By Victoria Gill
From Nov. 1-2, “Pride and Prejudice,” a performance SCE from Abbey Kostecki, was performed in Decker Theatre.
Kostecki, playing the protagonist, Elizabeth Bennet, has been well aware of “Pride and Prejudice” most of her life as it is her mother’s favorite book.
The Regency Era play, based on the novel of the same name by Jane Austen, follows the middle-class Bennet family and the parents search for suitable matches for their four daughters: Jane, Elizabeth, Lidia, and Mary, to marry for a well-off life.
“My entire childhood I was being forced to watch every adaptation and version under the sun. I’ve grown up with it and read almost every version of it,” Kostecki said.
“My mom saw there was a version of ‘Sense and Sensibility,’ also by Kate Hamill, going up in New York. I absolutely loved the style of it,” she said. “It is silly and it is fun, and it tells a beautiful story in a more contemporary way, and when I read the play for ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ tears welled up, ‘bells rang.’”
Hamill took a comedic route with this adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice,” which attracted many of the ensemble members, including sophomore Rachel Jenkins, who plays Jane Bennet and Anne de Bourgh.
“It’s not every day that you get the chance to play an English character from the Regency Era,” she said. “The play is truly funny, and it brings out a different side of these characters that we don’t see in the novel.”
Hamill is known for her adaptations of Austen novels, and a staged version of “Emma” is forthcoming.
Guest director Hester Sachse ’09, was approached by the Department of Theatre & Dance, well aware of these contemporary versions from her current position as Executive Manager at Church Hill Theatre in Church Hill.
“I read the script and immediately connected to the joy and fun of it.” Sachse said. “I then had a chance to meet with Abbey, and her excitement about the script and its timeless appeal lined up wonderfully with mine.”
“I simply could not pass up an opportunity to return to Washington College and work on a show in the theater building that was under construction for three of my four years as a student,” she said.
According to junior Patrick Salerno, the stage manager for the production, the team found its groove in this fast-paced, witty, and energetic performance. This kept the rehearsal process exciting and the whole team in a positive mindset, especially when finding the theatricality in their performances he said.
Sachse and Kostecki both expressed how much they love that the play is a complete ensemble piece. For Kostecki, the cast have turned into the Bennet family. For Sachse, the cast is a cohesive unit of goofiness.
“Oh, gosh, I probably should not say [my favorite character,” Salerno said, “as the stage manager I feel a bit of a parental role, so I feel like cannot have a favorite.”
Salerno suggests looking at the moments you love from each character.
“In a way, if you are going to do the show right, you have to love all of the characters even with their flaws because otherwise you are not going to understand them; and, if you do not understand them, you are not going to be able to do it or even sit through the show,” he said.
This version of the story allowed him to easily connect to the core elements even though he has never read the original novel. Both Salerno and Kostecki anticipate most audience members will be in the same place.
“This show is a very theatrical and contemporary telling of a classic story, and we have embraced this fully for the production,” Chase said. “It should be watched with a sense of fun. It also tells an incredibly human story.”
“We are reflecting very real people and emotions in this show, and I think that is the most important element of art — we can reflect ourselves and our experiences in a way that nothing else can,” she said.
Kostecki said she wanted a story that was not sad, and audiences would enjoy. Especially for students who have to go to theatrical classes for performances, she said she wanted them to have something to look forward to on Friday night and have a good laugh.
“I think more entertaining forms of theatre are more the gateway forms of theatre. They are more accessible to everyone and for people who would not normally see a play and enjoy it, to come see this and have a blast for two hours and be able to feel good about themselves when they leave,” Kostecki said.