"Confession time": Artistic Director's Notes on Pride and Prejudice

We're less than a week away from Pride and Prejudice, our first mainstage production of our 2018-2019 “Back to Classics” Theatre Season!

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Ken Hildebrandt

Confession time: I’m not a huge Jane Austen fan. As a matter of fact, I find my reaction to Jane Austen to be similar to that of my reaction to Will Farrell: he’s funny, but also extremely annoying. He makes me laugh but he’s also really crude.

Ok, so I’m NOT saying Jane Austen is like Will Farrell – calm down, Austen fans – I’m only saying I have a parallel emotional response to Austen as I do to Farrell. Her language (replicated faithfully in the production you’ll see next week) is quite elevated and melodious, which is lovely, but I have a tough time following what she’s saying.

Her love stories are charming and they warm my heart, but having found little success in my own love life so far, leaves me feeling lonely … or at least a touch cynical.

Her stories cover familiar, relatable experiences that I completely identify with, yet I find them repetitive. I enjoy the dramatic tension that exists in her story situations, but it seems she borrows the same plot points from story to story, making them feel formulaic and predictable (oh, great –another character is sick!).

As I write this, I realize that most stories follow some kind of common story structure, familiar characters, relatable situations, plot regurgitations…my favourite of favourite stories, Star Wars (calm down, Star Trek crazies) borrows on plot points all the time, partly because the saga is like a musical that reprises certain melodies. But that doesn’t stop me from loving the franchise. And when I speak of love, I mean love in all its harmonious, gritty, passionate, begrudging, challenging glory.

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Shannon Tauber as Elizabeth
and Adriel Brandt as Mr. Darcy
Photo by Dianna Lewis Photography

Getting back to Jane Austen…when I read the show again, I found myself smiling at the characters and the situation. I mean, Darcy and Elizabeth are super-entertaining as characters: their attack and parry relationship is humorous, relatable and heart-rending all at the same time.

How many of us haven’t mis-judged someone based on incomplete, gathered by gossip, information? How many of us haven’t allowed pride to get in the way of connection? How many of us haven’t allowed prejudice to stop us from seeing the beauty in another?

Now that I think about it, there’s actually quite a lot of substance to this little story of Pride and Prejudice, isn’t there? I mean, what I just said about some of the themes Austen explores actually fit our mandate like a fine laced party glove. Hmmm.

Oh, you, Jane Austen. I guess I like you a little more than I care to admit. And now I get why you are so beloved by so many. Will Farrel. Pfft. There’s really no comparison.

With tongue firmly in cheek like Austen herself,

Ken Hildebrandt
Executive/Artistic Director