In the next three chapters, we get a break from the long, rambling letters. Yay!
Buried in a mass of letters, Elizabeth sits up and sees one from Charlotte. Yay! Then she remembers Charlotte is now Mrs. Collins. Eugh. She opens the letter anyway. Charlotte is inviting her to stay with them. Mmm, okay sure. It's been a while since Liz has had such a deliciously easy target as Collins.
Charlotte's Dad, Sir William Lucas and Charlotte's sister, Maria (Okay Austen, way to introduce another character super late in the game!), join Elizabeth on her journey. On the way, they stop by the Gardiners' house to check in on Jane.
(SO MANY PEOPLE in that last sentence. If you're lost, check out the map here.)
So in case it's all a big blurry mess, Jane went to stay with the Gardiners after Bingley & the Netherfield folk peaced out and left Netherfield for London. She's basically doing a Boy-Detox.
Jane looks okay to Liz, but you never know. She checks with Mrs. Gardiner, and Mrs. G says Jane is okay overall--a little up and down, but that's to be expected. Then Mrs. G brings up Wickham. Liz tells her that he is now pursuing a Miss King...who comes with a For Sale sign and cash.
Mrs. G scolds Wickham for pursuing a girl simply for the sake of money. And I'm going to put on my Super Nerd hat here for a second, because Liz brings up this great Paradox of the time she was living in:
When Wickham was pursuing Liz, Mrs. G was all: Hey! Not Cool! Neither of you guys have money, you can't get married! How imprudent!
Now that Wickham is purusing Miss King, Mrs. G is all: Hey! Not Cool! You shouldn't only pursue a girl because she's rich! How mercenary!
What's a girl to do??????
At the end of this heady conversation, Mrs. G invites Liz on a bit of a nature tour of England after she's visited Charlotte. And Elizabeth gets that amazing line:
"Ah yes! What are men to rocks and mountains?"
Amen sister. Amen.
Liz & Sir William Lucas & Maria arrive at Hunsford, the abode of Collins & Charlotte. Collins makes sure to point out all the awesome things about his house--
--"Check out our hedges! See how tall they are? Man they are SO TALL. What a bummer, Elizabeth, that you don't have hedges like these...and did I point out our rose bushes? I mean, right? They are so awesome--oh, I forgot yours all died last winter, sorry Elizabeth...OH, and look at our awesome shoe rack, I mean, this is NOT an Ikea shoe rack, it is like, REAL WOOD, you could have been putting your shoes on THIS shoe rack EVERY DAY, if you had accepted my proposal, but I'm SURE you're not bummed about that AT ALL--did I mention how pointy our roof is?"--
Subtle, Mr. Collins. Subtle.
Things quiet down, Liz gets to talk to Charlotte alone for a little bit, when suddenly there's a flurry of shouts.
"CHARLOTTE--COME QUICK--OH MY--COME CHARLOTTE--YOU MUST--CHARLOTTE!!!!!!!!!!"
Liz & Charlotte run outside, because obviously you don't shout like that unless something is on fire or dying or drowning...and Collins jumping up and down and pointing at a carriage parked at the end of the road.
"What is it, dear?" says Charlotte.
"ANNE DE BOURGH!!!!!!" shouts Collins who looks like a rabid fan at a concert who maybe just peed his pants a little.
Liz sticks out her hip and is about to look at Charlotte to share one of their famous "Really!?" looks, but before she can do so, Charlotte starts moving excitedly toward the carriage.
Oh no. Has Charlotte converted to Collinsism?
Charlotte seems to be speaking to someone inside the carriage. The conversation ends, the carriage drives off, and Charlotte comes back.
"We've all been invited to dine with Lady Catherine tomorrow evening!"
Collins lets out a sound that's half utter delight and half terror.
Liz cocks an eyebrow. She takes a breath. Okay. Here we go.
The next day the entire crew arrives at Rosings Park, Lady Catherine's giant, intimidating estate. And what a crew. Maria looks like she's about to faint. Collins looks like he's about to pee, from excitement or nervousness, Liz isn't sure. Even Sir William Lucas is slightly green. Charlotte is the only one who looks relatively calm. Good for you, Charlotte, we know who wears the pants in this relationship.
They enter. Collins opens his mouth to speak and Charlotte quickly intercepts that impending train wreck. Charlotte introduces every one. And they sit down to dinner. Lady Catherine rearranges how everyone is sitting, several times.
Musical chairs anyone?
They find seats suitable to her Ladyship. Liz checks out Anne de Bourgh, who, if you'll remember, has technically been engaged to Mr. Darcy since birth. Anne is a tiny little thing, chronically ill, completely silent and miserable. Liz wishes the two of them much happiness...muahaha.
Cue Regency pleasantries.
After dinner they go to drawing room to wait for coffee. Lady Catherine takes stock of the room and delivers her opinion on every subject she can think of with dictatorial decisiveness. Liz thinks Lady Catherine only needs a hairless cat and signature catch phrase to complete her Evil Villain Taking Over The World act.
And then she turns to Elizabeth. She fires questions fatal accuracy. Here is a list of every question Lady Catherine actually poses to Liz, direct from the book. Sometimes Liz gets time to answer, sometimes not:
How many sisters do you have?
Older or younger?
Any of them likely to be married?
Any of them handosme (pretty)?
Are you all educated?
Does your father keep a carriage?
Your mother's maiden name? (WTF??!!)
Do you play and sing?
Do your sisters play and sing?
Why didn't you all learn?
Do you draw?
None of you?
Has your governness left you?
Who taught you?
Who attended to you?
Are any of your younger sisters out?
Your younger sisters must be very young?
What is your age--
"ENOUGH ALREADY, JEEZY PETES, WHAT THE @#$% DO YOU WANT FROM ME???"
Okay, she doesn't really say that. But come on, if YOU had questions fired at you like that, how would YOU react??
Amazingly, Liz manages to channel her frustration with Lady Catherine into a saucy, politically correct response: "With all my younger sisters grown up, you can hardly expect me to own up to my age."
Lady Catherine is astonished. No one has ever broken the Line of Questions before. Who the hell is this girl, anyway? She decides to keep a close eye on this one.
When coffee is over, they play cards, and go.
As they leave, Collins asks: What did you think of Lady Catherine?
Collins: That's okay, I'll tell you what to think!! (Cue long uninteresting ramble...so uninteresting that even Austen didn't write it. She ended the chapter there.)
NEXT WEEK: We meet the Hunky Colonel & Darcy Attempts To Practice Conversation! (one of my favorite scenes!)
Comment below with YOUR reaction if you were questioned in such a way as Lady Catherine questioned Liz!
Just when Lizzie thought she had fully recovered from her gut-wrenching “OMG my best friend is marrying Mr. Rosings-Park-Bow-Down-and-Worship-Lady-Catherine-De-Bourgh Collins” feelings, another bit of unexpected news turned her world on its head. Caroline had thoughtfully sent ANOTHER letter to Jane to let her know that the Bingley crew was all settled in London for the winter.
"He didn’t even say goodbye.” Cue the Jane Bennet lip quiver.
“Let me see that.” Snatching the letter from Jane’s hands, Lizzie quickly scanned the contents: “Sooo, 'Mr. Bingley sends his affection… Miss Georgiana Darcy is the best; we’re super close... I’m more and more convinced that she’s totally going to marry my brother… Annnd Darcy is buying new furniture.' Seriously? Why should you care about Mr. Darcy’s furniture?”
“Furniture is a very important purchase, Lizzie.” Jane not-so-subtly tries to pull herself together.
“Furniture. Uh-huh. I’ll store that pearl of wisdom away for future reference.” Lizzie’s snark elicited no reaction from her sister: bad news. Bad news indeed.
"Jane, are you alright?”
“Of course I’m okay. I’m more than okay. I’m wonderful. Think of all of the heartache and angst Caroline’s letter has saved me. I must have been reading too much into Mr. Bingley’s feelings, but now I have been set straight and life can go back to the way it used to be.”
GAH! Lizzie resisted the urge to physically shake some sense into her sister.
“I’ll look at this in the best possible light. He and his sisters seem to want him to marry Miss Darcy. I was just mistaken. No hard feelings.”
While Mrs. Bennett viewed Jane’s distress as a sign that the world was ending, Mr. Bennett observed the situation with both amusement and concern.
“I’m convinced being crossed in love is good for a body. Lord knows Lydia, Kitty, and Mary have been crossed in love, and now Jane has joined their ranks. When will your time come, Lizzie? There are plenty of officers around. Why don’t you let Wickham be your man? He could jilt you quite beautifully.”
“We cannot all expect Jane’s good fortune. I’d gladly be rejected by someone less amiable than Wickham.”
“Well, in any case, your mother will make the best of it.” Mrs. Bennet wails from the other room, “Or rather, the worst.”
Wickham did seem to be making more appearances in her life, and Lizzie was VERY okay with that. He made the post-Collins/Bingley funk a little more cheerful. The Bennett family bonded with him over a mutual dislike of Darcy, and Wickham shared his misfortunes at Darcy’s hands with the rest of Lizzie’s family. Everyone agreed that Darcy was the worst, with the exception of Jane, who always thought the best of everyone.
To the relief of all, at long last Mr. Collins found it necessary to leave Longbourne to get everything situated for his wedding.
*Cue the universal sigh of relief*
Just as Mr. Collins was leaving, Mrs. Bennet’s brother, Mr. Gardiner and his wife came for their annual Christmas visit.
As usual, Mrs. Gardiner was pressed to explain the latest fashions before settling down to hear the Bennett family’s updates, which she was already familiar with, since Jane and Elizabeth often wrote her letters.
“So, Lizzie. Details on Jangley! How serious was it really?"
“As far as I could tell they were both smitten kittens. That’s what makes Bingley's whole disappearing act so hard on Jane.”
“Poor Jane. It would be better if this had happened to you, Lizzie, for you’d bounce right back. Jane, on the other hand, will need some time to get over him. Do you think she might come back to London with us? A change of scene might do her good.”
Lizzie put on her plotting cap and decided that arrangement would work quite nicely. To Lizzie’s mind, the Bingley crew made it clear that ties were severed, so Jane could simply spend her time in London recovering from her heartbreak.
Operation Jane’s Heart Recovery is GO! Aunt Gardiner made the offer to Jane, who was all over it like a fly on poop.
The remainder of the Christmas holiday was spent keeping the Gardiners engaged, and with the number of times that officers were invited to these events, Mrs. Gardiner couldn’t help noticing that Lizzie was fluttering her eyelashes at Wickham in earnest. Mrs. Gardiner’s mama bear instincts began to kick in, and she decided to look into Wickham to see if he was worthy of her niece’s affection. While he made a good impression, Mrs. Gardiner couldn’t help feeling he was just a little too smooth...
“Lizzie, I know this Wickham fellow is charming as all get-out and I certainly have no objections to him, but you must remember to be careful. You have good sense: make sure you use it."
“That sounds serious.”
“Well, I’m encouraging you to be serious in this.”
“Oooooookay. Wickham will not fall in love with me if I have anything to do with it!”
Mrs. Gardiner rolls her eyes.
“Sorry. Okay, I’m not in love with Wickham, I just feel bad that Mr. Darcy was such a douchebag to him! Now, there are no guarantees that I won’t someday fall for Wickham, but I can promise that I will take things slowly.”
“You may be able to help that process by not inviting him over so often…”
“Auntie, he usually doesn’t visit this much! It’s only because Mama is trying to keep you entertained by hosting so many events. You know her! I do promise I will do what I think is wisest though.”
Hugs all-around for well-received life advice!
Holiday over, the Gardiners soon parted, just in time for Mr. Collins to return, antsy and excited for his wedding, although this time he was staying with the Lucases, thank God!
Regardless, Mrs. Bennett was still miffed that Lizzie had rejected Mr. Collins, and whenever Charlotte and Mr. Collins’s wedding was mentioned, she took to saying:
“I WISH they might be happy,” while sniffing disdainfully, much to Lizzie’s embarrassment.
Lizzie took a far kinder approach, and on the wedding day, Charlotte, grateful for her friend’s support, invited Lizzie to join her father and Maria (Charlotte's sister) to visit Charlotte and Mr. Collins in March. Lizzie, of course, agreed to come, even though it sounded SUPER awkward. But how can you say no to someone on their wedding day?
Then Lizzie’s daily grind was spiced up by ALL OF THE LETTERS!
In a number of weeks, Lizzie got her first letter from Charlotte, which was full of kind praises for her new home.
Shortly after, Lizzie received some letters from Jane. The first simply informed her of Jane’s safe arrival in London. The following letters spoke of Jane’s adventures visiting her acquaintances throughout London. Eventually Jane decided to visit Caroline Bingley.
“She seemed out of spirits, but glad to see me. She said my letters to her informing her that I was in London must have gone astray.”
Lizzie almost choked on her biscuit. She was quite convinced that Jane’s letters “went astray” into Caroline Bingley’s fireplace.
"When I asked about her brother she said he was so engaged with Mr. Darcy that he was seldom seen. It was a quick visit because she was on her way out the door with Mrs. Hurst, and Miss Darcy was coming to dinner that evening. I wish I could have met her.”
Lizzie could well imagine Jane’s sad puppy-dog eyes. Jane waited for the Bingleys to call for four weeks before writing Lizzie yet again.
“You were right, Lizzie. Caroline does not seem to be the dear friend that I supposed her to be. She did return my visit, but she made it clear she wasn’t happy about it.
I’m sure that her brother is the root cause of this though. He knows of my being in town, but Caroline made it sound like he has fallen for Miss Darcy. It seems duplicitous, but I don't want to be judgmental. I will focus on the positives: sunshine, rainbows, bunny rabbits, ribbons, and the love and affection of my aunt, uncle, and you, dear sister.”
In YET ANOTHER LETTER around this same time, Mrs. Gardiner asked for Wickham updates. At this point, Wickham felt rather meh for Lizzie. He had moved on to another young lady with a far greater income than Lizzie could offer.
“I ain’t saying he’s a gold digger, but I feel like her money had a bit to do with his change in affections. In any case, it all happened rather naturally. I don’t think I’ve ever been much in love. I like Wickham. I think he’s nice, but I can’t be angry with him or with Miss King (the lady with cash) for their interest in one another. Kitty and Lydia more than make up for my resignation, but they still have to learn that both handsome and plain men must have something to live on."
NEXT WEEK: Collins Attempts to Make Lizzie Jealous (SPOILER: It doesn't work...), We Meet The GLORIOUS Lady Catherine and Play Musical Chairs!
"Like" us on FB for updates each week, and let us know if you're enjoying the series in the comments below!! Thanks guys!
This week's chapters were written by Kylie Rose, an incredible actress and even more incredible human being. She will be playing "Lydia Bennet" in our upcoming production. Find out more...
So, disaster averted. Lizzie doesn’t have to marry Mr. Collins – she just has to endure her mother’s not-so-subtle whining and Mr. Collins’s resentful silence. All the absurd flattery he had been piling up on Lizzie like a mountain of unwanted Twizzlers gets transferred instantly to Charlotte – and oddly, she doesn’t seem to mind?
So, off they all go to Meryton to find out if the no-show Mr. Wickham has anything to say for himself. And he actually does!
“Yeah,” he says (probably with his gorgeous hair swooshing manfully in the breeze or something, UGH) “I realized I really didn’t want to see Darcy. I just don’t think I could…bear it.” (Stares soulfully away, brooding harder than a glittery vampire.)
When they get back home there’s A LETTER FROM NETHERFIELD.
I repeat: A LETTER FROM NETHERFIELD.
THIS IS NOT A DRILL.
Watching Jane read, Lizzie can tell something’s up. When they get up to their room, Jane tells her what the letter says. Basically:
The Bingley crowd has gone off to join their brother in town.
But actually, NONE of them are coming back this winter.
Could this letter get more shit-tastic? Actually yes, because then comes the worst part:
“OMG Georgiana Darcy is soooooo pretty and elegant and brilliant and perfect and we love her sooooooo much, we all just can’t WAIT to see her, she’s basically like a sister, and actually she probably will be our sister because my brother will definitely fall in love with her and obviously she’ll fall in love with him…so that’s happening. But anyway, hope you have a great Christmas xoxo!”
“Ah well,” says Jane, metaphorically reaching for her tub of Peanut Butter Fudge Core Ben & Jerry’s, “I guess that’s that.”
But Lizzie is calling bullshit on this whole nauseating letter. Bingley totally loves Jane, Caroline is a conniving beyotch, and she’s trying to shove her brother into Georgiana’s arms in hopes it’ll somehow improve her chances with Mr. Darcy (like hell!)
But Jane, spooning ice cream into her mouth, is all: “No, she wouldn’t do that.”
Luckily, Lizzie is the Cheering-up-Jane master. Eventually Jane is willing to admit that MAYBE Bingley will come back before the winter is over and they’ll get their happy ending. Which they totally will because obviously they belong together.
Sisterly mission: accomplished.
Now there’s just the small matter of telling Mrs. Bennet that the Bingley’s have all gone away for a while.
Hoo boy. Shields up.
Okay: Mom Bennet has come down from her freak-out and is now completely certain Mr. Bingley will be back and he and Jane will live happily ever after. Jane is somewhat hopeful. Mr. Collins has been successfully rebuffed.
Whew! Other than Mr. Collins still being around and randomly sneaking out one morning, everything seems to be back to normal.
Oh, hey! It’s Charlotte!
“Lizzie, uh…well…the thing is…I’m marrying Mr. Collins.”
Apparently Mr. Collins snuck out to propose to Charlotte and she actually accepted! Accepted Mr. Collins? WTMother’lovin’F??
But Charlotte explains she really doesn’t care about romance, and at the ripe old age of 27 (which apparently is ANCIENT), she has to get married right quick or she’ll be a huge burden and embarrassment to her family. Since her attitude towards men and marriage is basically, “Meh,” she might as well marry this guy, since he has a pretty sweet house and isn’t too badly off.
Okay, okay. Get a grip on yourself, Lizzie. Swallow the vomit you just threw up in your mouth. Turn your smile on. Friendship dial set to “supporting you even in your stupidest decisions.”
“Wow! Well, that’s great, Charlotte. I mean, you know. If you like…him. Or whatever.”
So now, to visit Charlotte in the future, Lizzie will have to actually lay eyes on Mr. Collins again??
Something not terrible needs to happen, like, now.
Nope. Things just keep getting worse. Because now things between Lizzie and Charlotte are awkward, Mr. Collins is coming back to stay with the Bennets so he can see his bride-to-be (cue disgusting love speeches, GAG), and it turns out Bingley definitely isn’t coming back to Netherfield that winter at all.
Is horrible Caroline actually succeeding in keeping Bingley away from Jane for her own nefarious purposes?? Is the Jane/Bingley ship (Jingley? Bane?) doomed to sink before it even gets out of the harbor????
This week's chapters were written by Peytie McCandless, actress/writer/teacher extraordinaire. She will be playing "Jane Bennet" in our upcoming production. Find out more...
The morning after the Netherfield Ball, Lizzie wakes with a banging headache and foggy recollections of the night before…
What happened last night? (Knock knock) oh my head….Netherfield…right, Netherfield, dresses n stuff, terrible wine, ooooohhhh God the wine, why was I drinking so much wine…( knock, knock) was somebody rapping?? And mum, (knock, knock) mum was, being an arse, and Lydia was being an arse, and Kitty was being an arse, and Wickham was...not there, right, so he’s an arse...and Mary was...singing! (Knock, knock) Dear god the singing...and someone else...who am I forgetting?? (Knock, knock!) Someone was bothering me, (knock) someone kept following me around, (knock) someone kept hitting me on the head, (knock) Jeezy creezy what is that awful sound?? (KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK)
“WHO IS IT don't come in, Ithinkmyheadisexploding…”
“Just your mother dear, breakfast is ready and a Mr. Someone is waiting to speak to you! Hehe!”
Disregarding the fact that her mother just worked “hehe” into everyday conversation, Lizzie manages to put clothing on in (mostly) the right direction and comes downstairs…
...and she remembers who was bothering her last night.
“Good morning dear! Mr. Collins was just saying how he wanted a word with you, I'll just pop out back, Lydia? Kitty? Let's leave Mr. Collins and Lizzie to themselves, hehe!”
Note To Self: The imminent threat of a dreaded proposal is certainly the best hangover cure I’ve seen to date. Sober ya right up.
Lizzie is left to fend off Mr. Collins by herself.
In the book, Collins’ proposal to Lizzie goes on, uninterrupted, for two, full, size 10 font, single-spaced pages, and they are well worth a read if you are studying to deliver the Worst.Proposal.Ever. Luckily we are paraphrasing, and Lizzie is only half listening, so his speech is a little more like this:
“My dear Miss Elizabeth blah blah blah your modesty blah blah blah Lady Catherine blah blah blah you were the first person I wanted to marry as soon as I entered your house (NOT TRUE) blah blah blah My reasons for marrying (oh lord) blah blah blah Lady Catherine blah blah blah And now nothing remains but for me to assure you of the VIOLENCE of my affection (don’t laugh don’t laugh don’t laugh) blah blah blah indifferent to fortune blah blah blah when we are married.”
“Woah, hold up, I haven’t made an answer yet! Wait for it...wait for it...no. My answer is no.”
“But...no means yes, yes?”
“Nope, Mr. Collins, no, believe it or not, actually means NO.”
“A maybe then?”
Elizabeth turns and walks away.
Mrs. B sees Elizabeth exiting the room, and runs in to give congratulations to Mr. Collins on his newly acquired bride. It is a credit to Mr. Collins’ self-deception that he actually agrees with Mrs. B and says, “Thank you! Yeah, we’re totally getting married, I mean, at first she was like, ‘No’, but I mean, that’s just what modest, quiet girls like Elizabeth do, right? He, he, he.”
But Mrs. B is not fooled. She knows her daughter. She leaves Mr. Collins and calls for back-up.
“MR. BENNET!! COME MAKE YOUR DAUGHTER MARRY MR. COLLINS!”
Mr. B comes out. Lizzie comes out. She is flanked on either side by her mother and father.
Dad says: “Your mother tells me that you’ve refused an offer of marriage from Mr. Collins. Is that right?”
Lizzie says: “Yeah.”
Dad says: “Your mother insists that you marry him. Is that right, Mrs. B?”
Mom says: “Yes, or I’ll never see her again.”
And nothing I can paraphrase will top Mr. Bennet’s response:
“An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents.--Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do.”
Lizzie smiles and is free.
Chaos insues. Mrs. B is chasing down Lizzie and trying desperately to change her mind, even attempting to bring Jane into the mix. Mr. Collins can’t figure out why anyone would possibly refuse him as a husband. Lydia and Kitty are giggling like mad. And into this mess enters Charlotte.
All you need to know is that Charlotte and Collins have a pleasant little exchange whilst the Bennets are running about. This will come back later.
HISTORICAL INTERLUDE: So here’s what the big whoop is about this situation. When Mr. Bennet dies, Mr. Collins inherits Longbourne, and he can basically do whatever he wants with it. If he marries one of the Bennet girls, he has an incentive to provide for them. If he doesn’t, he can kick the girls out on the street, and they would have to live off of Mrs. Bennet’s income, which is 200 pounds/year, which by today’s standards would be about $7,000/year. Hardly a liveable income for a mother and five daughters. Thus Mrs. Bennet’s insistence at Lizzie marrying Mr. Collins.
NEXT TIME: Wickham’s Excuse, Bingley Peaces Out, and Collins Finally Gets a ‘Yes!’
Comment if you have any questions about the story, the book, or the history behind it!
During the month of April, I am meeting individually with each actor in the show to talk about the piece, their role in it, and their process. In preparing for these meetings, I've been trying to specify what the world of this play is.
It's not completely in 2016, as there are characters that sound like Austen.
It's not completely in the Regency Era, as there are characters that sound like you and me.
How do you give concrete answers to normal stage questions like, "What year is it? Where are we? What are we wearing? What does the room look like? What are we hearing in this world?" when the play straddles two seemingly very different worlds?
I'm finding that the simplest answer is, you don't.
Instead, I'm looking more closely at the circumstances under which I wrote this piece, and using those to understand why it made sense to me, at that time, to have Lydia screaming "HELLS YEAH!" whilst Mr. Darcy is flipping words around in that confusing, Regency way, "Do not you feel inclined to dance?" And I think it has to do with my curiosity around the way a writers' brain works.
I've never thought of myself as a writer. So in taking on this project, I felt a need to understand how a writer thinks. I was fascinated by the idea that some writers can imagine their characters in a room together and listen to what happens between them. However, this is a terrifying prospect, because in order to do such a thing, an artist has to relinquish control and be okay if the dialogue is initially weird or kind of shitty.
I am not particularly good at relinquishing control or allowing my work to be kind of shitty.
So I tried to keep myself safe by simply copying & pasting dialogue from the novel into a Microsoft Word document. I loved Jane Austen. How could I possibly think that I had anything to add to her brilliance? But if spending hours at a computer copying & pasting Regency dialogue into a Microsoft Word document sounds super boring, tedious and devoid of any creativity, that's because it is.
Something had to change. I mean, the reason I love Jane in the first place is that sometimes she says things in a way that pulls on my solar plexis and makes me go "YES! THAT. I HAVE EXPERIENCED THAT, BUT NEVER KNEW HOW TO EXPRESS IT BEFORE." So how could I provide that opportunity to an audience that, perhaps, is daunted and disconnected from Austen's language?
Elizabeth is already written as a character that stands out in the Regency world. She says what she thinks, a trait that today is still responsible for making people stand out from a crowd. So she became the voice of my frustrations, joys and struggles as a writer.
In our adaptation (I can hardly call it mine anymore, with 25+ folks working to bring it to life), Elizabeth Bennet is a writer. She is writing her story. And initially, much like I did, she tries to take control of it. She brings each additional character to life, almost forcefully, conducting the conversation. But she quickly realizes that her sense of control is false and fleeting, and her characters start to take over. They start to speak to her.
When I stopped trying to push the show in a particular direction, and I started listening, weird (and sometimes shitty!) dialogue started coming out. I couldn't tell you why Darcy needed to be Regency and why Lydia needed to say BTW. But they did.
So here is the world of our play: We are inside a writer's mind.
As you watch the play, you are watching the creative process unfold. Characters sound like us and simultaneously not like us, and that's okay. Elizabeth has a laptop, and that's okay. The Meryton Dance music is rock n' roll, and the Netherfield Ball music is classical, and that's okay. All of it is happening in Elizabeth's mind, where she is trying to make sense of the events happening to her using whatever references make sense to her.
And by the way, this is also why we have so many smaller creations happening all the time, under the umbrella of "The Pride & Prejudice Project." Pride & Paraphrase, #CrazyJane, Darcy Dub, our upcoming live events, these are all part of our journey to let go of control over the creative process, and find those nuggets of gold in this story. You don't get the nuggets without making a lot of weird shit first.
We are exploring the questions:
How do we release control on the creative process?
And what happens when we do?
Thanks for your time. Much love,
What is #Enso4You?
On January 1st of 2016 I set out to create an Enso-a-day for one year. Each Enso is meant to thank a person, place or thing that has inspired me creatively. Every month I check in on this blog to assess the difference this practice is making in my day to day life.
An Enso is a symbol created on an exhale of breath which represents a moment when the mind is free, to let the body create.
They are posted on Instagram, Twitter, and more rarely, Facebook.
What was different this month? What was the same?
I got pretty close to making an enso every day this month, though I'm still not perfect. This month I noticed that I wanted to make ensos out of lots of different things. I kept fearing that I would run out of ideas of things to make ensos out of, but the next morning I would look around me and there was always something new to be found. We never run out of ideas!
What did you notice before, during and after each Enso was created?
The early ensos of this month were plagued by that same thought: What if it's not perfect and nice to look at? But as I continued to be more regular about my practice, this thought started letting go. I started getting excited by the ensos that turned out weird or lopsided.
When I finished the enso, I would look at it and try to see if I could glean anything about the state of my mind by how it formed. Sometimes I thought I could, sometimes I couldn't.
In making the "creative" ensos, ie, not with paint/my Sumi-e Board, I often forgot about the breath. I'd like to work on that. However, I did find that very frequently this month when I was traveling to or from a job, I would take conscious breaths to center myself. Or look for natural ensos formed in the world around me. This had a HUGE effect on the rapid state of my thoughts, and it reminded me to let go of my tight grip on a particular thought.
I'd say overall the month of March was a big step forward in terms of increasing my awareness of my surroundings and my state of mind.
Follow us on Instagram to see what or who all these ensos are dedicated to! (it might be to YOU!)
CREATE YOUR OWN #ENSO4YOU JOURNEY:
Caitlin Lushington is the Co-Artistic Director of the Enso Theatre Ensemble, a teacher, director, and actress. Sometimes she works too hard, sometimes she forgets things, and she strives to put the car keys back in the same place every time. She drinks tea every morning from her TARDIS mug and "Mr. Tea" diffuser. She loves the morning and wishes she had a photographic memory, so she could remember the names of every person she meets.