suppose the dog is a deerhound. You have surely noticed that novels sometimes have an interior power that is evidently independent of their surface mannerisms and (to us) hilarities."Jane Eyre" has leapt the time barrier far better than most novels. It seems to me girls were about 15 when they had fits about it, and maybe they stilldo."

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Jane Eyre 1937 by Helen Jerome

I have read the entire play now. Well... It is silly, there's no way around that, but it is also a strange piece of adaptation on many ways. I can appreciate that some of the strange new scenes come about because of staging concerns but others appear to be odd ways of interpreting the text. Some of the necessary evils are that the set can only be one location- an indoor scene. And so for acts one and two there is only the drawingroom of Thornfield, with a downstage right door which leads to an entire wing of the house where 'the madwoman' roams. The room sometimes is transformed into 'the library' quite easily. In act three it becomes the drawingroom of Moor House. Of course, this means no Gateshead, Lowood, or Hay Lane scenes not to mention Jane's wanderings.

So, how do Jane and Rochester meet? He finds her warming her feet and she unknowingly ruffles him by asking what he's doing there. It's sometimes a bit overly dramatic- which I think you could see from my last post on the play. So he indeed informs her that there's something quite horrible behind the door. It's a silly scene also because it introduces a fetish he has for small women. It does include one of my favourite 'new' exchanges, the first words they speak to eachother, in fact:

Rochester: And who might you be? Where did you come from? Have you descended from a moonbeam? Or are you a discontented hamadryad escaped from your oaky prison?
Jane: I am just Jane Eyre, the new governess.

Rochester: Deuce take me, if I hadn't forgotten! The new governess! "Just" Jane Eyre!

Much is made of her smallness. In the stage directions he should somehow make it known that he is thinking about how tiny her shawl is when he is rubbing and kissing it.

And as for Lowood, Mr Rochester joins the audience as Jane performs her past for him and us. She impersonates everyone and acts it all out in the drawingroom/library.

We are told a lot that Mr Rochester does not laugh. And then he laughs all the time. He laughs a lot. Too much maybe. But characters still come in later to say you know how Mr Rochester never laughs, and all that. He also has somehow acquired the ability to vacate a room with a single glance. Servants stampede towards the door at one look from him. He goes so far as to tell John that he never even speaks to servants unless he wants something and until then STAY OUT OF MY WAY! Or... something like that. Again, silly. He also has extreme mood swings. Of course he is supposed to be 'changeful' but I'm sure Charlotte didn't mean that he would draw Jane into an embrace only to shout at her and throw her out of the room. Or nearly break down at the saddness of her former life and then yell at her for being so depressing.

Jane is the most enigmatic element of the entire production. She comes in with a superhuman power of some kind, starts off pleasant and at ease. She is often 'demure' around Rochester but only at certain times (times when it seems more like flirtation, to be honest). But then she tells him about how she punched Mr Brocklehurst etc... She has a great speech about women, modelled on Jane's musing on the leads, but then she ends up in the end espousing something like: "love is what makes one endure superiority". Is this a marriage of equals? It appears not. Oh, I forgot to mention that in this play Mr Rochester thinks women are stupid and silly things. This never seems to change. He just thinks Jane is one really amazing woman. I thought she should have "pummelled him with my little fists" at that, but alas...

As for Bertha... she doesn't get to do very much. And all of the mystery is cut out by the revellation in the first act! We all know that Mr Rochester's relative is up there, and all of the significant glances at the door serve no real purpose except perhaps to make us slightly apprehensive that she'll come down and choke someone again. There is also no explaination of how that first marriage came about. He cuts directly to begging her to stay.

The ending was very disappointing. It was the most ineffective part of the entire work. There were really good moments, I must say. And aside from this total insanity there were lovely passages which were more or less lifted from the book (stage directions were also lifted from the novel. For example, Rochester's motivations are transposed from later chapters where he describes how his feelings for Jane developed). The ending uses much of the text, except for a few silly alterations, such as Jane expressing a 'who asked you, anyway?' attitude about staying. But it all ends with something like this:

Jane: And now, dear, show me the spot.
Rochester: The spot? What spot do you mean?
Jane: The spot where you first learned that God really does care.

It really deserved far better than that. Other really poor choices are the way Mr.Eyre's intervention comes about. It is glaringly tagged on in an attempt to abridge Mrs. Reed out of the play. Everyone is confused about how Mr Mason knew about the wedding until Jane pipes in saying she wrote to him because she wanted to show Mr Rochester that she had at least one respectable relative! It reads as uncomfortably as it must look on stage. Does she value herself or not? It's so very hard to tell. Speaking on Mr.Eyre and the letter, there is no scene of Jane rejecting Mr Rochester's presents... He just doesn't buy her any in the first place. But there is one very curious inclusion! Here we have dramatised one of my favourite scenes from the novel- the 'carriage scene' when Mr Rochester recasts a meeting with Jane as a fairy tale for Adele. Only here, Mr Rochester and Jane are teasing eachother on their wedding day. It's delightful! It still suffers from some unfortunate lines "I'll lay you down on the rim of a crater- the crater of my heart!" And I really cannot imagine Jane digging around in his pocket for her wedding ring.

Another odd element is that Mr Rochester admits that Adele is his daughter but that "she will never know". A strange choice to make, and one that leaves many unanswered questions as do the comments about women. Taking everything into account, it would definately deserve a second reading.

'Eyre Apparent' exhibit at UVA...

After the absurdity of the last post, it feels good to have something substantive to report on, thanks to Cheshire Cat of the JE Musical forum, and the Brontë Society, would that I could attend!:

"Below is the latest information on the Jane Eyre exhibit. Please contact Barbara Heritage (the co-curator) if you have any questions. It will greatly assist Barbara in planning events if she hears from members who plan to visit.Eyre Apparent: An Exhibition Celebrating Charlotte Brontë's Classic Novel

Brontë enthusiasts are cordially invited to a day-long celebration of Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre at the University of Virginia (UVa) on Friday, 9 December. The occasion features special tours of a major exhibition opening this fall and on view in the principal room of the University, the Dome Room of Thomas Jefferson's Rotunda.

The show, which commemorates the 150th anniversary of Brontë's death, is titled "Eyre Apparent" and offers up evidence of the book's ubiquity and enduring popularity. From the 19th century to the present, the exhibit follows Jane Eyre from the bookshop to the stage to the classroom to the dollhouse, from the printed word to household word. Displaying everything from series books to Greek comics, and objects ranging from thimbles to cigarette cards, the show sheds light on how Jane Eyre became a classic text and reveals how shifting cultural contexts have affected and continue to shape its meaning.

Gallery tours led by the show's curators will be offered throughout the day. Other events scheduled for December 9th include:-Morning and afternoon screenings of television and film adaptations of Jane Eyre-Guided tours of the Rare Book School collections led by RBS Founding Director and University Professor Terry Belanger, a 2005 recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship-Adjunct exhibit of the first edition and early printings of Jane Eyre owned by UVa, on display in the University's new Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library-Afternoon refreshments and evening reception
All events are free and open to the public. In addition, those who attend the event will receive a 10% discount on purchases made at several of Charlottesville's used and rare bookshops, from 9-11 December. Charlottesville has in recent years become a flourishing center for antiquarian books, with more used and rare bookshops than any other city in Virginia.
A block of hotel rooms has been reserved for Brontë Society at two hotels within walking distance of the Uva campus and all related events taking place that day. Rooms at the Courtyard Marriott will be available at $82 per night (434-977-1700) and at the Best Western Cavalier Inn at $68 per night (434-296-8111). Please mention "Rare Book School at UVa" when you call to make your reservation.

"Eyre Apparent" is co-curated by John Buchtel (Curator of Rare Books, the Sheridan Libraries, Johns Hopkins University) and Barbara Heritage (Curator of Collections, Rare Book School). It is the latest in a continuing series of exhibitions devoted to book history sponsored by Rare Book School, an independent, non-profit and tax-exempt institute supporting the study of the history of books and printing and related subjects.

The show, which is free and open to the public, will remain up through April 2006. UVa's Rotunda is open daily from 9:15 am - 4:45 pm. For directions, complete schedule, or other useful information (including advice on parking), please contact Barbara Heritage at beh7v@virginia.edu. "

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

...*laughs* Sorry, this cannot even pretend to be a serious post.

I've just been reading Helen Jerome's 1930s play of Jane Eyre. I'd have to say... Well, several things. Firstly, I cannot blame Mr Rochester for laughing at Jane as she re-enacts how she punched Mr Brocklehurst "like this, right in his bony chest!" during their first interview. Ah! This play is so many kinds of wonderful silliness... It's terrible, and I love it! The stage directions are pretty fun as well. I'm not sure how exactly Mr Rochester can "look physically" but he does. It's probably something sexual, considering how disturbingly he goes on. And then, you know, smothering Jane's shawl with kisses, before he goes to bed. He does seem a tad more... ornry:

"Here's your damn birthday present!"

And how about this for drama!

(A long, urgent wailing of the wind, like "Jane! Jane! Jane!")

Where are you going? Jane, Jane...
(She is running up the staircase. her voice come floating down)

Jane's voice
(With a note of exultation)
To pack, to pack.

Reminds me of when a Homerist I study with claimed that Virgil's allusion to Catullus in the Aeneid was like inserting a *pppppppppppppt!*.

Rochester: "So my call reached you"
Jane: "Yes, four days ago"

Good, good! :D A lot of it includes much of the text, don't get me wrong, but these little... 'improvements' are quite frequent. At the end, Jane grabs his face and says how he's such a foolish little darling.

Ah... I must have this for my own, entirely my own! ;D

ETA: I should not have been so brief. But I had to return to purusing this treasure. I got through 2 scenes before I had to stop. At one point I just burst out laughing because it just didn't make any sense. What in the world is Mr Brocklehurst's outfit if it is green rusty black shiney Christian martyr style?! Mr Rochester seems to understand this (probably since he's so sympathetic, you see). He keeps nodding, she keeps acting out her life for him (including scaring him with tales on his pulling their hair, and making him laugh even when everyone has assured us that Mr Rochester never laughs. Maybe he just doesn't like how they run away when he looks at them? John is really awfully Irish... I've never seen such horrid dialect work since I read the Samuel Lover Myths of Ireland. Jane keeps shuddering at the thought of Lowood unless she is expressing her desire to murder Mr Brocklehurst (which 'scares' Mr Rochester while strangely compelling him at the same time).

And then they have a brooding contest and glare at eachother in the library for a bit. ;) It's magnificient. I'm curious to see how this works out since Jane actually sees Bertha strangling him instead of having his bed on fire. He conceeds that she's a member of his family, and she seems satisfied with that. Okay, he keeps his relatives in the attic. So long as she doesn't strangle ME, but then I'm a spunky little thing with my quick fists and 'mind-stuff' (when Jane first appears there is a long paragraph of stage direction which means nothing at all. It says how quaker-like Jane is, or, in other words how sophisticated and 'glamourous'. Or to be more confusing, she seems to be shiney with 'genius' or something they describe as 'a second-born soul' with 'mind-stuff'. Confused? How about that there's also stage direction for the cat?

To conclude, I can barely type for laughing!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Monsieur Heger sighting?

As I updated my blog, looking at the image from the UMaryland production of the Jane Eyre musical, a had a vague sense that I had seen this all somewhere before. It didn't really have time to bother me before I realised what was so familiar about the actor playing Mr Rochester- he looks like Constantin Heger. No really. See?

That's M. Constantin Heger on the left, and James Gardiner on the right (from the photo by Stan Barouh). The image on the left is a detail from a large photocopy a friend sent me of a portrait of the Heger family. M.Heger was Charlotte Brontë's teacher while she was studying abroad in Belgium at the Pensionnat Heger. It's my understanding that she based much of Mr Rochester's character on monsieur. They certainly both have a penchant for cigars and bonbons at any rate ;) And it goes without saying that he is the model for the fabulous Paul Carlos Emmanuel, of Villette. I've always wanted to know more about him, but the books I have on hand have been printed in the 1890s and it looks like there had been some censorship going on. Over and over again it is asserted that Charlotte was never in love with the married Heger, but obviously many believed this was so. What the current evidence for either case is, I don't know not having any more recent works for comparison!

The 1970s Yorkshire TV mini-series The Brontes of Haworth certainly asserts that she was in love with Heger. So my guess is that the letters she wrote to him have been widely published, and I just haven't come in contact with them yet.

A little bit of everything, it seems!

More news on the musical, thanks to the heads-up from BrontëBlog. The University of Maryland's independent student newspaper, Diamondback, has published this article on the university's production of Jane Eyre. BrontëBlog also has this nice post, commenting on the article. Among other things, they point out that Mr Rochester has a fan base. I don't really know the purpose for fanlistings but they are everywhere nowadays, and Brontëdom is no exception! Here are a few:

La Governante (Jane Eyre) [link not working at the moment]
Plain and Passionate (Jane Eyre)
Con Spirito (Mr Rochester)
Bronte Sisters

I used to have links for listings of the other sisters and their works as well but they all seem to have disappeared.

Also mentioned in the commentary is the score of the musical. Clips of the Broadway version of which can be listened to here, and the out of print Toronto cast highlights album can be heard in full here.

Lastly, I finally have an email address for Brontëana! Questions, requests, and contributions may be sent to bronteana.blog@gmail.com

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Actors on playing Mr Rochester...Part Three

James Barbour:

The following quotes are from Horwitz, Simi. "Forget Orson Welles in "Jane Eyre".(James Barbour discusseshis role of Rochester in Jane Eyre musical)(Interview)." Back Stage 42.2(Jan 12, 2001): 19. General Reference Center Gold. Thomson Gale. GraduateSch of Lib & Sci/ Simmons Coll. 09 October 2005. Thanks to Kristin for her free research :)

"Some critics think I'm the worst thing to hit the stage. Others see me as the epitome of Rochester. Part of the problem in building this character is that if you go back to the novel ['Jane Eyre' by Charlotte Bronte], you only see him through Jane's eyes.

"The big challenge, however, is that viewers are expecting a performance like one of the many Rochesters who have appeared in the movies. Audiences usually envision Orson Welles [who played the part in 1944]--a 250-pound55-year-old, who is a gruff, dark, tortured soul.

"For starters, I am not that much older than the actress who plays Jane[Maria Schaffel]. I'm 35. More important, I try to bring humor and irony toRochester. If he is all that stoic, and has no sense of lightness, why would Jane fall in love with him? He is not a wall of stone. His biting wit is a form of self-protection. In some ways, he is not unlike the Beast in 'Beautyand the Beast' or Billy in 'Carousel,' two characters I've played."

[He] describes Rochester as "a rebel who doesn't care what others think about him. Yet, he is a highly moral figure. He feels very confined and breaks away in order to feel alive," Barbour asserts. "Rochester is constantly running away--he has no home--and he has a true sense of responsibility."

The problem he faces on a nightly basis in"Jane Eyre," [is] departing from his natural vocal register. "I have a wide vocal range, but I am a bass. This role was written for a tenor, although some of the sections were lowered for me. Still, in the second act, I have four songs [representing a multi-octave stretch] sung practically back toback."

Still, Barbour defines himself as an actor who sings as opposed to a singer who acts and he comes to each role with the actor's sensibility. That is not to say his strategy for each part is the same. "When I played the Beast["Beauty and The Beast"], I approached the character physically--what he moved like, what he looked like. With Rochester, I took a more intellectual tack--his history, his ideals. Then I moved on to what he was about physically--the way he stood and sat. Of course, the period influenced those things as well."

In preparation for the role, Barbour boned up on the era, reading a host of books on Victorian women, aristocracy, social mores, and values. "Victorians of Rochester's class were always aware of what they looked like and the impression they were making. That would be true of Rochester as well. But because he is a rebel in our view, he would deliberately break some of those conventions."


Happy Canadian Thanksgiving everyone!

Actors on playing Mr Rochester...Part Two

Thanks to Thisbeciel again for most of these quotes. I found the second quote for Michael somewhere online, in an interview he did on one of his audio books. The first quote is a caption from a photo in the original Radio Times article on the 1973 Jane Eyre. [These posts on actors has been brought about by some discoveries in the LERO archives, which explains why I'm starting with Mr Rochester rather than Jane, or other great characters from the Brontës' novels].

Michael Jayston:

Michael Jayston, who plays Rochester, in front of Norton Conyers, near Ripon; it may have been the model for Thornfield Hall.'I'd love to live in a place like this. It's much easier to imagine a fire burning in Renishaw, which we actually used for the filming. There there would be no escape; here you could jump out of even the top windows. Rochester is all women's ideal of a man; arrogant yet strangely vulnerable.'

Thanks to his acclaimed ABC recordings, Michael Jayston is often associated with the Cold War spy thrillers of John Le Carre, yet at heart the man is a romantic. Ask him to name his favourite TV role and he harks back to Mr Rochester in an early version of Jane Eyre because ‘the character had wit, brooding sensitivity, and a romantic quality’.

Ciaran Hinds:

QUESTION: Uh, how did you feel about being offered the role? Rochester was one of the most romantic men of all fiction. How did you feel about being offered the role?

CIARAN HINDS: Well, I don't know if I was delighted or not... because when you're offered one of these parts and because they are very well-known from literature, then you have the responsibility of doing it. And, I thought, because I'm Irish, I wondered why they were offering an Irishman a job to play a quintessential sort of arrogant, chauvinistic Englishman. But obviously, I have some of that quality in me. (Laughs) No, because he's quite a complex character as well apart from that and somewhere inside his psyche his soul has been deeply hurt, but it manifests itself in different ways, like moodiness and different mood swings. Well, I thought, "Yeah, I'll give it a lash."

QUESTION: You play this ... the character is this gruff, robust person that is kind of soul searching, restless. What do you think he's looking for?

CIARAN HINDS: I don't think he quite knows himself because this marriage that he had, that he was tricked into without being told by the family that the woman that he married had a history of insanity, and indeed the family did, and he hasn't abandoned her, but he's taken her and he's hired doctors for her and all kinds of alternative methods of trying to ... and he brings her all the way from Jamaica back to England and keeps her in the room with somebody to look after her, but he's hurt and very, very angry, very, very angry that he's been tricked like this. But he also then traveled to Europe and had affairs, and then he'd fallen in love again and that's been thwarted. That's where Adele, the ward that he looks after, comes into the story. But the reason that he's prepared to commit bigamy, as he says, he's prepared to go to jail, only for the fact that he is suddenly deeply involved and in love with Jane, is to make her happy.

ETA: Also, thanks to M from BrontëBlog for providing me with a link to more information on Richard Lebensen, whose illustrations can be found in yesterday's post.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Actors on playing Mr Rochester...Part One.

Thanks are due to thisbeciel, and biedroneczka!

William Hurt:

“I had read the book a long time ago, and when the project was first mooted, I went back to the book and was blown away by it. The more I delved, the more inspired I became by it. It is a great work of art and it has been a privilege to spend time with it,” says William Hurt.

“Rochester is a wonderful character; he rises out a great romantic figure with tremendous energy and power. Of course I have to throw away everything that is not useful in realizing the work – other people’s reputations, their vision, don’t have to be mine. I can’t think of him as a hero, I have to let the structure of the work do that. I can only think of him as a human being or I give myself added pressure if I see him as a famous role with a lot of expectations riding on the piece. As an actor I have to put those expectations aside and look at him freshly: he is very much at the centre of many conflicting loyalties; he is compelled and repelled, and he is really at the crossroads of many different forces. The fact that other actors have played him is not important: roles are made to be played by different actors. What frightens me is what Charlotte Brontë might think of me as Rochester!”

Timothy Dalton:

"I think why it worked so well was because, in truth, it's such a good part. What a blow to the image! Rochester is tough and hard, short-tempered and curt on the one hand, and concealing a soul that's been hurt and made sensitive. So you have a lot of the qualities that really appeal to women in Rochester, and I was simply lucky enough to be playing him.

"When I play another kind of character that is not so pleasant I get just a trickle of letters. Some women who've seen several things I've done write in to tell me when I've done something right, and when I've done something wrong, along the lines of 'I wish you wouldn't do this kind of thing. I much preferred you as Heathcliff. Why don't you do more things like that?'

"The fact is, we've all got to work; we have all got to do the parts that are offered to us, whether they turn out ultimately to be good or bad. In America they would largely agree with my correspondents: if you find an image that works, then stick with it. So there's some sense in that; maybe I should play Rochester for the rest of my life!

"There's got to be a bit of yourself in it. I don't think you can be a good actor unless you reveal something of yourself. You're revealing a character through the knowledge you have of yourself and the life around you. Yes, I can see certain elements of myself in Rochester... Of course, Rochester was no fisherman, while fishing is my obsession."

Next time... Michael Jayston and Ciaran Hinds.

Richard Lebensen Illustrations

At the request of thisbeciel I am posting a few of the illustrations from my copy of Jane Eyre from 1980, Reader's Digest. They're by Richard Lebensen and are quite lovely.

The gypsy.

The proposal.


Please don't repost these images without crediting the artist (and a nod to me would be nice, but mostly don't forget Mr. Lebensen!).

ETA: In addition, I've found an old blog entry from a blog called 'literary death match' where people vote on which author or character in a pair is the best. Alas, poor Mr Darcy... Mr Rochester completely annihilated him 11-4. A very shocking loss for Emily, Charlotte won 7-2 with one undecided and one angry Anne supporter abstaining (pun not intended). To be fair to Emily, quite a few people were torn (metaphorically speaking...).

Friday, October 07, 2005

Jane Eyre the Musical "busts out".

I don't normally post twice in one day but I should help spead the word on all of the upcoming performances of JE. Info is courtesy of "Mrs.Dionysius O'Gall" and the Jane Eyre: The Musical Forum.

"From the MTI site: :

Highlights of some forthcoming productions: : :
: ABILENE, TX US From 2/16/2006
: Until 3/4/2006

: INDIANAPOLIS, IN US From 3/2/2006
: Until 3/4/2006

: TOPEKA, KS US From 11/10/2005
: Until 11/19/2005

: OAKDALE, NY US From 10/7/2005
: Until 10/23/2005

: CANTON, OH US From 11/8/2005
: Until 11/19/2005

: MEDIA, PA US From 11/4/2005
: Until 11/19/2005

: DUBLIN, VA US From 2/24/2006
: Until 3/4/2006

: QUINCY, FL US From 2/24/2006
: Until 3/5/2006

: RIVERVIEW, FL US From 12/8/2005
: Until 12/17/2005

: COLLEGE PARK, MD US From 10/13/2005
: Until 10/22/2005"

Links to where to buy tickets for the U of Maryland performances are available at the bottom on the previous post.

The quest for grad programs continues...

I have spoken to 4 professors about grad school programs. So far, the consensus is that I should apply to Toronto. Other schools include McGill, Concordia, and Queen's. Finding the right one for Bronte studies in particular is very difficult. It is very encouraging for them to recomend me to these top schools but I don't feel that they would be right for me. One of my advisors has told me that my project of studying the Jane Eyre musical as an intertext would not be appreciated at Toronto and that I should come up with something else. This bothers me for a few reasons. I've read criticism which points out that there are gaps in the criticism of adaptations of Jane Eyre--in particular there are none which take visuals, and music into account (in the case of film). With my background in all of the arts, and with my enthusiasm for this story and for the theatre I know that I could really take control of this issue and run with it. I have the proof too. I sat down one day to see just how far I could push it, and I came up with 8 pages of notes just on Bertha. Only last week BronteBlog reported that a new book of Jane Eyre stage adaptations from the Victorian period is being published soon. Surely music theatre is fair game for study as well?

But, what to do? I don't want to abandon the work I've already done, and choosing something else might lead to less satisfactory results but would increase my chances of getting to grad school in the first place--in theory. It's all so confusing.

This explains my relative silence over the last few days. I've been trying to sort this all out!But I do have a little announcement to make, thanks to a friend I have Stateside. The musical that is the source of my woes is opening next week at UMCP! I will be posting a link as soon as I can find one (I also hope someone will be able to see it and report back to me in full! *hint*).

ETA: The theatre department. Where to get tickets. Thanks to my secret informant, "Shrew." By the way, I think the poster is adorable.

Monday, October 03, 2005

This is a pun.

Next she bore the Kyklopes with over-proud heart,
Brontes and Steropes and hard-hearted Arges,
who gave Zeus thunder and made the lightning-bolt.
They were like the gods in everything else,
but a single eye was in the middle of their foreheads;
they were given the name Kyklopes because
one round eye was in their foreheads;
strength, force, and skill were in their works. (Theog. 139-146)

This is a distracting bit of Hesiod. But note: strength, force, and skill were in their works. Apt, yes? ;)

As usual, very interesting stuff on the wire and at BronteBlog including another DVD release of Wuthering Heights! I'm not sure how widely known this is, but in my circle it has been much talked of... We expect that the BBC production of Jane Eyre, the beloved version with Sorcha Cusack and Michael Jayston, will be released sometime next year. Alisa from L.E.R.O. first got wind of this after emailing Eureka Video. However, there has been much confusion on this. Even though the news has been verified independently, Eureka and the BBC can't seem to decide who is actuallying releasing it--the BBC say Eureka, Eureka says the BBC. So long as it can be in my hands sometime in the near future, I really do not care. I'm one of the lucky ones. I didn't know about it until this year and I was able to get a recording made from someone's 30 year old copies (thank God for PBS and the CBC!). I have not had to wait 30 years like quite a few fans I know.

I know that from the news on BronteBlog it looks like new adaptations are not forthcoming but I can't say that I agree. The trend seems to be that a Bronte film is made at least once a decade. I believe there has only been one decade or so when this didn't hold true, and in many cases there are a lot of films made in that space of time. Our last one was 1997 I think... I someone has written a screenplay of Villette! Ah! Now wouldn't that be tremendous?! [apparently it had been done by the BBC but I haven't yet been able to find out if copies of it still exist or if it has been lost].

I also have an idea. I'm considering posting some of illustrations I've been hoarding over the past year. I collect antique books, and illustrated copies of Jane Eyre. I have quite a few, but friends have simply... piled them on me. I cannot keep up! I have books still to scan (I'm an obsessive compiler, I think ;). I had intended this to be an illustrated blog (see Mr. Bulwer-Lytton in Petticoats below) but I don't often have the energy to make a sketch a day on top of everything else. Anyone horrified at the idea? Here's a random picture--the cover of the 1857 play.