Bronteana: Bronte Studies Blog Archives

May 5, 2006


Filed under: Bronteana,Drama,Fun,Jane Eyre,Media,Reviews,Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 12:22 am

Brontë News

Jane Eyre is playing London: "Jane Eyre'' plays from May 9 through July 9 at Trafalgar Studios. Tel. (44) (870) 060-6632 or click

'Bookslut' has another review of The Brontë Project: A Novel of Passion, Desire, and Good PR.

This is probably a better idea than encouraging your children to write fictional thank you letters for fictional gifts of Jane Eyre: a mother-daughter book club!

The Chocolate War, The Outsiders, and The Secret Life of Bees are novels written by contemporary writers, but the group has tackled classics that include A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Jane Eyre, as well.

"It's not hard to read a book each month," said Katie [aged 11], "but Jane Eyre was so long."

Author Sara Paretsky talks about her attraction to a certain breed of heroine: Women like Jo March of "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott and the title characters of "Anne of Green Gables" by Lucy Maud Montgomery and Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre"
"Heroines who engage me had to suffer before they succeeded," said Paretsky.

And lastly, Yorkshire has the dubious destinction of being #4 on a list of places to avoid visiting
Lovely scenery, but there are people in the West Riding who have lived there since 1106 but are still not accepted as true Yorkshiremen because rumour has it that their mother bought clogs from a pedlar who had a cousin in Prestbury, thereby blighting the bloodline forever. They make Londoners look like Hawaiian greeter girls. Plus you can't stray within 50 miles of Haworth sodding Parsonage without being assailed on all sides by Bronte bilge. The Branwell Tea Shoppe. The Helen Burns Sunbed Centre. Mr Rochester Opticians. Grace Moon Loft Conversions. What a load of Wuthering Shite.

I cannot but laugh at the thought: who the deuce is 'Grace Moon'? They… did at least inadvertently promote two other places associated with the Brontës: The Peak District, home to at least one of the halls said to have inspired Charlotte's description of Thornfield, not to mention the location for now two version of Jane Eyre. Also, the Mourne Mountains, in Northern Ireland. Visible from Patrick Brontë's birthplace. So, it's not all so bad? …

ETA: These this a better link for the London Jane Eyre production:

Adapted and Directed by Polly Tealefrom the novel by Charlotte Bronte. Jane Eyre is poor, plain and unloved. But locked up in the attic of her imagination lives a woman so passionate and so full of longing she must be guarded night and day for fear of the havoc she would wreck. Who is this woman who threatens to destroy Janes's orderly world? A world where Jane has, for the first time, fallen in love.

Last seen in the West End with its award winning play After Mrs Rochester, Shared Experience is one of the country's most successful and inventive theatre companies, making a long awaited return to London with its heartbreaking, utterly compelling and unique interpretation of a great novel.

'You feel you are looking into the heart of Bronte herself' The Times
'Brilliant. A big, stormy play' Sunday Times
'Keeps making me cry in the street. Startling intelligence, passion and humour.' Daily Telegraph

April 28, 2006


Jane Eyre's 'Southwest Premiere'

It has actually played Texas several times by now, however, people are determined that each show is a premiere nowadays! The Irving Lyric Stage, Irving Texas is presenting the Gordon/Caird musical starting today. Here is what the founding producer of the company has to say about his early impressions of the work:

The book of this musical was written by John Caird, co-director/adapter of the Broadway smash LES MISERABLES. Lyric Stage's Founding Producer Steven Jones first saw JANE EYRE during its Toronto run in 1996. “I loved it. I was in Toronto to see the pre-Broadway engagements of RAGTIME and JANE EYRE. I saw JANE EYRE the first night and RAGTIME the following afternoon. I was so moved by JANE EYRE that I returned to the Royal Alexandra Theatre to see it a second time.” After sold out runs in Toronto and at the La Jolla Playhouse, JANE EYRE opened at Broadway’s Brooks Atkinson Theatre on December 10, 2000 and was nominated for 5 Tony Awards. Lyric Stage’s production will be only the third professional production since its Broadway engagement.

It is nice to know that others besides myself still admire that early version of the show!

Performances dates for JANE EYRE are April 28, 29, May 4, 5, 6, 11, 12 & 13 @ 8:00 PM and April 30, May 7 & 13 @ 2:30 PM. Tickets are $24-$30, with discounts available for students and groups, and are available by calling the box office at 972-252-2787 or CLICK HERE TO ORDER ONLINE. All performances are in the Irving Arts Center’s Dupree Theater, 3333 N. MacArthur Blvd. Irving, Texas, 75062.

April 27, 2006


Digest of Today's Brontë News

Culled from Google News:

In Love with Love:
In a brief historicisation of the Romance novel the Brontës and Jane Austen are lumped together as 'The Gothics.' Characteristics thereof are delinated, while some interesting mental images for those who read this article too carefully provide some amusement.

From Page to Stage:
Humboldt Light Opera Company and College of the Redwoods present the musical drama Jane Eyre, April 28-May 13, at 7:30 p.m., with Sunday matinees on May 7 and 14 at 2 p.m. at the CR Forum Theater. (445-4310.)

More on the above production: A 'Gothic' Love Story. Tickets are $12 for general seating and $9 for students and seniors. (Image above is from this article).

A very odd nostalgic moment indeed, for a news article on violent crime: TODAY'S NOSTALGIA: On April 27, 1961, CBS' Family Classics aired a live production of Jane Eyre, starring Sally Ann Howes, Zachary Scott and Fritz Weaver. (*makes note to track this one down*)

Lucy Ellman's got a vulgar way of retelling Jane Eyre for her book 'Doctors and Nurses.' Read at your own risk.

Chris Rankin talks about his role as Edgar Linton in Wuthering Heights (near the end of the article): Wuthering Heights runs at The Capitol in Horsham from Thursday May 4 to Saturday May 6 at 7.30pm (plus Saturday matin?e, 2.30pm). Tickets start from £15 (concessions available). For more information, call the box office on 01403 750220 or visit the website at

From an article on a play based on Ray Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451:
Here’s Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights,” and there’s Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” – and is that Aristotle? The Book People have memorized books by heart with the hope of restoring them once out of these dangerous times.

Now how many out there think they could manage memorising one of the Brontë novels? Let me rephrase that… How many of you have memorised them?

And, a remarkably short yet informative life of Emily Brontë from the Navhind Times, India.

April 26, 2006


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!


April 5, 2006


Filed under: Drama,Jane Eyre,Reviews,Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 11:49 pm

"I don't remember that"

To quote Charlotte in a letter wherein she remarks that she doesn't remember Mr Rochester being repulsive. I thought of this immediately after reading this recent review of Polly Teale's Jane Eyre:

"A memory unsoiled is an exquisite treasure," muses the intolerable Mr Rochester of his "poor and obscure" Jane Eyre.

I am puzzled by other things in this review:

Unable to escape from the horrors of her own miserable childhood, Bronte's heroine finds herself reliving her nightmares as an adult when she finds herself back living in a house with a secret attic room sullied by tormented cries of madness and drawing rooms dominated by stern men. Clinging to her faith and somewhat limited education, she works tirelessly to bury her innermost desires and elude her she-devil alter ego.

I obviously have not seen this production but I think I am becoming very weary of this treatment of the story. I really do not find the concept innovative. I might say I find it hackneyed, in fact. Scarcely three adaptations of the novel do not turn the story into something far darker and tormented than it reads- with all of its humour and wit. After viewing nearly a century of such adaptations, I'm truly weary of it. And I'm tired of hearing that Jane is emotionally repressed when she is one of the most expressive heroines of literature. She struggles with convention, she does not surrender to it- the poor dear.

Need I add that Jane Eyre has been used as a template for cheap, awful Romance novels for… who knows how many years? And that they tend to follow the same trend of oppressing the young woman, and turning the man into something formidable and stern- even sadistic? In fact, minus mad-woman alter-ego, the template sounds… exactly like this description of the play. (A professor I studied with affirms that there actually is a template which authors of these 'novels' use. A sort of 'quick-e-plot' which is a horridly bastardised version of Jane Eyre).

There is nothing that appears out-dated or immaterial. Who would have thought stiff corsets, ringlets, breeches and proper Queen's English (albeit spoken with a Yorkshire drawl) could sit so comfortably in today's society of iPods and PSPs? Shared Experience proves that they do.

'Stiff corsets, ringlets, breeches and proper Queen's English' are things that I have never thought typified the work. But it's a snappy ending to the article… I also don't know what a PSP is, so who am I to say?

January 5, 2006


Jane's Journey Part 4, and More News on JE '06?

And now we have James Barbour's interview from the November 6th episode of Broadway Beat 2000. A special thanks to 'English' and Kathey for helping me date this piece.

James Barbour (Mr Rochester): I had read the novel three times- the third time just before I went to do La Jolla, and that time with Rochester in mind. And I just realized at that point that- I mean, I've done roles like Billy Bigalow and The Beast. Billy Bigalow is a multidimentional role and he's always on all the time. The difference is this man has probably thirty more layers than Billy Bigalow does. And once I got in production, once we got in rehearsal I realised how- I mean, he's delicious! And that's what I gravitated to but it's the darkness, the happiness, the torture, the love, the unrequited love, I mean just unbelievable levels. And trying to make them all fit into one character was the challenge- and it still is the challenge. That's what I enjoy about it.

Next time, Mary Stout (Mrs Fairfax)!

For more on James Barbour and Rochester, see the post entitled Actors on Playing Mr Rochester Part 3.

Next, mysticgypsy informs me that she has recieved word from the BBC Drama webteam that there are no plans to produce either 'Jane Eyre' or 'Villette' anytime soon. This is no cause for alarm, I think. My friends discovered that the BBC was planning on releasing the 1973 production after months of hearing that they had no plans to.

January 1, 2006


The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1968)

I stumbled across this film adaptation while trying to find more information on the 1970 production of Villette. It turned out haply that Bryan Marshall, the actor who played Dr. Graham Bretton in Villette, also played Gilbert Markham in this 1968 production of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall! He is also well known as Captain Wentworth from the earliest available BBC production of Persuasion by Jane Austen- and he was in Vanity Fair.

Director: Peter Sasdy

Writer: Christopher Fry

Producer: David Conroy

Janet Munro…. Helen Graham

Jeremy Burring…. Arthur

Nicola Davies…. Esther Hargreaves

William Gaunt…. Lawrence

Bryan Marshall…. Gilbert Markham

Corin Redgrave…. Huntingdon

October 16, 2005


Filed under: Drama,villette — by bronteana @ 10:26 am

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:

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.

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