There is a reason why Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen's most beloved novel, is so popular - it is every woman's fantasy. In the character of Elizabeth Bennet, Austen has created a heroine that most women understand. She is intelligent, good-humoured, outspoken and independent, and someone who refuses to be subdued by the demands of society or the need to find a husband. Yet Elizabeth secures the affections of the man of her dreams anyway, falling in love with the handsome and ever-alluring Mr. Darcy.
"Just the words ‘Mr. Darcy' can make most women swoon," says TWU Theatre chair Angela Konrad, who is co-directing Pride and Prejudice with colleague Aaron Caleb.
"Like many women, Elizabeth is attracted - against her will - to the bad boy. But unlike real-life bad boys, Mr. Darcy is willing to change. Even better, Elizabeth gets him to change by speaking her mind, inspiring strong women everywhere to be themselves."
Austen's characters are complex and human, so actors are keen to portray them on stage. But it's a tricky business taking on a character who is so well known, something Langley's Kaylee Harwood who plays Elizabeth in the TWU production knows all too well.
"Everyone loves Lizzy and everyone knows her so that can be a bit intimidating," she says. "At first, I was distracted by a need to be what others expected. But then I realized that this Elizabeth only lives through me and my job is to bring myself and my understanding to the role."
Other characters such as Mrs. Bennet, Miss Bingley and Mr. Darcy are just as likely to be etched in an audience's memory, either from the novel or one of the film adaptations. While this was a consideration in casting, Konrad is clear that the TWU production stands on its own.
"I joke that this is either a production that can't fail or one that can't succeed," she says.
Konrad acknowledges that it is hard to faithfully present a novel that is so well-known, on a small stage with only 16 actors, in less than three hours.
"Ultimately, the most important, enduring elements are the story and the relationships," she says. "And those are clear and compelling in this stage version, just as they are in the book and in the movies."
Pride and Prejudice, adapted from Austen's novel by James Maxwell and Alan Stanford, plays at Trinity Western University from March 26 - April 5, Wednesday to Saturday at 8 p.m., with Saturday matinees at 2 p.m.
Directed by Jessie award-winning director Angela Konrad and co-directed by Aaron Caleb, the production stars Kaylee Harwood as Elizabeth and John Voth as Mr. Darcy. It also features Jared Bargen, Kyla Ferrier, Thomas Gage, Will Graham, Amanda Hart, Cameron Hart, Erin Mahoney, Shalyn McCleary, Joshua McFaul, Jordaan Montes, Jennifer Muth, Holly Pillsbury, Robert Steinkamp and Laura Taylor.
Costumes are designed by Naomi Sider, set design is by Aaron Caleb; and lighting is designed by Lora-Lynne Frewing.
For more information and tickets, go to www.twu.ca/theatre or email email@example.com.
Trinity Western University, in Langley, B.C. is an independent Christian liberal arts and sciences university enrolling approximately 4000 students. TWU offers undergraduate degrees in 40 major areas of study ranging from biotechnology, education, nursing, theatre and music, to psychology, communications and biblical studies. TWU's 16 graduate degree programs include counseling psychology, business, theology and leadership, and offers interdisciplinary studies in English, philosophy and history. TWU holds Canada Research Chairs in Biblical Studies, Biotechnology and Interpretation, Religion & Culture.
Last Updated: 2008-04-07