Dramatic Moments – where theatre and literature collide #1

Finding the stage in the novel or other work of literature:

excerpt from Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

“Everything now was in a regular train; theatre, actors, actresses, and dresses, were all getting forward: but though no other great impediments arose, Fanny found, before many days were past, that it was not all uninterrupted enjoyment to the party themselves, and that she had not to witness the continuance of such unanimity and delight, as had been almost too much for her at first. Every body began to have their vexation. Edmund had many. Entirely against his judgement, a scene painter arrived from town, and was at work, much to the increase of the expenses, and what was worse, of the éclat of their proceedings; and his brother, instead of being really guided by him as to the privacy of the representation, was giving an invitation to every family who came in his way. Tom himself began to fret over the scene painter’s slow progress, and to feel the miseries of waiting. He had learned his part – all his parts – for he took every trifling one that could be united with the Butler, and began to be impatient to be acting; and every day thus employed, was tending to increase his sense of the insignificance of all his parts together, and make him more ready to regret that some other play had not been chosen.

Fanny, being always a very courteous listener, and often the only listener at hand, came in for the complaints and distresses of most of them. She knew that Mr Yates was in general thought to rant dreadfully, that Mr Yates was disappointed in Henry Crawford, that Tom Bertram spoke so quick he would be unintelligible, that Mrs Grant spoilt everything by laughing, that Edmund was behind-hand with his part, and that it was misery to have anything to do with Mr Rushworth, who was wanting a prompter through every speech… So far from being all satisfied and all enjoying, she found every body requiring something they had not, and giving occasion of discontent to the others. Every body had either a part too long or too short, nobody would attend as they ought, nobody would remember on which side they were to come in, nobody but the complainer would observe any directions.”

(Excerpt from Mansfield Park by Jane Austen.)