Pride and Prejudice

by Jane Austen

adapted and directed by Meri Mackney

Performed in the Open Air at

Mottisfont Abbey


18rd to Saturday 28th July 2007 (except Monday 23rd)

Director’s Notes

I was probably about 9 years old when I first fell in love with Mr Darcy. Over the years, I returned to the book again and again, reading it, teaching it, and never tiring of Austen’s wit, the Bennet family dynamics and the classic love story.

Over 25 years of being involved in Maskers productions at Mottisfont Abbey, I had often thought that it would be a wonderful setting for the story. Two years ago, on the set of The Man in the Iron Mask, suddenly I could see it. I mentioned the idea to the productions manager and in no time I was presenting it to the productions panel. Now all I had to do was adapt the book to the space and reduce the running time to about 2 hours! How I envied Andrew Davies the luxury of 6 hours for his television adaptation.

It took a full year before the fledgling script was ready to be read by a small group of Maskers. Then the revising process started and continued right through into rehearsals. There have been headaches along the way - not least, the amount of furniture you have to have on a stage with a family of seven to seat - but so much fun and laughter.

This production is dedicated to my mother, Marjorie Wright, who loved Austen’s stories and introduced me to them at a young age. She greatly enjoyed the planning stages of this play, reading sections of the script as I completed them, and discussing with me character development and the perils of adaptation for an open air show. Sadly, she didn’t live to see the actual production but I’m sure she’s still supporting us wherever she is.

Our other dedication is to Alan Baker, a much loved, unsung worker on so many Mottisfont shows. We will miss him and his video camera at this production.

I have been really excited by the whole process of taking Pride and Prejudice from book to script to stage. I hope you enjoy the end result.

Meri Mackney

Pride and Prejudice

The manuscript was first written between 1796 and 1797, and was initially called First Impressions, but was never published under that title. First Impressions was the first of Jane Austen’s works to be offered to a publisher, but the publisher turned it down without even looking at the manuscript. After some revision, it was published on 28 January 1813.

Marriage is set as a theme of the novel in the first chapter, and in the famous opening line - “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

The novel portrays life in the genteel, rural society of the day and tells of the initial misunderstandings between Elizabeth Bennet and Darcy.

Her biting social commentary and acute observation, her wit and irony, made Austen one of the most influential and respected novelists of the early nineteenth century. In her novels, and in her letters, she explores what she described as the ‘little matters’ of women’s daily lives - ‘Little Matters they are to be sure, but highly important.’

The Cast
Mr Bennet Ken Hann
Mrs Bennet Hazel Burrows
Jane Bennet Rachael Courage
Elizabeth Bennet Susannah Lawther
Mary Bennet Katherine Harris
Kitty Bennet Harriet Clayton
Lydia Bennet George Moody
Charlotte Lucas Hannah Price
Sir William Lucas Bruce Atkinson
Lady Lueas Clare Minns
Mrs Phillips Christine Baker
Charles Bingley Matt Avery
Fitzwilliam Darey Steve Cosier
Caroline Bingley Suzanne Provins
Mr Collins Adam Taussik
Mr Wickham Peter Burrows
Georgiana Darcy Alex Austin
Colonel Forster Jonathan Shepherd
Mrs Forster Sally Scott
Denny Justin Marsh
Mrs Gardiner Jo Iacovou
Lady Catherine de Bourgh Allegra Carlton
Colonel Fitzwilliam Paul Baker
Mr Gardiner Albie Minns
Housekeeper Brenda Atkinson
Butler Graham Skinner
Maid (Longbourn) Leah Kibble
Maid (Rosings) Hayley Cheeseworth
Maid (Vicarage) Mary Hamilton
Ball guests Paula Beattie, Jane Miller, Linda Webb, James Norton, Ross Holland

Jane Austen

Jane Austen was born on December 16th, 1775 at Steventon, near Basingstoke; she was the seventh child of the Rev. George Austen and his wife Cassandra. The Parish Register for Steventon records Jane’s baptism on the day following her birth, and the Register is in the Hampshire Record Office, Winchester.

After her father’s death in 1805, she moved with her sister and mother to Southampton in the autumn of 1806, staying temporarily with her brother Frank, by then a naval captain, who had rented lodgings in Southampton. They then moved to a house in Castle Square, where the Bosun’s Locker public house now stands, which they rented from the Marquess of Lansdowne.

In July 1809 they moved to a cottage in the village of Chawton, on the estate owned by her brother Edward. It was here that Jane Austen spent the last eight years of her life, and where she revised not only Pride and Prejudice but also Northanger Abbey and Sense and Sensibility, as well as writing Mansfield Park, Emma and Persuasion entirely at Chawton.

Early in 1817 Jane became ill and was referred to a doctor in Winchester. She moved into lodgings in College Street in Winchester with Cassandra for the last few weeks of her life. She died on the l8th July l8l7 at the age of 41, and was buried in Winchester Cathedral. “It is a satisfaction to me to think that [she is] to lie in a Building she admired so much,” her sister Cassandra Austen wrote later.

Production Team
Director Meri Mackney
Production manager Chris Baker
Assistant Director Hazel Burrows
Stage manager Nick Lawther
Backstage Manager David Fancett
Costume design Serena Brown
Wardrobe Serena Brown, Allegra Cariton, Paula Beattie
Set design Peter Liddiard
Set construction David Jupp, Peter Liddiard and team
Set Dressing John Carrington
Lighting design Tony Lawther
Recorded Sound Jamie McCarthy
Live Sound Tony Lawther
Technical team David Ilsley, Emma Golby-Kirk, Nathan Weeks, Craig Mintram
Properties Ella Lockett, Gill Buchanan, Alison McCarthy, Liz Hill
Front of house managers Geoff and Pam Cook, Julia Jupp
Publicity Design John Hamon
Programme Sandy White
Marketing Angela Stansbridge, Luciana Lattanzi, Sarah Russell
Photography Clive Weeks
Flower Arrangements Jane Ford

Horses and Carriages supplied by Kevin and Samantha Madgwick Of Absolutely Fabulous


Music used in this production by kind permission of Martin Souter and The Jane Austen Centre, Bath.

The Beau Nash Ensemble and Minerva Records, Bath.

Mary  playing - recorded by Chris Bluemel on a period piano, courtesy of David Owen Norris.


click on a photo to enlarge it


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