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PRIDE & PREJUDICE

A professional Performance by SCU drama students

By Iride Aparicio

Photos by: Marluve Veltze

The Cast of Pride & Prejudice
The Cast of Pride & Prejudice

SANTA CLARA-CA— At a time where many new plays are written without  “Premise,” when their characters lack characterization, and their dialogue is peppered with profanity, it was refreshing to watch, last November 9th, the JOSEPH HANREDDDY and J.R. SULLIVAN's stage adaptation of  PRIDE & PREJUDICE, a  well-structured  play with a strong premise and a  poetic dialogue  perfectly adapted  to each one of the characters.  

Presented by SCU-PRESENTS, at the Louis B. Mayer theatre on campus, and acted  by a group of  young  talented students from the Department of Theatre and Dance at Santa Clara University, the performance on that night can only be described as professional, and the acting, as superb.
 

Based on the novel written by English writer JANE AUSTEN in l813,  PRIDE & PREJUDICE is play, that as the novel, teaches us that since we all have our own pride and prejudices, we need to search for them, within ourselves first, before judging other people.   

The action of the play takes place in Netherfield Park, an imaginary place
in England, but the  plot, constructed by different relevant issues from  the time:  manners, upbringing, morality, education, social classes, and family, gives the audience a complete idea of  how people thought in England,  at the end of the 19th Century,    

The novel and the play are focused on the Bennett family. The husband, Mr. Bennett,  is a bookish witty  man, which at times, seems neglectful of his responsibilities as a father. Mrs. Bennett, his wife, is a woman completely lacking of social graces whose philosophy in life seem to be:  “That is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune,  must be in want of a wife.” So when at the beginning of the play, she hears that Charles Bingley, a very wealthy bachelor, is moving to town with her sister, her first reaction is to demand from her husband to meet him. Her reason? she  is already thinking of marrying rich Bingley with her youngest daughter Lydia.   

She has four more daughters to go: Kitty, who follows whatever Lydia, who is flirtatious and unrestrained does. Elizabeth, the second oldest, who is pretty, intelligent and sometime witty, like her father. Jane, the oldest in the family. who is  talented, plays the piano,  sings, knows how to do needlepoint and is distinguished by her nice attitude and her beauty. The third oldest is Mary, intelligent, very studious, plays the piano and sings very well, like Jane,  but Mary is not pretty like her sister.   

THE BENNET FAMILY. L-R MICHILEEN OBERST  as Mrs. Bennet, NORA WHITING,  as Kitty. ABBY RENÉ as Lydia, GABRIELLE DOUGHERTY  as Elizabeth, MADELINE KNUTSON as Jane and KYRA HEENAN  Mary. Sitting down, MICHAEL STANDIFER  as Mr. Bennet,
THE BENNET FAMILY. L-R MICHILEEN OBERST  as Mrs. Bennett, NORA WHITING,  as Kitty. ABBY RENÉ as Lydia, GABRIELLE DOUGHERTY  as Elizabeth, MADELINE KNUTSON as Jane and KYRA HEENAN  Mary. Sitting down, MICHAEL STANDIFER  as Mr. Bennett,

In the play, the “conflict” starts with the arrival of Charles Bingley (KYLE VAN ZANTEN) a very wealthy young bachelor who moves  to the neighborhood with her sister Caroline (MAGGIE WOODS). We meet him at a ball,  the Bennett’s girls attend, when he arrives with his sister and  his  inseparable friend Fitzwilliam Darcy (GAVING MÜLLER) the wealthy owner of his family State of Pemberley in Derbyshire.

Center L-R Fitzwilliam Darcy GAVIN MÜLLER, Caroline Bingley MAGGIE WOODS, and Charles Bingley KYLE VAN ZANTEN
Center L-R Fitzwilliam Darcy GAVIN MÜLLER, Caroline Bingley MAGGIE WOODS, and Charles Bingley KYLE VAN ZANTEN

The action in the drama moves in a series of short verbal clashes between the English social classes, in this case the very rich, and the not so rich. Moving the action is also the internal "conflict" in each character as they struggle to find out what is “right.” and what is “wrong,” for them, and even when not to fall in love while living in a society that separates social classes,  divides people according to their ranks and is nurtures pride, among some,  and prejudice among others.

On that night, the “clashes” between the characters were  acted  convincingly, specially those between Elizabeth, (DOUGHERTY) and Darcy (MÜLLER) whose "enemy" seem to be  their own “interior voice” feeding their minds with their own Prejudices, and blocking their hearts for feeling their true love for each other.

There is also a more subdue and perhaps  more painful “clash” between Bingley (VAN ZANTEN) and Jane (KNUTSON), and a very intense internal  battle in his heart in which he constantly have to fight against the prejudices fed to his brain by the society, and the  passion that was ignited in his heart the moment he saw Jane for the first time.

And there are antagonists in the play, such as Lady Catherine de Bourgh (CLAIRE PARCHEM) and Mr. Wickham (ANDREW ERWIN) that complicate the action at every single turn, and keeps it interesting.

Adding to the over all quality of the production, are the costumes, (BARBARA MURRAY, HEIDI KOBARA ANNE DOBORI), the scene design (JERALD ENOS) and the choreography (CINTHIA BARNES). For the Excellent  British "Accents" we also need to give credit to Dialect Coach. KIMBERLY MOHNE HILL.

Father FREDERICK TOLLINI, S.J.,  Professor of Theatre at Santa Clara University, who selected the production of the JANE AUSTEN ‘s play and co-Directed it with NICHOLAS MANFREDI, tells CULTURAL WORLD BILINGUAL:

“One of the  reason why this play was selected for production, Is that this version of the play enabled me to stress the more serious issue of the play. I do not see this play as the comedy of a woman trying to find profitable husbands for her daughters. What I see, is that  the serious spine of the novel and the play is the process in Elizabeth herself, of coming to realize her own prejudices and her own pride so that both, she and Darcy, undergo an arch of conversion. They (Darcy and Elizabeth)  both come to see that they are both attracted and repelled to each other because they are so similar. They both have a lot to learn. Elizabeth herself comes to realize at the end that she has been very prejudiced and proud, specially with Darcy, and both come to understand that love is more important than a lofty position.”

“A friend of mine is an scholar in 18th century literature, and he gave me the importance of letters (in the novel).  There were novels at that time that were a series of letters, and JANE AUSTEN constructed a spine. She put a character development through letters (in her own novel) and that is the reason that I stressed the idea of letters in the play.’

Elizabeth (GABRIELLE DOUGHERTY sees the Truth reading a letter
Elizabeth (GABRIELLE DOUGHERTY sees the Truth reading a letter

“I wanted to show how letters were so important in that culture, and if one sees the production, it is a letter that forms the main hinge of the play. It is the letter of Darcy which makes Elizabeth realize  her own pride and prejudice. The key line in the play comes when Elizabeth embraces her sister and says: “Until this moment, I did not know myself.”   To me, that is the key of humanism in literature.”