Many musicals, movies, straight plays, and performance pieces have recently been inspired by the late Charlotte Bronte's character Jane Eyre, not to mention several works celebrating the author herself. The Clarence Brown Theatre in Knoxville, TN, hosts the world premiere of Obie Award-winning playwright John O'Keefe's The Bronte Cycle. The two-play epic reveals the life of Charlotte Bronte, and each run in repertory at the CBT, April 10-May 3.
The Cycle's Part One: Flowers of Fancy provides an intimate look at Charlotte's family members: her two sisters, Emily and Anne, and their rigid father and aggressive brother. Part Two: The Seduction of Charlotte Bronte, transports audience members to a dreamscape world in which characters from Part One are referenced in a very different light, in tandem with scenes and characters from Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.
O'Keefe has been artist-in-residence at CBT for the past year, where he adapted and narrated their production of A Christmas Carol. His extensive preparation and research for The Bronte Cycle consisted of seven years of study and writing to document all aspects of the Bronte's lives, including a visit to Northern England to live in their homes. Having written more than 30 plays, he received the Obie Award for Best Play for his farce All Night Long. His solo performance piec Cycle director Elizabeth Craven is the former Artistic Director of Bay Area's Western Union Theatre Company (1984-1994), where she received the North Bay Critics' Award for Best Director and Best Small Company. She has formerly directed God's Country, Our Country's Good, and several other plays for CBT.
The cast, comprised of the Clarence Brown Theatre Company, includes UT faculty members John Craven, Bonnie Gould and Terry Webber. The production also features recent graduates from Harvard's American Repertory Theatre and the Yale School of Drama.
Special events include the Opening Night Club Coffee Circle, an informal discussion of the plays, with actors, directors and technicians, on April 15, 5:30 pm. Discounts are available if you purchase both shows at the same time. For interpretations for the deaf or hard-of-hearing, call for dates. For tickets or more info, call (423) 974-5161, or refer to the CBT regional listing on Playbill On-Line.
--By Blair Glaser