Book or screen version -Austen, Tolstoy and Shakespeare

Twas  early in March and all through the town

Windows were closed and blinds were pulled down

For didn’t you know that this day our fate

Was  for the temp to actually  rise to three eight

The refrig iwas loaded with salads and water

The air con was humming the way that it oughta

It made me feel all at sixes and sevens  *

So as this heat wave rolled on what was there to do but sit around and loaf and read and play with the blogs, that is after I’d rescued that dear little young rabbit from under car wheels on our street.  Such a pretty little grey thing who is now with the local vet and hoping that someone will come forward and claim him.

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But because of several blogs that I have read it has got me thinking, did I really like a classic book, or am I really just talking about a screen version

In the Comment section of blogs so  many people  refer to their favorite screen version and how wonderfully a certain actor portrayed the hero. I do it all the time.  Did I like Pride and Prejudice.  Of course, bu I I just loved  Jennifer Ehle, she was perfect for the role  in the BBC series.  How dare that Knightly woman think she could play that role. ( And I also loved Jennifer Ehle in Camomile Lawn  – I wonder if that was a book I could read.)  Which set me thinking as to how do we know that we really enjoyed the book or are reacting to the screen version.

I read One Day by David Nicholls without having seen the movie.  I was aware that Anne Hathaway had been cast for the role of  Emma  so her face floated across the page the whole time I read the book.  Her looks were perfect for the role. But I didn’t enjoy the movie.  It just didn’t seem to be cohesive the way the book was.

Sometimes, however, seeing a well-done screen interpretation can be a great help in re-reading.  Take War and Peace for example.  Audrey Hepburn as the elfin Natasha is just perfect. The images  my mind stored from the movie were a great help when  I again read the book.  I usually prefer to let my imagination run  riot but perhaps I needed a little help with mid C19th  Russia – those broad landscapes, a curving staircase, the magnitude of the war scenes. In fact I wouldn’t mind if some books were illustrated with a few  paintings or photos to illustrate possible settings

Remember. I’m talking about do I know I really like the book or am I influenced by what I have seen on the screen.

If you were to ask me if I like this or that play by Shakespeare I would probably wobble my hand from side to side in a take it or leave it motion. But if you should pick on one w here a stage or screen version  had helped me to understand and enjoy the play and sent me back to read the script then you would get a resounding Yes, I liked it.

This was true when I recently watched the latest offering of Richard II, part of the series The Hollow Crown. I have always found this play a bit boring  but now I am a great fan.  The help I needed this time was not with the backgrounds but with the way the words were spoken, the phrasing and the pauses to get the meaning from the words.  Ben Wishaw as Richard II did this perfectly, in fact he IS Richard II.  So still of body but with such subtle facial expressions you can read what Richard is thinking.

Last night our local TV had an episode of Shakespeare Uncovered, this time on Richard II, presented by the admirable Derek Jacobi.  There were many excerpts from productions long past, but even though the words were familiar none of them moved me the way the present version did..  It is living history.

In the end, does it really matter ? Book or screen version or the beautiful meld of both, which give me so much pleasure.  So thank you Jane Austen, Shakespeare, Tolstoy et al.

* With apologies to ….whoever.

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EMMA and Jane Austen – a stage interpretation

Jane Austen seems to be cropping up everywhere at the moment.  CricketMuse loves her Persuasion.  But I’m wondering how people like EMMA ,if anyone has seen a stage presentation of the novel, and  if Jane would approve of us taking her beautiful novel and turning it into a visual feast.

Today I got my notice of the next production from The Theatre of the Winged Unicorn, an  amateur theatre group who present their plays at Ceres, in the hills ashort distance  from Geelong in Victoria. This time we are to see Emma and I am looking forward to this.

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One of the attractions of these twice-yearly productions is that they are beautifully presented in an old converted Temperance Hall. The theatre only seats about 100 people.  It is essential to get there very early, particularly if you are not very tall, to get a seat with a clear view of the stage.

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There is a lengthy interval when everyone troops across the road to thechurch hall for a traditional country supper.

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Looking east from the theatre with Geelong in the distance and Corio Bay.

Last year we were treated to Noel Coward’s Hay Fever and Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Nile

Going to Ceres is more than just going to see a stage performance, it is a total experience,  The atmosphere of the surroundings, the delightful old hall, the excellent production, the old-fashioned supper, mingling with the like-minded theatre-goers and the short drive home through the dark countryside with the lights of Geelong spread out before you, make for a memorable evening.

The images came from The Theatre of the Winged Unicorn