Bronteana: Bronte Studies Blog Archives

April 26, 2006

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Filed under: Audio Clips,Charlotte Bronte,Downloads,Drama,Jane Eyre,Radio — by bronteana @ 5:09 pm

BBC Jane Eyre in 5 parts

Back by popular demand, here are all three parts of the BBC's radio production of Jane Eyre. I do not know when it was produced but I have a feeling it is from the 1950s. This is only a guess. The production features Meg Wynn Owen (aka Megwynn Owen) as Jane Eyre, and Patrick Allen as Mr Rochester. I will say that if this production had been a film rather than an audio recording it would doubtless be one of the contenders for 'best adaptation.' In fact, this production has as astonishing St. John Rivers. Finally, an actor who takes St. John seriously enough to make him a real threat. You truly believe that he could murder Jane and not receive one stain of guilt on his 'crystal conscience'!

The strange omission is that this version actually omits Helen Burns entirely! Otherwise, it is a faithful, moving, and thoughtful adaptation. And, yes, Jane and Rochester are extremely well portrayed as well!

1: http://download.yousendit.com/4405B29B3D313B47
2: http://download.yousendit.com/EC2BBDF307A2FB52
3: http://download.yousendit.com/333276AE45E2C053
4: http://download.yousendit.com/FBC7B38B76B5BCE2
5: http://s61.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=3SHKETUYVNE2I2O64WQ8QFFTRI

April 18, 2006

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Filed under: Audio Clips,BBC,Jane Eyre,Media,Radio,The Literary Misfits — by bronteana @ 10:40 pm

The Case of the Scream in the Night

After waiting the 4 hours it took for my computer to download this, the first episode of BBC Northern Ireland's Literary Misfits, I have a few thoughts. There will be spoilers so I will get to the links first, and if anyone would like to continue reading they may.

You can listen online here or download the episode as a wmp (made by Thisbeciel) here: The Case of the Scream in the Night

So, this was very amusing. It was amusing for a lot of reasons. I suppose the first thing is hearing Jane Eyre played by an Irishman. It was strange, and it was also a nice change (because of the northern accent). The premise is that Jane decides to go to Sherlock Holmes for some help before she marries Mr Rochester. Hilarity (at least in my view) ensues as Mr.Watson begins to fall in love with this small creature 'who looked like a small animal.' The show gets progressively silly to the point where I burst into laughter when Mr Rochester finally shows up. But I'm getting ahead of myself… We do learn some very interesting things about the Rochesters. Sherlock has deduced that Old Rochester made his fortune from sugar plantations and that Thornfield is not aged by any means but a new building placed upon the barn… he can tell all of this because Jane had two lumps of sugar in her tea- quite incongruous with 'the masocistic governess class' etc. No, indeed, this is indicative of the sugar addiction which the residents of Thornfield suffer from, sugar being the source of their wealth.

There was also a lengthy digression about Northern Ireland which was amusing for its own sake, considering that this is a BBC Northern Ireland production. However, if I may pick up my sleuth hat for a moment, I see a problem with Mr.Holmes' conclusions. Firstly, Mr.Bronte was not from county Antrim, but from county Down. But more significantly, while he is so tied up with detailing how Rochester has disappeared to drug and smuggle his wife out of the country, he doesn't notice something very odd about Rochester when he meets him. Yes, something very odd indeed (I mean, apart from the hysterical ravings from Watson that Rochester has massive legs like oak trees and is able to hide a large dog in his coat). My dear Holmes, your Mr Rochester is not Mr Rochester at all! It is all elementary:

Before Jane's visit to Baker Street to investigate the strange scream from the attic, Mr Rochester- who admitted to Jane that he had heard it as well- mysteriously vanishes. Jane's fears drive her to seek help. In the meantime, Heathcliff has taken his chance to become a respected member of the landed class and ambrushes Mr Rochester while he is out raking swaths, and steals his identity (listen carefully to his description. It doesn't match Mr Rochester in the least but it does sound an awful lot like Heathcliff). Oh, his dog steals Pilot's identity too. And, uhm, Mr Rochester looses his memory and becomes a Literature professor in Belgium; he has never liked being an idle gentleman, loves allusions and wordplay, and as a result of his injuries has forgotten his first language and now speaks only his second- French. Pilot is adopted by Lanseer who paints a lot of Newfoundland Dog pictures, making the breed famous.

That is what really happened! But Holmes obviously hasn't read WH

March 30, 2006

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Librivox Villette

LibriVox– "acoustical liberation of books in the public domain." The site publishes audio books in the public domain, recorded by volunteers. Thanks to Heather, a co-ordinator for writing in to tell us about Villette, the first collaborative LibriVox Bronte work. There are no finished Bronte works yet although Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights are being recited by two people attempting solo recordings. Most pressingly, under 20% of the chapters are claimed as of yet and they still need volunteers to recite chapters.

Aw, no Vanity Fair? … Well, I do think that book just might kill anyone attempting a solo recitation.

A friend of mine has a similar project on hand. Very slow productions of Shakespeare, which each part recorded separately online and then pasted together. It is very very slow work. And, I myself have a project which, from the start, was doomed to never actually be done- to put together a similar performance of Jane Eyre: The Musical. The trouble (…one of the troubles) is that all of my friends willing to entertain the idea are young ladies, so our Rochester is a soprano and I'm playing St.John Rivers (I am likewise a soprano, but this isn't quite so bad in St.John's case. No, really, some of his demo songs are very high! It's creepy…). It doesn't matter that I have dark hair and dark eyes, but I do burst out laughing at inappropriate times. Very out of charater.It will never, ever, ever be recorded (although I do have one clip of our (Miss) Rochester singing 'As Good As You').

February 9, 2006

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'Devotion'

This film, a loosely termed 'biopic' of the lives of the Brontës was filmed in 1946 and starred Ida Lupino as Emily Brontë, Paul Henreid as AB Nicholls, and Olivia de Havilland as Charlotte Brontë.

Thisbeciel calls it: 'A universe where everybody loves Charlotte and everybody loves that sexy man AB Nicholls.' Here is a synopsis of the film:

In the early 1800s, sisters Charlotte and Anne Brontë prepare to leave their sister Emily, their brother Branwell and their aunt and vicar father to work as governesses. Charlotte and Anne want to experience life outside their home as preparation for their careers as writers. Branwell is a talented, temperamental painter who is coddled by his sister Emily, and Charlotte and Anne plan to give the money they earn as governesses to him, so that he can go to London to study art. One night while Bran is getting drunk at a local tavern, Arthur Nicholls, his father's new curate, arrives. Bran insists that Arthur accompany him to the vicarage. At first Arthur refuses, believing that it is too late in the evening, but then, seeing how drunk Bran is, accompanies him. Emily answers the door and mistakes Arthur for one of Bran's drunken friends. The following day, after Bran leaves for London, Arthur reappears. After he is greeted by the unwelcoming Mr. Brontë, Emily's mistake is cleared up and she and Arthur become friends. One day, Emily shows Arthur a lonely house, which has inspired her novel, Wuthering Heights. After some time passes, disillusioned Bran returns home, blaming his sisters for his failure as an artist. Charlotte and Anne also return home. At a dance at the neighbouring Thornton house, Arthur is struck by Charlotte's beauty. When Charlotte realizes that Emily is interested in Arthur, she becomes interested as well…

Thanks to Biedroneczka, I bring you a Lux Radio Theater radio adaptation of 'Devotion' starring Virginia Bruce (the platinum blond starlet who played Jane Eyre in the first talkie of the 1930s) as Charlotte Brontë and Vincent Price as AB Nicholls!

Devotion

The production will be available for download for a week.

January 29, 2006

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Filed under: Audio Clips,Downloads,Music,Music Theatre,Wuthering Heights — by bronteana @ 9:46 pm

Wuthering Heights by Bernard Taylor

This found me by way of Thisbeciel and Biedroneczka. This is yet another musical. Most of the tracks can be downloaded from Mr.Taylor's website, but there is also a CD which I think includes another 15 songs. I am hoping to coax someone into writing a review for Bronteana. For now, I have some initial reactions to register.

Here is a brief intro to the work:

Taylor's musical was the first stage adaptation of the story to be given the approval of the Brontë Society. The concept album was released by Silva Screen records in 1992, and opera star Lesley Garrett also used two of the songs for one of her best-selling solo albums.A 1994 amateur performance in the Netherlands was very successful and generated discussions for possible other productions. It has been running in repertoire in Poland since 1996 and Rumania since 1997. It debuted in Australia in 1998.

The show requires a minimum cast of about 15, but can be expanded to include a chorus of 20 or more. Orchestrations are available for a pit orchestra of 12.

This is the second music theatre adaptation of Wuthering Heights that I have come in contact with. I thought, and still do think, that the novel has a lot of potential for both opera and music theatre. Both of these work best when the emotions stretch beyond the imaginative levels of experience to the mythic. This is why characters in music theatre break into song. But the first version of Wuthering Heights that I heard so failed to reflect the mythic level of WH that it left the whole thing as something of a farce. Heathcliff was far too vulnerable and …well, nice. The music was melodious but lacked depth. I should return to it, because I have only heard some very small selections but these impressions have stuck over repetitions.This production from 1990 is a different story. I am quite impressed with the sensitivity of the score in particular. On the first listen, I was troubled by some of the lyrics but even then I realised that I was simply biased against the very idea of Heathcliff singing. When I got passed that, on a second and third listen, I heard the Arabic rhythms of his theme. I came to think that IF Heathcliff were to sing, he would sing like this. The exclaimations of 'Cathy!' that troubled me before now seem to rumble in the underscore and force their way through into the melody.

Besides this, the songs are beautiful in their own right. In the Prelude there is beauty and a sadness lurking behind it. I get the impression of beginning a celebration and a tragedy. I think this is fitting.

Two of the songs I've gone over are: Cathy! and I See a Change in You.

In addition to Wuthering Heights, Mr Taylor has adapted several other works of literature to music theatre- with equal sensitivity! He has adapted Pride and Prejudice, which captures the period so nicely in its score. The lyrics also are quite good but there's something… off. I think it is his weakest adaptation of those I have listened to so far. He has also adapted Much Ado About Nothing, which I have to admit is delightful. Again, he has managed to encorporate the scales and rhythms popular in the Renaissance into this work. I will take the liberty of recomending Benedick's song on hearing of Beatrice's passion: Madness, performed by Paul McGann as Benedick.

The work has also been the subject of discussion in the journal formerly known as 'Bronte Society Transactions' but now known as 'Bronte Studies.' Mark Seaward, editor of B.S.T. said of the work: "Bernard J. Taylor’s work marks the first time that the true spirit and drama of Emily Brontë’s masterpiece has been captured in a musical." Taken from this page, also on Mr.Taylor's site.

Critics on Wuthering Heights by Bernard Taylor:

"Bernard J. Taylor's big, sweepingly romantic score sustains a feeling of dark passion entirely appropriate for an adaptation of Emily Bronte's novel concerning the ill-fated love between Cathy and Heathcliff." – Show Music Magazine, USA, Summer, 1992.

"This is what stage music should be – passionate, powerful, melodic . . . If you buy only one album this year, make it this one – Mike Gibb, Masquerade Magazine.

"Every number, whether vocal or instrumental, packs the kind of emotional punch that musical performers and audiences cry out for." – Sarah Hopkins, Beneath the Mask, Summer 1994 issue.
"Something to shiver about!" – House & Garden (British edition), March 1992.

December 19, 2005

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La Jolla Jane Eyre

Happy Holidays to all! Just in time for Christmas, and thanks to Lillie, Santa's special Jewish helper, I bring you one of my favourite recordings of the Jane Eyre musical. Well, disc one so far. There are two in all. This comes from roughly half-way through it's professional growing pains and just before the Broadway version (confused?). Just enjoy it. It has come to my attention that this has been for sale on ebay recently. My personal feelings on selling these unofficial recordings is that it's not on. I think if they were not professionally released then they should only be shared, as I am doing. It seems only fair, and it helps to spread appreciation for the show. This recording features Marla Schaffel as Jane Eyre and James Barbour as Mr Rochester. The show is substantially different from the earlier Toronto version and the Broadway version, although there are also a lot of material shared between all three. For example, 'The Governess' is a hold over from Toronto, but 'Adele's Opera' is now a spoken scene which continued into Broadway. And lastly, there are parts which are unique only to this recording, such as the song 'Child in the Attic', and the …terrible 'The Chestnut Tree'. One last note, this recording was made from the sound boards so the effects are very loud and sometimes strange to the ear.

As always, these will be available for a week only.

Disc one

track 1
track 2
track 3
track 4
track 5
track 6
track 7
track 8
track 9
track 10
track 11
track 12
track 13
track 14
track 15
track 16
track 17
track 18
track 19
track 20
track 21
track 22
track 23

December 16, 2005

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Filed under: Audio Clips,BBC,Downloads,Jane Eyre,Media,Radio — by bronteana @ 12:52 pm

Another Audio Adaptation of Jane Eyre

Yes, I am still here. I have not had a minute to do any transcribing since my last post but I will soon have all the free time I can handle, certainly more than you can shake a stick at if you'd want to try doing something like that. It's finals time, the holidays, and time for the family business to go bankrupt. But the Brontës go on.

Here, for example, is what has been termed 'anything but a decent adaptation' of Jane Eyre, brought to you by Biedroneczka from LERO, who has also provided us with at least two or three other audio adaptations! This time we have Sophie Thompson as Jane Eyre, and Ciaran Hinds as Mr Rochester. I did listen to part one of this when it aired on the BBC. It was awful indeed, but as for the rest, I cannot say. 😉 I think I heard once that this production predates Mr. Hinds' stint as Mr Rochester in the A&E adaptation. I am bound to express myself… I think his portrayal is terrible but I cannot tell how much blame goes to the director. There is a scene where he actually drags Jane down the stairs after he tries to blame her for the whole thing ("I was prepared to committ bigamy for you because I knew that marriage was important to you!"). Notwithstanding, he still seems to strut and shout his way through nearly all of his scenes without much variation. He reminds me of the kind of Mr Rochester Charlotte feared she might see on the stage, actually. All grimaces and strutting.

Jane Eyre with Sophie Thompson and Ciaran Hinds

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four

As always, these will only be available for about a week. I wish I had a copy of their adaptation of Shirley. That one really made me laugh. In fact, I couldn't help writing a parody of each installment! The accent of Mr Moore was very amusing.

October 1, 2005

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Limited time offer!

Firstly, I would like to draw your attention to the addition to our links list of http://bronteblog.blogspot.com which is always posting astonishing news about everything from new publications to moon craters! Check it out.

Since this is a student blog, part academic enquiry, part personal testament, I should note that yesterday I took the first step towards my dream of Brontë studies. The professor I studied the Brontës with has agreed to help edit my program of study. I have a comprehensive project already laid out, and this I sent to her yesterday while I put together something which will adequately show my range of interests without seeming diffuse… I’m interested in an awful lot of areas: religion, intertexts, construction of gender, folklore, classics, arts (as in painting, needlework, singing etc in literary texts)–and a lot more… Blindness and poetic creation, and prophecy as well… One small step for me, speaking of moon craters 😉 I hope this will lead to something ‘Brontëful’ as a friend of mine says.

The ‘limited time offer’ is two radio adaptations of Jane Eyre which have turned up amongst my friends at L.E.R.O. (League of the Extraordinarily Rochester Obsessed). They can be found here, for a very short time (less than a week now). There’s Loretta Young and Orson Welles:http://s18.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=3U3VY42CB2Y2A3O2UG1ELMBVF1 and Patricia Elliot and Arnold Moss (a CBS Radio Mystery Theatre production)http://s5.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=1Z0WE2ABKWXFG2L3UYX4S530CZ
I have only heard the beginning of the second one so far. It sounds very interesting–the introduction claims that the story is interesting because Charlotte ‘hardly ever left her house’ and goes on to mention Branwell being the model for characters in his sisters’ novels! Thisbeciel, who shared this with me after biedroneczka was kind enough to post them for us, says that there’s a lot of “excessive scary dramatic music.

Jane: "I am going to go for a walk" (DA DA DUM!!!!)
Mr. Rochester: "Let's go into the garden" (DA DA DUM!!!!!)”

And apparently Bertha sounds exactly like a dinosaur. I guess that explains the strange noise at the start. It sounded very like a tyrannosaurus rex. Poor Mr Rochester, things just get worse for that man.

Speaking of adaptations of Jane Eyre, Bronteblog informs us that a new version of the 1970 film with Susannah York and George C. Scott is due for release. This is a good thing, in my opinion, only because it probably will fix that gap which appears in one of the scenes between Jane and Rochester. There’s obviously a scene missing in the current release. And yet, this is the only version that I loathe… And I’ve tried to overcome this, but I can hardly bear watching it. Jane really seems to be a broken down woman with no self-respect, to want to be with a man like Scott’s Mr Rochester. I managed to get my Brontëphobic mom to see it, and she and I ended up laughing through the second half (after the infamous: “Have you ever been to an asylum, Jane?… Jane?” *everyone has left*) He’s about as witty as something that isn’t witty at all, with such gems as “life’s an idiot” which even confuses Blanche. So there you go… And St. John is more moved by Jane’s piano playing than Mr Rochester is in the entire film.

More news! (I’m trying to catch up on some things I’ve simply not had the time to report on here). A few months ago, now, I participated in a “literary role playing game”. The idea sounded absolutely awful, so of course I gave it a try. The concept is all of the famous authors of history born before 1900 are reincarnated in the present and are all going to same high school! It’s a lot more fun than it sounds. Reading the different journals had me laughing for hours. Chaucer does rap now, and doesn’t seem to get on well with Marlowe… Anyway, I created a journal for Anne. And it has gone well, although by a cruel twist of fate the people playing Charlotte and Emily have been too busy to keep up theirs. Emily exited in style by, uhm, …going on a trip with T.E. Lawrence on his time machine. Charlotte just slipped away while no one was paying attention (I hear Jane Austen had been trying to get her to go out with Alexander Pope). Anne is doing well, made a few friends including Wordsworth and P.G. Wodehouse. I’m glad to say that there was a lot of joy when she turned up, and that people not in the game have been following her (limited) adventures so far.

As an aside, has anyone else noted how common ‘huzzah!’ is nowadays? How in the world did that happen?… Or is it just me?

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