Out Loud Reimagines Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre, by Chrlotte Bronte, is a beloved classic. It’s on reading lists for English classes, it’s been adapted for stage and screen and it’s on bookshelves in even the tiniest of bookstores. It is one of those pieces that you feel a familiarity with, and can’t possibly imagine someone coming up with a new and exciting way to showcase this story. Enter stage right, a New England Premiere of Jane Eyre directed by Out Loud’s artistic director, Kira Hawkridge, and adapted by England’s Shared Experience, Polly Teale. Jane Eyre is Out Loud’s penultimate show of their third season, and promises to show this beloved classic in a new and imaginative way. “It’s a stripped-down period piece,” Hawkridge explains, “but it’s not confined. It’s liberated.” Hawkridge saw this adaptation years ago while visiting England, and it has stuck with her ever since. “Shared Experience physicalized the emotional experience. They way that they adapted Jane Eyre was in our wheelhouse. It was time.”

As if orchestrating a New England premiere wasn’t exciting enough, Out Loud is collaborating with artists outside New England for this exciting venture. Katherine Skoretz, a PhD candidate in theater at Wayne State Univerity in Detroit, Mich, made the trek to little Rhody to play Jane. “I’ve been following Out Loud for a couple of years now and have been excited by the daring choices they make in terms of staging and storytelling.”

David Nando Rodgers is returning to his home state to play multiple roles in the production. His training ranges from the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theatre Actor Training program to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London. “What excites me about Polly Teale’s version is that she has found a balance between the literal and emotional chronologies of the story! Theater can allow us to not only see the literal, but physically see what is otherwise intangible. Here, we are seeing the parallels that exist between peoples’ experiences in an engrossing, immediate way.”

Another interesting facet to this production is the photography exhibit by Justine M. Johnson, which acts as an extension to the production. In fact, this is something that is uniquely Out Loud, as Johnson’s photography has been showcased during almost all of Out Loud’s current season. Out Loud is challenging audiences to examine a piece through all artistic platforms.

Kira Hawkridge explains that Teale’s version “provides a visceral and unique point of view as audiences are taken beyond the classic novel, diving deeper into the nature of both society and the self.” Katherine Skoretz, who plays Jane, agrees. “I think Jane doesn’t realize what her passion and imagination do and so many adaptations don’t make that inner struggle and passion visible, so we consistently see a plain, stoic Jane. Sadly, I have watched her and failed to understand why she’s special. I think this is a unique failing of adaptations that this Shared Experience one does not share.”

Although Out Loud is currently only in their third season, the company has a history of taking chances and thinking outside the box. With Hawkridge at the helm we can be sure to expect more of this type of intuitive work for years!

Jane Eyre opens on August 6, and runs until August 29.  All shows are at 7:30pm at the Mathewson Street Church.  

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