"That Mr. Darcy is such a good guy!": Q&A with Pride & Prejudice director, Nicola Prigge!
The first show in our 2018/19 Back to Classics season is one of the most beloved stories of all time: Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Playing November 9–17 at the Abby Arts Centre, this witty and charming adaptation of the classic novel will be a perfect night out for families or a that special someone.
To learn more about the production, we asked director Nicola Prigge to give us some insight into the show!
Tell us about your first encounter with Jane Austen. Have you read her novels? Is this your first time working on a Jane Austen play?
This is my first time working with Jane Austen on stage. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to do so.
Watching the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice with my parents was a Christmas tradition of ours. I have fond memories of my dad leaning back in his chair as the credits rolled with a very satisfied look on his face. "That Mr. Darcy is such a good guy!" he would say. It was a bonding experience for us because Pride and Prejudice is not only a romantic comedy but also a story about family, with a special emphasis on the father-daughter relationship between Lizzie and Mr. Bennet. I have read the book but have to admit to being heavily influenced by the movies due to this Christmas tradition of ours.
Why do you think this story is so beloved? What is it about Pride & Prejudice that keeps people coming back time and time again?
To my knowledge, after Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew," Austen was the first to explore the plot line of two people who can't stand each other at first but eventually end up falling in love. I think this story line is appealing because as we love to see people changing and growing. This is secretly something we all long for: to be able to change for the better. We love seeing people undergoing a massive change of perspective because it inspires us.
Jane Austen also creates such memorable and distinct characters: Mr. Collins, Mrs. Bennet, Mary Bennet...people we don't mind experiencing over and over because they are so unique, and often, so funny.
Lastly, Austen has a timelessness to her work that cuts through the formal language, manners, and dress of the time to reach us today. I am often pleased to encounter questions that are familiar to me in 2018, even though she writes from such a distant time and culture. For example, her work helps me to question the role of women in society, marriage and family dynamics, and gives me the opportunity to laugh at the process of "finding a mate."
Tell us a little bit about the cast. Have we found the perfect Elizabeth and Darcy?
We have a very talented and passionate cast of 17 people involved in the show. Shannon Tauber and Adriel Brandt will be playing Elizabeth and Darcy. Both are experienced, talented, and have great chemistry on stage. I am so looking forward to exploring the journey of these two characters as their hearts open to each other.
I am also looking forward to exploring the many dynamics of the Bennet family, played by an array of talented actors. We already have had some great laughs and discoveries in rehearsal.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Have Gallery 7 audiences seen you onstage before?
I have a bachelors degree in Theatre from Trinity Western University and currently live in Fort Langley. I direct for a nearby children's theatre troupe (Cast and Crew Youth Theatre Society) and also create visual art out of driftwood.
You may have seen me on stage recently as Sister James in Gallery 7's Production of Doubt: A Parable. I also recently directed The Hunchback of Notre Dame: The Musical for Theatre in the Country in Langley.I am passionate about storytelling, teamwork, and the healing power of art. I am thrilled to be working with G7 Theatre again!
Are there any specific scenes or moments that you're looking forward to in the show?
There are so many to choose from, so I will only mention a few. I am looking forward to both ball scenes. We have a choreographer on our team who is working hard to create some lovely Regency era dances for us, as well as a sound designer to find the music for each dance.
I am looking forward to Mr. Collins' proposal to Elizabeth, as well as both of Darcy's proposals. I am looking forward to experiencing the lovable chaos of the Bennet family, including live piano music from the talented Meghan Franklin as Mary Bennet.
What can people expect when the lights go down?
Overall, we are emphasizing simplicity in design in order to enhance efficiency and create a sense of uncomplicated beauty. Jeff Kiers has designed a fluid, flexible and airy set for us, including a raised dance floor, numerous windows and arches that will fly in, a piano permanently on stage, and simple furniture that can be used in all scenes.
Audiences can expect to hear an array of beautiful Regency era music, often played live on piano. Costumes by Dani DeJong will match the uncluttered beauty of the set. Tasteful choreography by Samara Judd will enhance the plot and characters' journeys.
Pride and Prejudice is coming November 9 to Abbotsford—get your tickets now!