Jane Austen Classic Emma for Melville Stage

Jane Austen Classic Emma for Melville Stage

A TIMELESS love story from one of the most widely-read writers of all time comes to the Melville Theatre (WA) stage from May 4, 2012.

Jane Austen's Emma is a beautiful and clever young woman who prides herself on her matchmaking ability – but while she’s preoccupied with romance, she’s clueless to her own feelings of love.

When Emma takes on a young friend as her latest project, her well-intentioned efforts misfire, leading to a whirlwind of complications.

Director Vanessa Jensen has adapted the script for stage herself, based on the original 1815 novel.

“I am a Jane Austen fan, and have been for years,” she said. “I directed Pride and Prejudice at Melville Theatre and wanted to direct Emma next – but I struggled to find a version of Emma I liked.

“They were all modernised and changed and the lyrical beauty of Austen’s words were often lost with the propriety and manners hidden.

“I asked myself what I was looking for and the answer was ‘the novel on the stage’, so I set out to dramatise it.

“Changes had to be made to accommodate theatrical conventions and to keep the show to a reasonable length but the tone, style and many of the words are straight from the pages of the novel.”

For those not familiar with the story, Jensen calls it “a Regency romantic comedy full of lively characters, humour and romance”.

Emma is a story of manners, misunderstandings, match-making and marriage,” she said.

“Jane Austen said, ‘I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like’ so bringing Emma to life in a way that makes her liked while retaining the social commentary Austen is famous for was always going to be difficult.”

Jensen wrote, directed, stage managed and acted in various shows at Curtin University’s Hayman Theatre over a four-year period and has staged several successful productions at the Old Mill and Melville Theatres, including The Venetian Twins, Three Tall Women, Pride and Prejudice, Away, Amadeus and her own award-winning script Jamie’s Chooks

She believes her main challenge with Emma is finding the right balance.

“Emma needs to be meddling, blind to the actions and meanings of others, pampered and occasionally unthinking and hurtful, for the story to work,” Jensen said.

“But she must also be charming, pretty, witty and full of life because the audience always needs to love the leading lady when it’s a romantic comedy.

“There is also the problem of competing with pre-conceived ideas of Emma and Mr Knightley, courtesy of Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam in the 1996 film version.”

Season: May 4 to 19. Bookings: 9330 4565 or melville.theatre.company@gmail.com.

Emma is also an officially registered fundraising supporter for the National Breast Cancer Foundation with Melville Theatre donating $2 from every ticket sold, as well as raffle proceeds and any donations collected.

Melville Theatre is on the corner of Stock Road and Canning Highway, Palmyra.


Images: (top) Emma (Tess Perich) has a tantalising tale to tell Harriet Smith (Kaitlin Shawcross). (lower) Despite her own attempts at matchmaking, Emma (Tess Perich) is clueless to her own feelings of love in the presence of Mr Knightley (Matthew Lister).

More Reading

Community Theatre Seasons 2012 - www.stagewhispers.com.au/community-theatre/community-theatre-seasons-2012

More Community Theatre - www.stagewhispers.com.au/community-theatre

Subscribe to our E-Newsletter, buy our latest print edition or find a Performing Arts book at Book Nook.