Calling all readers! Multnomah County Library put together a reading list inspired by our production of Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley. From the romances of England's great Victorian novelists to confessions of a Jane Austen addict, there's lots of great options to deepen your connection to the play.Learn More
Please share the following points with your group of students. Encourage the students to practice these points throughout the workshop. Going to see a play is very different from going to the movies. During live theater, the audience is as important a part of the experience as the actors.
- Live response is good! If you’re telling a story to a friend, and they really respond or listen, it makes you want to tell the story better—to keep telling the story. So, the better an audience listens, laughs and responds, the more the actors want to tell the story. In this way, the audience (as well as the actors) can make a performance great.
- The actors can hear you talking. If an audience member is not paying attention, the actors know it. Have you ever had a conversation with someone and felt that they’d rather be someplace else? This is the EXACT feeling actors get when people in the audience are talking.
- The actors can see you. Even though the actors are pretending to be other characters, it is their job to “check in” with the audience in order to tell the story better. This is another way in which theater greatly differs from the movies. Film actors can do a take over and over to try to get it right. Theater actors have one chance with an audience and want to make sure they are communicating clearly. Imagine trying to tell a group of fellow students something only to see them slouching, pretending to be bored, or sitting with their eyes closed in an attempt to seem disinterested and “too cool” for what you had to say. Think about it.
- No cell phones, candy wrappers, gum, etc. Please turn off all cell phones and put th em away. Do not eat or chew gum inside the theater. These things disturb the people around you as well as the actors. As much as you might be tempted to text a friend how cool the play you're watching is, please wait until after it is over to send any texts.
- Be mindful of other patrons, both in the theater and in the lobbies. Please don't run in the lobby area, and help us take care of our elderly patrons by opening a door for them or helping them get by. They will be so appreciative! Keep in mind that Portland Center Stage at The Armory is welcoming you into our home on this field trip. Please treat our home with respect.
*Thank you to Montana Shakespeare in the Parks for these excellent etiquette suggestions.*
Student Matinee Curriculum
Portland Center Stage’s Student Matinee Program seeks to provide all young people with opportunities to experience and directly participate in the art of high-quality, professional theater in a context that supports their education. The following is designed to help students explore themes found in our production of Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley. We encourage you to choose the most appropriate activities for your group and adapt as needed.
- To encourage personal connections between the students and the major themes of the play.
- To excite students about the story and introduce the theatrical elements of the production.
- To engage students using the actors’ tools (body, voice, imagination).
1. Gender Roles in 19th Century England:
The focus on women as the primary characters in Jane Austen's work may be the largest factor in the popularity of her novels. Her characters are complex, funny, witty, independent and often struggling to find their places within the strict structures placed upon them and their lives by the expectations and rules of society. Discuss whether or not Jane Austen created an idealized version of women in her time or if these characters were created with the intent of a progressive commentary on society and its restrictions?
2. Relevance of Jane Austen:
The works of Jane Austen have been the inspiration of numerous contemporary books and films, both adaptations and new original works. What universal themes in the novel resonate today? Discuss possible titles like Clueless, Bridget Jones's Diary and the sequel, Austenland, Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, and more!
3. Character Discussion:
Review this article - There's Something About Mary Bennet - and discuss the recent trends in popular culture to focus on Mary Bennet. What makes her relatable for an audience, considering the themes of wanting to be noticed and understood?
"In the end, though, how many times have you felt what it feels to be Mary—desperate to be heard, to be seen, to be not-ignored? How many times have you tried your best, only to be bested by someone else? (Someone, ugh, who barely even tried?) How many times have you been lonely, and petty, and indignant, and misunderstood? How many times have you wished to say something very sensible, but knew not how?
"The current Mary moment—all those resurrections and re-imaginings—tends to take that core relatability and amplify it. The Forgotten Sister, its marketing literature declares, “plucks the neglected Mary from obscurity and beautifully reveals her hopes and dreams.” And “with nearly all of her sisters married and gone from the household,” The Pursuit of Mary Bennet announces, “the unrefined Mary has transformed into an attractive and eligible young woman in her own right.”