Friday, July 19, 2013

Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility is my favorite novel by Jane Austen, so I was excited to go to an outdoor theater production of it at Burnby Hall Gardens just down the road from us. I told the kids that I'd take anyone who read the book first. Nobody was very interested except for Lillian, who immediately started it. She was about a quarter of the way through it when we saw the play and she's busy finishing it now. It'll be her first time reading a Jane Austen novel. (Insert gleeful clapping here!)

Left to right: servant girl (also played Fanny Dashwood and Mrs. Palmer); Margaret (Lucy Steele); Willoughby (Mr. Palmer); Marianne; Eleanor; Mrs. Dashwood (Mrs. Jennings).

In this production, all of the actors played multiple parts except those who played Eleanor and Marianne. I love seeing actors take on multiple roles in a production. It's fun to see how they highlight the differences between the characters.

Since the play was performed outside, many people brought picnics with them, and some playgoers were very serious about their picnics! We saw several picnic hampers, with real (i.e., not plastic) plates and silverware buckled to the underside of the lid, and plenty of people were drinking out of wine glasses they'd apparently brought from home. During intermission we were delighted to see a group of older people serving themselves ice cream in china bowls. Their wicker picnic hamper must have been a cooler in disguise! And they brought ice cream in it! I'd never think to do that, but maybe I will now!

Since everyone in the audience except us had English accents, it kind of felt like they were part of the play, too. Afterwards, as we were leaving, Lillian and I thanked the actors, who were wonderful and gracious. I said, "It's my favorite Jane Austen!" and "Marianne" said enthusiastically, "Mine, too!" Some of the best plays I've seen have been these traveling troupes and I'm so glad they do it!

Don't feel obligated to watch the video. I just thought I'd put it up for my own future amusement. And for the record, I'm always disappointed with how photos and video represent the real thing. Y'all just have to visit, I guess.

The guy in the hat is Sir John Middleton, and he also played Edward Ferrars.

8 comments:

  1. I love it. The accents are real. No Americans faking it. haha. Can't believe they even have outdoor theater where it rains so much. Does it rain as much as I think?

    Sometimes when the actors get going I have a hard time understanding them! Were you the one who showed me that SNL skit "British Movie?" http://www.hulu.com/watch/215177 (link may not work after a while.) Anyway, I always think about it when watching a British movie and not 'getting' every word. haha

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    1. That's a hilarious skit! I hadn't seen it. There are an amazing number of accents here and some are much harder to understand than others. I'm better at understanding now, but we still occasionally overhear a conversation that sounds like a completely foreign language and yet isn't.

      And yes, it does rain a lot. For a while it rained every day, but not for very long. The publicity for the play said something like "We will continue in any but the worst weather." These past few weeks have been nearly non-stop sunny and hot, and everyone is telling us how unusual it is.

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  2. PS Good for Lily! Has she discovered that the reading gets easier to understand as you go?

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    1. I don't know if she's experienced that yet, but I've told her! Many of the classics she's read so far have been for school, so she's often read for only the required amount of time and kept reading other things in the meantime. I think the flow of older texts will only get easier if she's reading it a lot. She has been reading Sense & Sensibility more quickly than she's read other classics, so that's good. She also started Emma after watching the movie, but I think she's going to finish S&S first.

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  3. Lillian read an AUstin book !!!! YAAA!!!!! I have tried and tried getting Amirah or Khalil to read Austin but no takers. The closest I got was they both read the Zombie spoof of an Austin book.

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    1. I wouldn't think the zombie version would be that great if you hadn't read the original. Did they like it? Also, I had to explain to my kids what the deal was with marriage back then. It helps a lot if they understand how people courted at that time, how social class and money fit in, and especially how important it was for a woman to marry well, since she could not own property and there weren't really any respectable ways for her to earn money.

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  4. Ahhh! So fantastic! That's so great Lillian is reading Austen. What a wonderful place to start.

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