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Pride & Prejudice comes to Canberra

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This June, Budding Theatre is bringing the wit of timeless classic Pride and Prejudice to Canberra.

Anything to do with Jane Austen’s classic tale is sure to be a treat. Whether it’s featuring the handsome Colin Firth or a fierce Kiera Knightley, every single one of Pride and Prejudice’s many renditions has established love around the world for this timeless classic.

We’ve laughed, cried and raged alongside the Bennet sisters as we follow Elizabeth and Jane’s journies, but its the rich background of the story – the struggles of the Bennet sisters’ to find their happiness in the exacting nature of society in the Regency era – that pulls us so strongly toward Pride and Prejudice.

Kirsty Budding, Director of Budding Theatre shares this sentiment, explaining that Pride & Prejudice was an easy choice for Budding Theatre’s winter production.

“Pride and Prejudice is, obviously, iconic, and I could not resist writing an adaptation for the stage and getting the beautiful costumes, the dances and the Regency era music.”

Taking place at Belconnen Theatre from 18 – 22 June, Kirsty says that Pride and Prejudice has managed to remain a relatable and inspiring story thanks to its protagonist, Elizabeth Bennet.

“It’s the kind of novel where it stands for itself, you don’t have to modernise it because it is a quite a progressive piece for its time,” says Kirsty. “I think that the female characters like Elizabeth are iconic because they are strong women and that is just as relevant as today for audiences.”

Caitlin Dalgliesh as Jane Bennet and Rob Shiells as Mr Bingley.

 

Luckily, there were many Canberrans who shared Kirsty’s enthusiasm for Austen’s work. So many, in fact, that Kirsty chose to create two casts – an adult and youth cast – with over 80 performers auditioning in total.

“I had a huge response to the call for auditions and I realised that I could have cast the Bennett daughters several times over, because there are so many young woman in Canberra who are interested in acting and want to be on the stage,” she explains.

Ella Horton as Elizabeth Bennet and Callum Wilson as Mr Darcy.

“So I thought, if I can find a way to give more opportunities then I will. So I decided to have a youth production when women in their late teens could have the opportunity to play these lead roles, and also give other opportunities for younger people as well.”

In addition to this cast of many, special attention has been paid to bring the pomp and circumstance of the Regency era to the stage.

Kirsty says the production team has gone above and beyond to ensure that the language, the dances, the costumes and the music are all a match for the time period.

(L-R) Lydia Milosavljevic as Elizabeth Bennet (Youth Cast) and Ella Horton as Elizabeth Bennet (Adult Cast)

A grand piano and cello will give the story’s beloved dances and balls an authentic feel, while historical dance teachers were brought in to ensure that cast members knew how to recreate the steps perfectly.

But that’s not to say that there won’t be some twists – especially in the younger cast with the formidable Lady Catherine de Bourgh being played by a nine-year-old, and Mr Wickham whipping out a magic trick or two as the actor portraying him happens to be an accomplished magician.

It’s also interesting to consider the weight a director must feel when choosing such an iconic narrative. How did Budding Theatre cope with the pressure of adapting one of the world’s greatest love stories for the stage?

“With the youth production, you’re able to take more creative liberties than you can with the main stage,” explains Kirsty, although she notes that when it comes to Austen’s words, she has stuck closely to the original.

“I wanted a faithful adaptation of the novel because I do admire [it]. I didn’t want to set it in a different time or place or make it really modern.

“I wrote the script myself and I have been very faithfully to the language that [Austen] used, I haven’t changed any of the iconic lines in the novel. I think everyone would kill me if I did.”

the essentials 

What: Budding Theatre Presents Pride & Prejudice
When: 18 – 22 June
Where: Belconnen Theatre,
Tickets: Adults $55 | Concession (child/senior/student) $35
Website: buddingtheatre.com

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