2TimeTheatre publishes Meeting Miss Austen by Cecily O’Neill.
In these three plays, based on Austen’s teenage writings, we hear the voice of the teenage Jane; exuberant, saucy and often surreal in tales of love, loss, vice and victuals: 'The company partook of an elegant entertainment. After which, the bottle being pretty briskly pushed about, the whole party was carried home dead drunk.' (Jack and Alice)
Cecily O’Neill, Artistic Director of 2TimeTheatre, said: “As we approach the anniversary of the death of Jane Austen, I thought it would be fascinating to dramatise some of her earliest writings, and reveal the development of her genius for dialogue, social satire, and wit.”
2TimeTheatre will be staging two performances of Meeting Miss Austen including songs and music as part of the 2017 Winchester Festival at Winchester Discovery Centre on Saturday 8 July 2017 at 8:00pm and Sunday 9 July 2017 3:00pm. Tickets are £10 and £5 for under 18. Box office is on: 01962 857276.
Playwrights know that scripts don’t really come to life until the words are actually spoken aloud. It’s only at that point that it becomes possible to judge the their dramatic effectiveness. When the teenage Jane Austen wrote the novels, plays and other works that make up what is now known as her Juvenilia, she intended them to be passed around and read aloud to amuse her family and friends. She wanted her words to come alive. Everything she wrote between the ages of twelve and seventeen is full of the kind of lively dialogue and vivid characterisation familiar to us from her adult novels, although her plots are farcical and her tone is satirical. It’s not surprising that Pride and Prejudice, Emma and her other great novels have been successfully dramatised many times over.
As far as I could discover, before I adapted three pieces for Young Jane, published in 2016 by 2timetheatre, the Juvenilia had never previously been dramatised for performance. Inspired by the enthusiastic reception of Young Jane, my next project was to adapt several more of the pieces for Meeting Miss Austen. Drunken Alice, lovelorn Tom and the disagreeable and snobbish Lady Greville seemed to demand to come to life on stage.
Two of the pieces I had chosen had been left unfinished. Would it be possible to find a way of completeing them, while remaining true to the anarchic spirit of the teenage Jane? My first task was to find a sympathetic but discriminating audience. I invited a few friends – among them writers, actors and theatre-lovers – to read the pieces for me. Their reactions and comments were extremely helpful and enlightening. They suggested that the character of Lady Greville could be further developed and insisted on the need for a happy ending for Tom and Henrietta in ‘Love Letters’. After making these changes, I enlisted the help of several talented young people from The Discarded Nut Theatre Company. We read the script several times, and I was delighted that the young people seemed very impressed by the teenage Austen’s energy and wit.
The premiere of Meeting Miss Austen will be at the Winchester’s Discovery Centre on July 8th and 9th of July as part of the Winchester Festival.
Hampshire-based publishing and production company 2TimeTheatre is on the look-out for local professional talent to take part in Meeting Miss Austen, which will be presented as part of this year’s Winchester Festival.
Local playwright Cecily O’Neill said: “I’ve taken Jane Austen’s teenage writings and turned them into three lively, comic plays which form the basis of Meeting Miss Austen. Her talent for creating memorable comic characters is already evident and, in this year, the bi-centenary of her death, we are delighted to offer the premiere of Meeting Miss Austen in tribute to her genius.”
Winchester-based director Philip Glassborow said: “Jane Austen’s roots were firmly in Hampshire and we would encourage local professional talent to apply to audition. We are looking for great comic timing, a good singing voice, and an ability to work quickly and effectively as part of an ensemble.”
There are parts for two females aged 20 – 25, two females aged 40 – 60 and two males; one of 50 – 65 and one of 20 – 30. Auditions will take place in May, and the performances will be at Winchester Discovery Centre on 8 & 9 July. If you are interested, live locally, and have relevant and/or recent professional acting experience or training, please apply with CV and recent photo to: firstname.lastname@example.org by 8 May 2017.