I still cannot believe it has happened!!!
I’ve had the most amazing time in Chawton House Library at the Pride and Prejudice Conference, called ‘BBC Pride and Prejudice 1995: Reflections Around a Much-Loved Production’. It was held in the honour of the mini-series’ 20th anniversary release.
In the first part, invited guests were talking about the Mr Darcy and the BBC series fandom.
The talks were funny, informative and well reseached.
The first guest was Devoney Looser from Arizona States University. The title of her talk was “Playing Mr. Darcy, from Archery to Wet Shirts”. The archery was a reference for the 1940’s version, where Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson had an archery scene, however the talk started earlier with lots of interesting details about early stage adaptations. The first (professional) Darcy on stage was E. Harcourt Williams; in 1906 Mary Steel MacKaye adapted the first full length play; the first Broadway show was in 1935 in New York and in 1936 in London; there was a play when Darcy was portraied by a 58 years old actor and Elizabeth was 45 years old actress. MGM considered Clark Gable as Mr Darcy.
We got to know that invented scenes were present from the very early plays, lots of them are amazingly ridiculious, I should say. It wasn’t only Andrew Davis, who put some ‘extra’ scenes in.
In 1974, Hollywood wanted to make a new adaptation with Peter O’Toole as Darcy, Lawrence Olivier as Mr Bennet and Greer Garson as Mrs Bennet. It would have been very interesting I think.
The second guest Juliette Wells from Goucher College, Baltimore. The talk’s title was Pride and Prejudice Mania in the 1940s. She was talking about Alberta H. Burke, an american lady who collected everything about Jane Austen and the 1940’s Pride and Prejudice. She made a book, sort of scrapbook (it was more than that), where she put reviews, articles, pictures, photos, letters, etc. At one point she even purchased Jane Austen’s lock of hair (which belongs to the Jane Austen Museum in Chawton). Wells also told us the anecdote about the purchase, letters Alberta wrote to MGM and Columbia Pictures, and she showed us photos from the ‘scrapbook’.
Later on, the other talks were equally good Linda V Troost (Washington & Jefferson College, Pennsylvania) and Sayre Greenfield (the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg): Pride & Prejudice 1995: The Game Changer
Nora Nachumi (Yeshiva University, New York):
In Search of Colin Firth’s Bum (and the women who love it)
Let me get the point and let’s see what’s happened when Simon Langton shared a story and later the cast Polly Maberly, Susannah Harker, Joanna David, Crispin Bonham-Carter and Benjamin Whitrow came and we had a Q&A session. I was so excited but at the same time didn’t know what to expect. I mean, they are all superstars for me (not only Jennifer and Colin), so I wasn’t sure how will they react when you want to speak to them or take a picture. They are the most amazing, kind, warm actors and actresses. When they talked, it was wonderful to see that they are really proud of the production and I think or would like to think that it wasn’t just a work for them. I would be heartbreaking to hear that it was just a job as Colin said in his biography.
After Crispin I made a selfie with Polly. We talked a great deal, she is absolutely awesome. Have you ever had a feeling that ‘If I would be introduced to her we could be friends’. Well, that was what I felt 20 years ago, when I’ve first seen the series. And today, there she was… exceedingly friendly, I was able to chat with her not only about PP but also about other stuff. She is really cool!
I also made a selfie with our ‘dearest Jane’, Susannah. She was very sweet just like her character, Jane. She and Jennifer got the topaz cross what they wore on set. Susannah still wears it quite often as she said.
Selfie with Simon. O, God! How funny it was when I asked him that at ‘The Look Scene’ when Elizabeth is playing on the piano and singing, was Jennifer singing. (the answer is no..) But Simon missunderstood the question and he sad that yes, at the look scene they are having sex 😀 😀 😀
They also signed not only these photos, but also the pictures in the official BBC Pride and Prejudice book. Lucky me!
A wonderful idea!!! Colin was absent but they put out a wet shirt!!!
If the title was a quote, then let me finish with a quote.
“HERE YOUR ARE. I’M DELIGHTED”