Published in September 2016 issue of Prospect Magazine
West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds, 6th September to 22nd October
The bicentenary of Charlotte Brontë’s birth is marked with a season of plays, a ballet, screenings, panel events and a “work-in-progress” musical, Wasted. Professor Ruth Robbins and Yorkshire poet Blake Morrison will debate the relative merits of Jane Eyre and Villette.
In a new stage adaptation of Villette, playwright Linda Marshall-Griffiths re-imagines the narrative while mining its coded, autobiographical passages about loneliness and the redemptive power of love; but will she resolve the ambiguity of the heroine’s final confession? We’ve had a fine, new theatrical Jane Eyre recently from the Bristol Old Vic, so the WYP has invited Northern Ballet to stage Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights with choreography by David Nixon and an original score by Claude-Michel Schönberg, composer of Les Misérables and Miss Saigon. An interactive digital arts project, Know Your Place, maps the lives and locations of the Brontës, putting them in their place. A very different place from the one that poet laureate Robert Southey tried to put them in, when, in 1837, he declared that “literature cannot be the business of a woman’s life, and it ought not to be.”