Published 200 years ago this month, Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" may not be everyone's cup of genteel English tea. But it remains a staple of academic curriculums and is regularly adapted for film and television worldwide.
Perhaps you read it in high school, flipped by one of the adaptations on cable, or even made the 2005 big-screen retelling starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen a date-night destination. (The 1940 movie featuring Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier airs on TCM at 9:45 a.m. Monday, Oct. 7.)
Chances are, however, that you have not taken in a live staging of the Austen classic. Sacramento Theatre Company Executive Producing Director Michael Laun hopes to change that this October, what Laun has dubbed "Jane Austen Month."
The centerpiece of this celebration is Joseph Hanreddy and J.R. Sullivan's stage adaptation – which opens on the STC Mainstage Saturday, Oct. 5, and continues through Oct. 27.
"We have a cast of 16 very talented actors," said Laun. "We have a strong team of designers, artists and technicians who have created a wonderful environment in which to present this play. We are confident our patrons will enjoy attending this production as much as we have enjoyed bringing it to Sacramento."
Directed by Michael Stevenson, the show's cast is made up of such well-known Sacramento-based actors as Brittni Barger (Elizabeth Bennet), Ryan Snyder (Mr. Darcy), Matt K. Miller (Mr. Bennet), Jamie Jones (Mrs. Bennet), John Lamb (Mr. Collins) and Kristine David (Caroline Bingley). Also featured are Brent Bianchini, Tara Henry and Blair Leatherwood.
Laun describes the story as a "game of love among the British upper classes."
"The play deals with the expectations placed on women in the early 1800s," said Laun in a media release. It was an era in which women were expected to marry in order to acquire wealth and status, rather than for love. The story poses the question, "Do the Bennet girls conform, or make their own decisions? And how are they received by the family and the community?"
Also on tap during Jane Austen Month is a series of "interactive experiences" inspired by the novel's early-19th-century setting.
The dates/times and topics of these events are:
- 4:30 p.m., Oct. 5 – A keynote address by Sacramento State University Professor Emeritus David H. Bell. Bell is considered the Sacramento area's leading Austen authority, and will discuss "all things Austen," from her upbringing, to social norms of the era, to how her works impacted society. A question-and-answer session moderated by Laun will follow the lecture.
- 4:30 p.m., Oct. 12 – STC costumer Jessica Minnihan will host "Costume Conversations with Jessica," in which actors featured in STC's production of "Pride and Prejudice" will model the play's period costumes as Minnihan discusses "Regency Dress." Patrons are encouraged to arrive in their own period attire. A prize will be awarded to the ticket holder wearing the "most authentic costume."
- 4:30 p.m., Oct. 19 – Join the cast of characters from STC's "Pride and Prejudice" for an "Afternoon High Tea" service. (Please note that a nominal fee of $10 for food and catering services will apply.)
- 4:30 p.m., Oct. 26 – English Country Dancing was a popular form of entertainment during Austen's time. "Dancing with Mr. Darcy" will provide patrons the oportunity to learn the dances showcased in STC's production from the show's actors.
JUST THE FACTS
WHAT: The Sacramento Theatre Company production of "Pride and Prejudice"
WHEN: Opens Oct. 5 and plays through Oct. 27, with performances set for 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays, 12:30 and 6:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays (approximate running time is two hours and 30 minutes)
WHERE: Sacramento Theatre Company (Mainstage), 1419 H St., Sacramento, Calif.
WHO: Adapted by Joseph Hanreddy and J.R. Sullivan (based on Jane Austen's novel); directed by Michael Stevenson; featuring Brittni Barger, Ryan Snyder, Matt K. Miller, Jamie Jones, John Lamb, Kristine David, Brent Bianchini, Tara Henry, Blair Leatherwood
HOW MUCH: $15-$38
FOR MORE INFO: (916) 443-6722; www.sactheatre.org