At the National Theatre on October 2nd I went to see the live performance of ‘Jane Eyre’, an interpreted production by the director Sally Cookson, who directed other productions in London’s West End such as ‘Hetty Feather’ and ‘Stick Man’. The play took place in the National Theatre on London’s South Bank, and was a extremely different interpretation of Charlotte Brontë’s classic novel which was accepted by the audience with great enthusam.
- National Theatre, South Bank
- October 2nd
- Sally Cookson
- Cookson also directed Hetty Feather and Stick Man
- Different/abstract interpretation of class novel
- Charlotte Brontë
The ambiguity of the play held an air of hope and wishfulness, capturing the audience's attention almost immediately, whether this was caused by the unlikely stage set up and the grand piano placed quite obviously amongst the singular structure that resembled the look of a childhood climbing frame right in the centre of the stage, however the plays new-age look captured the attention and hearts of the audience watching it as it drew us in to cry and laugh and fear for the feisty Jane Eyre.
- Hope and wishfulness
- Capturing audiences attention
- Unsusal stage set up
- Childhood climbing frame stage
- New age look
- Fiesty Jane Eyre
There was no grand house set up created to kid the audience into believing they we in ‘Gateshead’ being quite seers of Jane’s abusive childhood, just a simple one build structure that, even in its most abstract form, became so heavily symbolic and well thought through by Cookson and Michael Vale the set designer.
- No grand house set up
- Jane's abusive childhood
- Abstract form
- Heavily symblolic
- Micheal Vale - set designer
With Cookson and Vale as director and set designer, the newest interpretation of Jane Eyre also had Aideen Malone as the lighting designer. The three as a team created a beautiful, once again abstract and unique lighting technique that became very obvious and very clear the audience. Through use of clear white curtains surrounding the stage in a boxed in fashion, the lighting was placed behinding the curtains and reflected through, this was clearly emphasized in the act one, in the scene early on where young Jane Eyre gets thrown into the Red Room by her wicked aunt, where her uncle died years before. With dulled lighting and a red glow coming through the curtains the audience were able to join Jane in her anxiety and panic in the scene.
- Aideen Malone - lighting designer
- Unique lighting techniques
- White curtains in a boxed fashion
- Lighting behind curtain
- Use red room as an example
The effectiveness of staging and atmosphere of the set were selected beautifully with obvious care and taken to make sure that the beauty and harshness of the time were captured in every minuet of the play. The stage held very few props which kept the setting of the play very simplistic and minimalist but also suggested the notion of how Jane never really had very much herself and so continued to remain without even when she is a governess for Mr. Rochester in act four.
- Effectiveness of staging + atmosphere
- Minimalist set - simplistic
- Suggest how Jane had very little as her own
- Even when becoming a governess for Mr. Rochester
Throughout the play, symbolic features were used to help the audience identify, whether having read the book or not, the time period of Jane’s life they were watching. For example, when Jane had been sent to school, little girls school pinafores were hung from the ceiling and were removed when Jane left to go to Thornfield Hall, where they were replaced with strings of lights that could be interpreted to being hung there and lit as the possibility of Thornfield Hall being the lighter time in her life.
- Symbolic features showing the stages in Jane's life
- School set - pinafores hanging
- Thornfield Hall - string of lights hanging
- Lights could represent it being a lighter and more hopeful time in Jane's life
The colours used for the set and for costume and the minimal props used were very basic and bland, which was interpretively used to ensure the attention of the audience was drawn to actors and what was being said rather than how the set was coloured and the detail of the actors costumes, the set designer and costume designer would have had to work syncfully together to create the element of minimalism to both the costume and the set.
- Colours used for set and costume
- Minimal props
- Used to ensure audiences attention to acting
- Set/Costume desinger worked together to create minimalist effect
The costumes themselves remained neutral throughout, for all characters, multi rolling or not, all characters kept the same outfit with a small addition to highlight the the character transformation that was made, the only character that had a noticeably non changed costume was Mr. Rochester’s wife who was also the only character that had any strong sense of colour to her costume which was created to add a sense of presence and foreboding has her dress was a deep rich red.
- Costumes neutral
- Multi rolling characters simple - small additions to highlight character change
- Mr. Rochester's wife only character with no costume change strong colour of costume
- Rich red dress
- Created a presence and foreboding
The genre of the piece captured the original tragic romance genre and Victorian heart ache that Brontë originally intended for her book and was transferred beautifully on stage by Cookson who fed into more of Jane’s childhood fiestness, adding a sense of early feminism to the piece through means of scripting as well as posture, this was also picked up on it the Guardian's review of the show, saying that “Sally Cookson presents a picture of exultant feminism in Jane Eyre”.
- Genre captured the orinigal tragic romance
- Victorian heart ache that Bronte often wrote in the style of
- Transfurred well onto stage
- Cookson fed into Jane's childhood fiestness
- Early feminism theme through script + posture
- Guardian's review "Sally Cookson presents a picture of exultant feminism in Jane Eyre"
The effect the early feminist, tragic romance had on the audience was clearly impacted via use of the music and the power that went with the music choices and timings, joint with lighting and special effects such as real fire on stage, the genre was powerfully translatable to the audience whether familiar to the book or not. The set choice was cleverly devised; through use to a wooden structure resembling a climbing frame the audience were able to see deeper meaning into the use of the abstract structure that held many different elements of levels as well as highlighting the child still within Jane’s character and the children constantly around Jane through the production.
- Early feminist
- Tragic romance
- Impacted via the use of the music and power
- Music choices/timing
- Lighting and special effects eg fire on stage
- Wooden structure resembling a climbing frame - deeper meaning abstract structure
Ella Cory-Wright wrote for culture review that “you are confronted by a tangle of wooden objects; ladders, an enormous kitchen table, walkways, stools. Tucked up in a corner is a drum-kit, double-bass and piano” this description of the initial meeting of the stage is beautifully accurate and a good description of the original reaction to the stage set up.
- Ella Cory-Wright wrote for Culture Review
- “you are confronted by a tangle of wooden objects; ladders, an enormous kitchen table, walkways, stools. Tucked up in a corner is a drum-kit, double-bass and piano”
- Description of the oringinal meeting of the stage set up
- Quote describes stage set up well
Lighting and the different levels of lighting heavily influenced the mood of the scenes, reflecting whether Jane was anxious or angry or scared, the lighting was very clear into aiding the audience's interpretation of what was going on and how Jane was feeling. The lighting also reflected the different times of day and where Jane was, for example when Jane was speaking to Mr. Rochester in the garden, the lights went up and continued to brighten slowly to highlight the passage of time and the sun rising in the early hours of the morning.
- Lighting and levels influnced mood of scenes
- Showing Jane's various emotions
- Anxiety, anger, scared
- Clear to audience to aid interpretation of Jane's emotions
- Eg: Jane speaking to Mr. Rochester in the garden - lights went up slowly to show the passage of time
- Sun rise, early hours of the morning
Another time the lighting was effective was when Jane had returned to Gateshead and had to go into the Red Room to see her dying aunt. In this scene the red glowing lighting were reflected through the curtains like in act one when Jane was a child, but the red lighting was darker this time, and not so vivid which could be interpreted as being used to symbolize how Jane was less panicked or angry due to her being much older and also being in control of the situation due to her no longer present fear of her aunt.
- Another lighting technique
- Jane returning to Gateshead - red room
- Red glowing lighting reflected on curtains
- Red light darker than earlier in play
- Interpretable as symbolising Jane being less angry due to her age + being in control in the siuation
- No scared of aunt anymore
Comparing such a classic novel as Jane Eyre to the the beautifully touching story of The Curious Incident of the dog in the night time and the performances produced both by the National Theatre is such an extreme one to make.
- Comparing classic Jane Eyre
- Both produced by the National Theatre
- Very different
The electric staticness that went the live performance of Curious Incident was capturing and heart warming. Marianne Elliott’s direct and dazzling 4D construction, pushed the audience into the overwhelming mind of an autistic young boy. The lighting used was constant, with reflective images and hypnotic sound track was an extreme opposite to the comparatively calming set of Jane Eyre.
- Electric staticness of Curious Incidenent
- Capturing and heart warming
- Marianne Elliott's direct and dazzling 4D contruction
- Pushed audience into the overwhelming mind of an austistic boy
- Lighting used constantly
- Reflective images and hypnotic soundtrack
- Extreme opposite to Jane Eyre's calming set
Curious captured the complexity and hyper awareness of everything and anything and the desperate need for understanding that comes with autism, creating a unique and electric play in a rubix cube type of stage set up.
- Curious captured complexity and hyper awareness
- Desperate need for understanding
- Making a unique and electric play
- Rubix cube type set up
The stage set up was designed to be overwhelming for the audience, as a strong and visual representation on how the main character from the book sees the world. The intensity of the play was just as heavy as Jane Eyre however the subject matters were so controversially different, with the themes of Jane Eyre being love, loss and finding one's self while Curious Incident’s themes discuss the mathematics into the worlds around us but also covers both love and loss as well as trust, but within different means, Christopher’s character was not in love at all throughout the play but was unable to identify his feelings about love towards his family and how to appropriately show are.
- Overwhelming to the audience
- Strong and visual reprentation about how main character sees the world
- Intensity of the play just as heavy as Jane Eyre
- Subject matters controversially different
- JE themes: love, loss and finding ones self
- CI themes: mathematics of the world, love, loss (different type of love to JE)