What's the Jane Austen News this week?Harry Potter Actor Calls For Black Mr Darcy In an exclusive interview for Metro.co.uk, actor Alfred Enoch, who is perhaps best known for his role as Dean Thomas in the Harry Potter film series, has said that there is still a lack of diversity seen in today’s stage productions, and especially in productions of Shakespeare. But it’s not just the decline in the number of black performers in the main casts of Shakespeare productions that he wants to be addressed. He’d also like to see more iconic figures from other classic stories and plays being portrayed by black and minority ethnic actors. Specifically he’d like to see a black Mr Darcy.
We need black and minority ethnic actors in non-racially specific roles that normally go to white actors. We need to get to where in a piece of storytelling race doesn’t matter. We need to explore different perspectives. How many times have we seen a black Mr Darcy? The vital thing is flexibility – why shouldn’t there be a black Darcy? is it really going to grind things to a halt if there is?
Austen Beats Dickens on Stage? According to americantheatre.org, Austen was the second most-produced literary figure on the stages of Theatre Communications Group member theatres in the 2015-16 season, with 14 productions of works based on her novels. Previously Dickens has regularly been a feature of theatres during the holidays, but now it seems Austen adaptations are beginning to take over what had previously been largely his territory. TheatreWorks artistic director Robert Kelley has one theory as to why Austen might be doing so well on stage.
It is all public domain, so anybody that has got a chance at it, they’re writing for it. It is a fun challenge, whether it is Austen or anybody else, to condense a novel into a two-and-a-half-hour stage production.He added that:
Austen has these incredible characters that are so rich and engaging. There are only six novels put together, but it really is a treasure trove of characters.Whatever the reason for the rise in stage adaptations of Austen is (and we can come up with plenty of reasons why her work is a theatrical must-see), we just hope it continues!
Andrei Bolkonsky Better Than Mr Darcy! We couldn't believe it when we came across the article in What's On TV this week that listed TV's "hottest historical hunks". Mr Darcy surely ought to be top of the list, but no, his place has been taken by James Norton as the gallant Andrei Bolkonsky in the recent BBC adaptation of War and Peace. This knocked Colin Firth's 1995 Mr Darcy down to second place! Also on the list were; Aidan Turner as Poldark, Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Henry VIII in The Tudors, Tom Hardy as Heathcliff in the 2009 production of Wuthering Heights, Toby Stephens as Mr Rochester, Douglas Booth as Pip in Great Expectations, Ioan Gruffudd as Hornblower, and Rufus Sewell as Will Ladislaw in Middlemarch. Happily for Persuasion fans, Rupert Penry-Jones as Captain Wentworth from the 2010 ITV production also made the top ten. We're sure a list of ten is not enough though, and that there are many more historical heartthrobs who ought to have a mention!
Wearing Your Love of Austen on your Nails This is one for fans of manicures and nail art. This week we came across one Etsy seller who has designed a range of nail decals that are Austen themed! The full sheet comes with decals of Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet, bonnets and top hats, Jane Austen silhouettes and signatures, and teacups. How wonderful is that! (We were also quite impressed with these William Shakespeare nail decals too!)
Is Jane To Be Saved From Education Overhaul in Aus? The Board of Studies in New South Wales is overhauling the curriculum for Higher School Certificate students. One of the main aims of the restructuring of the English courses is to stop the tradition of comparing classic texts to modern adaptations and replace it with a focus on a single text at a time. Mr Alegounarias, President of the Board of Studies, said that he wanted students to have the freedom to focus on what makes a “quality text.”
That may vary from book to book; if it's the subtlety and wit of Jane Austen, then that should be the focusSo, although there will be a restructuring of the English course, at the Jane Austen News we are hopeful that at least one of Jane Austen’s novels will stay on the syllabus.
Success for Jane Austen Festival at Louisville Louisville in Kentucky recently held their 8th Jane Austen Festival and we’re pleased to report that it was a wonderful success. The focus of the festival this year was Emma, since it has been 200 years since the novels first publication. Held on a real 1790s Georgian farm it had the atmospheric location all sorted and that, along with Regency shows, attendants in traditional dress, and a range of workshops, helped to encourage visitors and make it the largest Jane Austen event in North America. We at the Jane Austen News wish the organisers all our best as they start thinking about plans for next year!
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