Earlier on this year, I got the opportunity to perform scenes from Pride and Prejudice at Jane Austen’s House Museum – and get paid for it! It was a fantastic day, that was only dampened by us not being able to perform outside because of the weather. But it was amazing seeing the queues going out of the education centre and how cramped the audience members would be just to watch. Some of this might have been to do with the fact that the Jane Austen House Museum was named one of the places to visit on Easter Monday in two national newspapers!
The scenes we performed were two conversations between Charlotte Lucas and Elizabeth Bennet after the Meryton Assembly, what I like to call the “taking a turn about the room” scene – where Caroline Bingley and Elizabeth walk up and down trying to get Darcy’s attention, and finally, two conversations between Darcy and Elizabeth after their engagement. There were only 3 actors, so the scenes were edited from the book by our wonderful director Isabel Snowdon, to include less. I played both Charlotte Lucas and Caroline Bingley, and in doing so gained a new respect and affection for both characters. Playing Charlotte particularly, made me realise how funny and clever she is, and I really understood her decision in marry Mr Collins much more from what she says. In particular, this quote stood out:
“Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance. If the dispositions of the parties are ever so well know or ever so similar before-hand, it does not advance their felicity in the slightest. They always grow sufficiently unlike each other afterwards to have their share of vexation; and it is better to know as little about the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life”
Saying it as Charlotte, really made me understand her better. Playing Caroline Bingley on the other hand – well – playing the b*tch is always fun, isn’t it?