Adapted by David Burke
Directed by Ron Pyle
Scene design by Jason Waggoner
Costume design by Jeffrey Stegall
Lighting design by Richard Streeter
Synopsis: Mr. and Mrs. Bennet are delighted to learn that the nearby estate of Netherfield has been purchased by one Charles Bingley of London. Mr. Bingley is accompanied by his friend, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, a handsome young man of great wealth and position. As the Bennets have five daughters, the prospect of two newcomers who are both rich and single is quite intriguing. “What a fine thing for our girls!” Mrs. Bennet exudes to her husband, urging him to pay a call on Bingley. Mr. Bennet does so, but without the knowledge of his wife, whose vexation gives him great pleasure.
When the girls finally meet the new arrivals, the eldest daughter, Jane, and the amiable Mr. Bingley grow to mutual admiration from their first meeting. However, the relationship between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth (“Lizzy”) Bennet is not quite so promising.
Because the Bennets have no son, their family home, Longbourn, is entailed (legally willed) to their closest male relation. This person is the Reverend Mr. Collins, a sycophant to the right honorable Lady Catherine de Bourgh. According to law, this distant relative will own the family estate upon Mr. Bennet’s death. Mr. Collins arrives to pursue marriage to one of the Bennet daughters as a conciliatory and gracious gesture. Conveniently, he also finds the Bennet sisters captivating.
A military regiment is stationed in the nearby town, providing a constant source of interest to the youngest Bennet daughters. A handsome new officer, Mr. Wickham, joins the regiment and soon becomes a favorite of all the Bennet sisters, especially Lizzy.
From this wealth of new arrivals, the story proceeds until a suitable match is found for most, but not all, of the Bennet girls.
Adaptor ’s Note
“The work is rather too light, and bright, and sparkling; it wants shade; it wants to be stretched out here and there with a long chapter of sense; … anything that would form a contrast and bring the reader with increased delight to the playfulness … of the general style.”
With these words to her sister, Jane Austen allows that the greatest weakness of Pride and Prejudice is the unchecked comic spirit it displays. This may be true. But her archly crafted prose has enshrined the book as a popular favorite for almost 200 years.
It is interesting to note that Austen wrote her first draft of the book as a series of letters under the title First Impressions. Indeed, the first impressions of the characters ring so true that one can almost imagine the entire scene unfolding before the author as she sits at her writing desk. From this image of an author at her desk, our concept for the adaptation and staging of the novel materialized.