Giveaway winner Announced for The Annotated Sense and Sensibility

The Annotated Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austenm edited by David M. Shapard (2011)37 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win a copy of The Annotated Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen, edited by David Shapard. The winner drawn at random is Jocelyn who left a comment on May 28th.

Congratulations Jocelyn! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by June 21st, 2011. Shipment is to US and Canadian addresses only.

Thanks to all who left comments in the giveaway, and for all those participating in The Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge. This year we are reading Jane Austen’s first published novel Sense and Sensibility and books inspired by it as well as viewing many of the movies adaptation this year in honor of its 200th anniversary.

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Sense and Sensibility at the Book-It Repertory Theatre in Seattle – A Review

Cast of Book-It Reperatory Theatre's adaptation of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility 2011

“Happy, happy Elinor, you cannot have an idea of what I suffer.”

“Do you call me happy, Marianne? Ah; if you knew! And can you believe me to be so while I see you so wretched!”

– Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 29

Happiness and suffering, and the emotional extremes that cause it, is an important theme in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility that was well served in a new stage adaptation of her novel premiering at the Book-It Repertory Theatre on June 3rd at the Centre House Theatre, Seattle Center. It is the Rep’s fourth Austen novel to stage production after the highly successful Pride and Prejudice in 2004, Persuasion in 2008, and Emma in 2010. Their interpretations of Austen are always brisk, lighthearted and memorable. Jane Austen has been very good to the Rep, and obviously, audiences have felt that the Rep has been likewise to Jane Austen.

Book-It Reperatory Theatre's adaptation of Jane Austen's Sense & Sensibility (2011)Even though Sense and Sensibility is not as light, bright and sparkling as Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice, it may be the most adaptable of her works for the stage. At 200 years old it remains a compelling tale touting a favorable list of dramatic attributes: dual heroines with divergent personalities; three red herring heroes who are really anti-heroes in disguise; and an incredible assortment of unscrupulous and humorous minor characters that add levity and balance to a story that is quite seriously entrenched in 19th century British inheritance laws and the plight of women who were ruled by them. Heady stuff for any playwright to embrace and adapt. Even more so for the lucky audience if they get it right.

The two heroines of this cautionary tale are Elinor (Kjerstine Anderson) and Marianne (Jessica Martin) Dashwood – one with too much sense, and the other with not enough. Each of the sisters reacts differently to their life tragedies and budding romances. Jessica Martin’s Marianne was all pure unbridled emotion: extreme, exuberant, exasperating! Never loving by halves, she gushed about dead leaves, poetry and her beaux Willoughby with a passion leaping into Bronteism.  Marianne also dips into the depths of despair after being thrown-over by her suitor, wearing her down and into a serious illness. We had wished this had been given more attention and that Marianne had not rebounded back to herself with such cheerful alacrity.

Kjerstine Anderson as Elinor Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility at the Book-It Rep (2011)Kjerstine Anderson as the solid, staid and correct sister Elinor was surprisingly regal, imposing and privately snarky – a different interpretation than I had experienced in my reading of the novel, or in any of the movie adaptations. Questioning my previous conclusions, was Austen’s Elinor as introspective, subtle and guarded as I had thought? Anderson did a commendable job as Austen’s anchor of reason and rationality, albeit too emotionally at critical moments. I am uncertain if this change in characteristics was artistic license or by direction, but it altered the divergence in the sisters personalities and lessened some of Austen’s critical plot points.

Aaron Blakely as John Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility at the Book-It  Rep (2011) x 200The three heroes (or anti-heroes): Edward Ferrars (Jason Marr), Col Brandon (David Quicksall) and John Willoughby (Aaron Blakely) were sensitively cast as the affable nerd, the gallant geezer and the charming cad to extreme satisfaction. Austen gave us an interesting assortment of suitors for our heroines. Often we are uncertain who the hero is because of major character flaws that act like red-herrings. In this interpretation (happily) Edward did not stutter, but he was so innocuous we wonder what Elinor saw in him. Really wonder! Marr was more than a bit of a milquetoast, and so was Quicksall as Col. Brandon who barely uttered a line for several scenes (to disconcerting effect) until he finally finds his voice making it all the more moving and admirable. Well done. When Blakely’s Willoughby gallantly arrives  to rescue the injured Marianne in a billowing greatcoat, our expectation of a Byronic hero was totally fulfilled. *swoon* The fact that he looked like a young Jonny Lee Miller did not hurt either. No wonder Marianne lost all sense. Who wouldn’t?  He was equally convincing in relaying his conflicted loyalties of money vs. love.

Jessica Martin and David Quicksall in Sense and Sensibility at the Book-It Rep (2011) The minor characters in Austen’s tale are so endearingly flawed and humorous, supplying the comedy to offset the tragedy. Of note were the scheming and duplicitous Miss Lucy Steele (Angela DiMarco); selfish and manipulative Mrs. Dashwood (Emily Grogan) and her equally unappealing husband Mr. John Dashwood (Shawn Law); gossipy matchmaker Mrs. Jennings (Karen Nelson); and the jovial and obliging Sir John Middleton (Bill Johns). They brought levity to Jen Taylor’s energetic dramatization which at times had its charms and foibles. The narrative faithfully followed Austen’s own right down to some exact quotes. Huzzah! Gone though were Austen’s cynical underpinnings, subtle puns and measured pacing – all replaced by an emphasis on humor and breakneck speed. Scenes quickly altered with the draw of a curtain across the stage taking us from London to the country within seconds. Actors changed costumes by adding layers as they delivered lines on stage. Spoken dialogue shifted to narrative recited directly from the novel in one breath. It was exhausting and exhilarating. Austen encapsulated and accelerated for the modern stage.

We enjoyed every line and every moment, but we were happy to wind down afterwards with a cup of tea and the novel.

Jessica Martin and Kjerstine Anderson in Sense and Sensibility at the Book-It Rep (2011)

Book-It’s Sense and Sensibility runs at the Center House Theater thru June 26th

Photos © Alan Alabastro 2011

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Preview of Sense and Sensibility Stage Play at Book-It Rep in Seattle

Sense and Sensibility at the Book-It Repertory Theatre (2011)

We are very fortunate to have one of the nation’s premiere small theater companies right in our own backyard. For the last 20 years the Book-It Repertory Theater of Seattle has been exclusively adapting written work for the stage. Among the sixty plus world premier adaptations they have presented are stage productions of three Jane Austen novels: Pride and Prejudice (2004), Persuasion (2008) and Emma (2010). Now in honor of the bicentenary of the publication of Jane Austen’s first published novel, Sense and Sensibility will premiere on Friday June 3, 2011 at the Center House Theatre.

In Austen’s first published novel (1811), the Dashwood sisters find that love is an unpredictable struggle against the most important social values: family, honor, and wealth.  As teens, Elinor and Marianne’s family fortunes take a turn when they lose their father, and their welcome in his home, now owned by their half-brother and his overbearing wife. With a move and a few chance meetings, Elinor falls for the intelligent and reserved Edward Ferrars, while Marianne dotes upon the handsome John Willoughby. Through Elinor’s sense and Marianne’s sensibility, this sprightly tale wends along the twisting path of love among the English gentry.

Directed by Makaela Pollock and playscript by Jen Taylor, of all of Jane Austen’s novels, Sense and Sensibility might prove to be the most adapatable. We are all anticipation of its high voltage emotional elements and endearingly flawed characters being brought to the stage. Just the thought of drama-queen Marianne Dashwood emoting in body and spirit sends shivers and chills, and the humor of the Middletons and the Misses Steeles should keep us laughing.

Marianne Dashwood (Jessica Martin) and Elinor Dashwood (Kjerstine Anderson) in Sense and Sensibility at Book-it Rep Seattle (2011)

Marianne (Jessica Martin) & Elinor (Kjerstine Anderson) Dashwood
in Book-It’s Sense and Sensibility

After attending their production of Persuasion in 2008, I am looking forward to experiencing Book-It’s unique style where the actors recite much of the text as it was originally written – but with the added benefit of costuming, lighting and the excitement of a live production. I will be attending on Sunday, June 12 with a group of Janeites so be sure to check back for my review.

  • Sense and Sensibility at the Book-It Repertory Theatre, Seattle
  • May 25 – June 26, 2011
  • Pay-what-you-will previews: May 25, 26, 31
  • Subscriber Preview: June 2
  • Opening Night: Friday, June 3

2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Join Jane Austen Inside Her Novels at the Classroom Salon (via AustenBlog)

Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen (Penguine Classics) 2003Mags at AustenBlog shares news on a new beta website, Classroom Salon for Sense and Sensibility, by Carnegie Mellon University. The first lucky 50 Janeites to sign up get to participate, so make haste if you are interested in this innovative way to learn, share insights and discuss one of Jane Austen’s novels.

Cheers, Laurel Ann

We are pleased to announce that the Gentle Readers of AustenBlog, as well as Janeites everywhere, have been invited to join a discussion of Sense and Sensibility at Classroom Salon, a free discussion platform from Carnegie Mellon University. Using this tool, one may select any section of text, make comments, answer questions, and see and respond to the comments and questions. The Salon team at Carnegie Mellon is starting to post the text of Sense … Read More

via AustenBlog

From Prada to Nada – Jane Austen Goes South of the Border

Mark your calendars Jane Austen fans. From Prada to Nada opens in the US on January 28, 2011. Here is the official movie poster. The story might spark some memories. Two privileged young ladies from Beverly Hills are left penniless after the death of their father and must depend on the kindness of an estranged aunt in East Los Angeles for a new home and social connections. Sound familiar Jane Austen fans? Yep – you guessed it. Shades of Marianne and Elinor Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility. Here’s the official studio synopsis:

It’s a whimsical fish-out-of-water story of two spoiled sisters: Nora (Camilla Belle), a law student, and Mary (Alexa Vega), an undergrad party girl, living with their father in a luxurious mansion in Beverly Hills. Mary has become so “90210” she refuses to admit she is of Mexican descent. When dad suddenly passes away, their posh lives are turned upside down. They discover they have been left penniless and are forced to move into their estranged aunt Aurelia’s (Adriana Barraza) modest but lively home in the Latino-centric Boyle Heights neighborhood of East LA. They are terrified to leave their world of privilege; neither Nora nor Mary speak Spanish or have ever had to take on actual responsibility. The girls gradually adapt to their new environment; their BMW and Prius are traded for the public bus and a used car. As they embrace the culture that for so long they refused to accept, they both discover romance, the true meaning of family, and they learn that the life of PRADA actually means NADA without love, family and community.

Here is the official movie trailer. Directed by Angel Gracia, the cast looks fresh faced and perky. I am really looking forward to seeing it.