Remy Bumppo Presents Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey
Aug 28, 2013
n an age when sparkly vampires and hairy heartthrobs are not far from the minds of most teenagers, Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey comes as a knowing nod and a humorous twist to the romantic gothic fantasy.
Remy Bumppo will be kicking off its 17th season with the U.S. Premiere of Tim Luscombe's new adaptation, which British Theatre Guide says "preserves all the wit and charm of the original."
"I've never gotten to do anything like it," says director Joanie Schultz (The Whale). Not an early Austenite, Schultz says it has been "amazing, even life-changing to discover Jane Austen. Her books are so witty, her attitudes so feminist for the society in which she lived."
"Northanger struck me as incredibly theatrical," says Luscombe. He says the most difficult problem when adapting Austen's works is that the novels rely so much on revelations of what a character, especially the heroine, is thinking. In the case of Northanger, heroine Catherine's thoughts tend to be vivid images inspired by The Mysteries of Udolpho, one of the Gothic novels she loves to read. This allowed creation of scenes full of color and action, even while dealing with introspection.
Schultz calls heroine Catherine a typical teenager, who today would be as much influenced by current forms of popular culture as she is by books. "She shows this hope we have that love can persevere, make us better and change our lives," says Schultz, who praises Luscombe's adaptation as outstanding. "He has been most true to Jane Austen, while making the play dramatic and stageworthy."
Catherine Morland (Sarah Price), a 17-year old voracious reader, embarks on her first real adventure on a holiday to Bath, supervised by the colorful Mrs. Allen (Artistic Associate Annabel Armour). At one of the many enchanting balls they attend, she meets charming but mysterious Henry Tilney (Artistic Associate Greg Matthew Anderson), who whisks her off her feet and onward, to the menacing and thrilling Northanger Abbey, under the sinister eye of his father General Tilney (John Lister). There, to the delight of the audience, Catherine's gothic fantasies come all-too-much to life.
Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey will be performed October 2 through November 10 at the Greenhouse Theater Center at 2257 N. Lincoln in Chicago. Single tickets and season subscriptions are on sale now at www.remybumppo.org or by calling the Greenhouse at 773-404-7336.
Tess Golden is Stage Manager for Northanger Abbey. The set is by Jacqueline and Richard Penrod, costumes by Rachel Lambert, lights by Heather Gilbert, sound design by Thomas Dixon, and properties by Jesse Gaffney.
Remy Bumppo's annual kick-off event, the Season Salon, will be held at the Greenhouse Theater Center Monday, September 9. Chicago Public Media's Alison Cuddy will moderate discussions about the season's shows - Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, J.B. Priestley's An Inspector Calls, and Tadeusz Slobodzianek's Our Class - with experts on matters pertaining to the plays. (RSVP to the Salon at Events at www.remybumppo.org, $15 donation requested at the door.)
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