A Pride and Prejudice Director’s Note from Lisa Channer

I’m not sure how I avoided her for so long but until Park Square artistic director Flordelino sent me Kate Hamill’s adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, I had never cracked a Jane Austen book. Ever. Not even Pride and Prejudice. I did not know what I was missing all those years! Her portrayals of family dynamics, gender, marriage and class through witty recognizable characters makes her not only entertaining but timeless and feminist.

That this play is funny is undeniable, but it is the desperate stakes of their world that roots all the humor and sets the context in which these characters play out their decisions. With no brothers to inherit the family home the Bennet women face the prospect of poverty, homelessness and desperation if they can’t “win” husbands. But also, for a woman in Regency era England, marriage meant “civil death” in which she ceases to be a separate human being with individual autonomous rights. Tough choice. Poverty or Erasure? And lest we congratulate our modern world too quickly, as recently as 1972 my own mother was unable to apply for a bank account in her own name without a husband’s signature and we still do not have an Equal Rights Amendment. And so Jane Austen remains current.

As I laugh at these brilliant characters in the hands of these talented actors, I am reminded of the great 17th century French playwright Molière. Like Molière, Austen is a genius of comedic social commentary, pointing out preposterous
social rules with a pen as sharp as a knife.

-Lisa Channer, director of Pride and Prejudice

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