Goddard Riverside’s Hudson Warehouse is debuting a brand-new adaptation of the Jane Austen classic Pride and Prejudice as part of Goddard Riverside’s Women History Artist Month (WHAM) festival.
The novel has enchanted readers — and movie audiences — for generations with its tale of Elizabeth Bennet, her sisters, and the arrogant and alluring Mr. Darcy.
“It’s a perfect WHAM story because Elizabeth defies convention. She refuses marriage twice — that was outrageous for her time!” says Hudson Warehouse Executive Director Susane Lee, who wrote and directs the new adaptation.
“It’s a story about the role of women. You had to be married or you’d be a burden on society. Or if you made an imprudent marriage, it sullied your whole family,” she explains. “Despite the beautiful costumes, the dancing and the parties, this was a very strict society.”
Nonetheless, Lee adds, “This story has a lot of strong women.” She says she took care to depict the emotional journeys of all five Bennet women — “every daughter has a voice” – and to capture the humor of the original.
“There’s a lot of tension and tragedy so you need the humor,” she laughs.
The plot took a page from Austen’s own life, Lee notes. At age 21 the future novelist received a marriage proposal from a wealthy young man. She accepted Ð but broke the engagement the next day. She would never marry, though her novels often focused on the role of love and marriage.
Lee has designed her version of the story to be distinctive Ð right down to Mr. Darcy’s appearance. “Everyone portrays Darcy with dark hair,” she says. “Our Darcy is light-haired!”
Pride and Prejudice will run Thursday through Sunday, this week and next, at the West End Theatre, Church at St. Paul & St. Andrew, 263 West 86th Street (at West End Avenue).
Women History Artist Month continues through March 31 with plays, music and art by and about women. For a full schedule, go to goddard.org/WHAM.