I’ve read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen every year for the last thirteen years. The first time I consumed any version of this classic was through the Keira Knightley film. I fell in love… most ardently. I picked up my first copy of the book and read it cover to cover in about a day. Eventually, I tackled the BBC’s version where Colin Firth climbs out of the lake.
*looks around for a fan*
It wasn’t too long until I stumbled across Lost in Austen, a must for any lover of this grand novel. Swept up in my own sort of Austen hysteria, I let myself indulge once a year in all four. I get lost in the language and the perceived simplicity of life. I’m a romantic at heart (shhh… don’t tell). The passion and exasperation shared through pros brings never-ending pleasure to my soul.
This evening I was most delighted to enjoy the play brought to life by some of my students. I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks. I’ve heard all the gossip about practices and costumes and who has to kiss who. It’s sort of thrilling to watch these young adults fall in love with something so close to my own heart. To see them excited brings a genuine smile to my face.
The casting was pretty incredible. I don’t know that the play would have been the same, had anyone else been cast in the role of, Elizabeth Bennet. This young actress was truly superb. The gal who played Lydia Bennet was so spot on and over the top, I giggled when she delivered her first real lines. She embodied Jena Malone. Mr. Collins is one of my favorite characters to hate. I’m proud to say one of my students carried his conceited, pompous, narrow-minded, silly, obsessed with Lady Catherine de Bourgh self, incredibly well. When I told him as much, I thought he might turn pink forever. Darcy is and will forever be my favorite male lead in any movie, book, etc.. He is complex, both hard and kind, and one of my favorite arcs ever written. It’s subtle. And hard to pin. I think that’s what like about it so much, the subtlety. I’m lucky to say one of my student’s played this part too. I thought he nailed that subtlety. He was gruff with longing and then the change happens when he becomes soft. That moment brought tears to my eyes.
It wasn’t perfect, it’s a high school production after all. But there were so many small victories and moments when I wanted to cheer for them, that it felt perfect. The makeup was stage ready. The costumes were complete, corsets and all. The stage crew, in full costume, interacted seamlessly with the cast, moving the simple sets around behind the actors. It was an intimate audience space, where the world falls to the side and you are invited to be a part of this novel for an evening.
Of course, I started to read the book again this morning in anticipation of this evenings performance. I might even fit in a movie or two this long weekend. I must keep up with tradition after all. I’m shooting for fourteen years this week.