A Novel New Project – an Update

Last time, I talked a little covertly about my ongoing project – it was still very much in superdraft phase, filled with errors and miles too long, and I didn’t honestly see it going anywhere.

Now it seems, it has LIFE.

I left you last time with the knowledge that I was in talks for a read through – which took place, with numerous wonderful people taking time out to read all 4 hours or so (not in one go…) of my work in progress. Some of them were familiar with the story, others not so much.

But I now have the utter delight to announce that we’re going to make it! So I suppose I’d best be less secretive with what it is. Starting production shortly, White Cobra Theatre will present Pride and Prejudice, adapted for radio by yours truly. It’s cast, and what a cast it is, and they’re raring to go. EXCITING TIMES. Oh, and I’m directing it too.

Photo by Elaine Howlin on Unsplash

The read through itself was great; it really hammered home to me which parts worked and which didn’t – and which bits that I’d already cut I missed too much to leave out. That said, each time I revisit it (note to self: stop doing that) I find something else that I wish I’d kept in. Damn you Jane Austen for being so bloody brilliant…

We’ve compiled a truly stellar cast – it was difficult to have to turn so many brilliant people away – and we have started rehearsals. White Cobra are known for the quality of their productions – just have a look at some of the free offerings the group have put together on YouTube during the various lockdowns of the last year.

Perhaps the thing I have realised most while putting this script together is that I’m 1000% a tinkerer and there is no way I’m going to say I’m 100% happy with the script perhaps ever. I need someone alongside me, a producer, co-writer, director – whatever – to stop me from mucking about with it once I say it is done. I printed a copy off today so I can make notes as we rehearse, and I’ve noticed a few things I want to change just as I’ve glanced at it (stop it, Rebecca…)

So why Pride and Prejudice? It’s been done to death, right? No. It has not. And why do I know that? Because I’ve never seen or heard it done the way I read it in my head that first time, back in Year 10 at school *cough* twenty *cough* years ago. Before I’d seen Colin Firth prancing around in a wet shirt (not coming out of the lake… cause he doesn’t… don’t believe me? Watch it again…), and before I’d become irrationally angry at the 2005 film verion (don’t.)

Whether this is the production that does that is yet to be discovered, but I’m hoping that we manage to achieve the emphasis on the very human aspects of Austen’s characters – the way they make mistakes and are rewarded for amending them always stands out to me. That goes for all her stories, not just Pride and Prejudice. There is a tendancy, and I’ve waxed lyrical about this before, for performers to treat certain works of literature, or plays, with a level of reverance that does them a disservice. Austen isn’t meant to be spoken like poetry, it is simply people talking. Elizabeth Bennet is sarcastic and sassy, Lydia rabbles on like any contemporary teenager, Miss Bingley is snobbish and jealous, Mr Darcy is socially awkward dialed up to 11 but has a good sense of humour when he feels at ease to use it.

I’m equal parts excited and nervous but and hopefully it wont be too long before it sees the light of day!

Watch this space.

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