Theatre in Bristol: Jane Eyre and Shakespeare

The Old Vic’s Jane Eyre is a bold and dynamic re-imagining of Brontë’s timeless masterpiece, presented in two parts, marks the return of Sally Cookson to Bristol Old Vic’s Theatre stage after her triumphant production of Peter Pan last Christmas. She brings her extraordinary storytelling talents to bear on one of the most influential works of the 19th century with an ensemble cast of ten actors and musicians.

Almost 170 years on, there is still much in Charlotte Brontë’s story to inspire today’s generation. At a time when equal pay is still debated and ”Feminist” is seen as a negative label by 90% of young women, this empowering and courageous production throws into sharp relief one woman’s fight for freedom and fulfilment on her own terms. It also realises a life-long ambition of Cookson’s to take the iconic figures and radically re-examine the characters we think we know so well. Bertha will be expressed and explored through music composed by Sally’s long-term collaborator Benji Bower and questioning her depiction as merely the “madwoman in the attic.”

This production is exploring themes of individual freedom, accountability, the stigma of mental illness and uses an original score and live music created by Benji Bower, the two parts will draw on dark fairy tales and folk tradition to create a vivid and compelling journey.

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The Tobacco Factory’s interpretation of As You Like It is both funny and moving, this is Shakespeare’s greatest exploration of the meaning of love, its madness and transcendence.

Expelled from the city, Rosalind and Orlando – the one fleeing a tyrannous uncle, the other a murderous brother – rediscover each other in the Forest of Arden. But what awaits them in that Arcadian wilderness? Will they find true love, or just lose themselves? Are they merely players in a pastoral fantasy, or do they have a rare opportunity – to explore the reality of their feelings free from all the normal constrictions of courtly convention and parental oversight?

Following the success of last year’s tour of Two Gentlemen of Verona, this production will embark on the company’s second UK tour immediately after its Factory Theatre run – generously supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

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