Month: October 2017

Kate Hamill’s Pride and Prejudice: Suggested Reading

In Kate Hamill’s new adaptation of Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice, the classic story gets a modern sensibility with a hearty dose of quirk. As a companion to the production, we’ve put together the following additional resources for your pleasure, whether you’re already a die-hard Janeite or have your own prejudices towards the oft-cited story.

Pride and Prejudice, Mary Evans Picture Library


  • The Annotated Pride and Prejudice (2012) by Jane Austen and David M. Shapard: With thousands of annotations to accompany the full text (explanations of historical context, citations from Austen’s other writings, etc.) as well as maps and illustrations, this exhaustive edition is indispensable to first time readers of Austen and lifelong devotees alike.  
  • Jane Austen: A Life (1999) by Claire Tomalin: Many biographies on Austen have reinforced the popular idea of a sheltered and untroubled spinster. Tomalin upsets that narrative by abstaining from embellishment and gossip in favor of piecing together the more serious and tumultuous moments in the author’s life.
  • Jane Austen: The Complete Works (2015) by Jane Austen: Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, and Love and Friendship. These iconic novels have had generations of readers in a swoon.  Even in our modern age, her mastery of the English language leaps off the page.   

Still from the 2005 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, starring Keira Knightley.

Film & TV

  • Pride and Prejudice (1995): Seen by many as the definitive Pride and Prejudice adaptation, the BBC/A&E’s co-production—starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth—was a cultural phenomenon and one of the most popular programs in the history of both networks.
  • Pride and Prejudice (2005): In the most recent film adaptation of the book, director Joe Wright encouraged some marked deviation from the original text. It was a commercial success and found a loyal and lasting following through its aesthetic vision and in leading actors Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen.
  • Death Comes to Pemberley (2014): This PBS and Masterpiece Mystery! mini-series—adapted from P.D. James’ novel of the same name, which was written as a continuation of Pride and Prejudice—is Austen meets Agatha [Christie]. Taking place six years after the marriage of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett, ball preparations at Pemberley are halted abruptly when a corpse is discovered.
  • Clueless (1995): Loosely based on Emma and set in Beverly Hills, high school it girl Cherilyn “Cher” Horowitz plays matchmaker to two of her high school’s teachers. When she tries to do the same for a new student, affairs of the heart turns her world upside down.
  • Love & Friendship (2016): The recent film adaptation of Austen’s epistolary novel (a novel structured as a series of documents, most commonly letters), Lady Susan, features a cast that includes Kate Beckinsale and Stephen Fry. Though it uses the title of another Austen work, the story follows the escapades of the recently-widowed Lady Susan and her crusade to secure wealthy husbands for herself and her daughter.
  • “Furst Impressions”, Wishbone (1995): The Peabody and Emmy Award-winning series broadcast on PBS Kids in the 1990s sparked young imaginations and introduced an entire generation of children to some of the greatest works of literature from around the world, as told by its title character: a daydreaming Jack Russell Terrier.
  • The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (2012-2013): A multiplatform adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries was the first YouTube series to win a Primetime Emmy Award. Reimagined as a series of vlogs, our “Lizzie” here is a grad student who decides to start documenting the trials and tribulations of her life on video as a part of her thesis.


  • The Divine Jane: Reflections on Austen (2010) by Francesco Carrozzini: Originally commissioned for an exhibition at the Morgan Library & Museum, this series of short films features six leading writers, scholars, and actors and engages with each individual on Austen’s lasting legacy.
  • Jane Austen: Behind Closed Doors (2017) by Lucy Worsley: English historian, author, curator, and television presenter Lucy Worsley guides audiences through Austen’s life by way of the different houses where she stayed and how each residence left a lasting impression on the celebrated author and the fictional worlds she created.

Illustration by Susie Hogarth


  • “The Word Choices That Explain Why Jane Austen Endures” by Kathleen A. Flynn and Josh Katz: If you love linguistics and visualizing data this article is the cherry on top for any Austen fan—her acute perceptiveness of her fellow human beings has met few equals.   
  • “Reading Jane Austen’s Final, Unfinished Novel” by Anthony Lane: Jane Austen died four months after writing the last line of her final, unfinished manuscript (now known as “Sanditon”). Reviews were mixed, with many questioning whether Austen was experimenting with new directions in her writing, or whether no consensus could be made with death hovering over the author.     
  • “How Jane Austen’s Emma changed the face of fiction” by John Mullan: “Revolutionary” and “Jane Austen” rarely share the same sentence, but Mullan makes a compelling case for Emma’s stylistic triumphs.

Performances of the Primary Stages production of Pride and Prejudice start November 7 at the Cherry Lane Theatre. For tickets and additional information, please visit our website.

First Look: Inside the Pride and Prejudice Rehearsal Room

The company of Kate Hamill’s Pride and Prejudice came together on October 17 at Primary Stages for the first read through of the show. Enjoy a glimpse of this joyous cast, featuring Mark Bedard, Kimberly Chatterjee, Kate Hamill, Jason O’Connell, Amelia Pedlow, Chris Thorn, John Tufts, and Nance Williamson.

Photography by Ashley Garrett

Performances of the Primary Stages production of Pride and Prejudice start November 7 at the Cherry Lane Theatre. For tickets and additional information, please visit our website.

Gospelists, philosophers, and writers: get to know the historical figures of Discord

A former president, the writer responsible for “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”, and a Russian aristocrat dressed like a peasant walk into a room… The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord by Scott Carter imagines what might happen if these three men were trapped in limbo together.

Whether you’re a devotee of one of these men or only know them by their most famous contributions, they were defining characters of their time beyond our stage—their philosophies and written texts shaped (and continue to shape) a legion of followers.

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) was the 3rd U.S. president, and a longtime politician and philosopher:

  • Focused on universal human rights, religious equality, and education.
  • Fathered six children with his slave, Sally Hemmings.
  • Famous work: Declaration of Independence.

Charles Dickens at the age of 47, by William Powell Frith. London, England, 1859

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) was a British author, critic, and commentator:

  • Focused on poverty and social class.
  • The first modern literary celebrity.
  • Famous works: Oliver TwistA Christmas Carol, and Great Expectations.


Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (1828-1910) was a Russian writer, thinker, and social reformer:

  • Focused on morality and faith.
  • Born an aristocrat and revered the peasant class.
  • Famous works: War and Peace and Anna Karenina.

Performances of The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord by Scott Carter run September 19 – October 22, 2017 at the Cherry Lane Theatre. Click here for tickets and more information.

Scott Carter’s The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Count Leo Tolstoy: Suggested Reading

In hopes of shining a light on the weighty life questions put center stage in Scott Carter’s The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Count Leo Tolstoy, we’ve put together the following resources for further exploration of their relationships to legacy, philosophy, and religion. From lesser known works by the men themselves to sweeping adaptations of beloved stories, there’s hardly a medium that Dickens, Jefferson, or Tolstoy did not influence.


  • A Confession and Other Religious Writings by Leo Tolstoy: Tolstoy is best known for his novels, War and Peace and Anna Karenina, but this collection of his personal writings—on the likes of faith, freedom, and morality—is further testimony to the tireless mind of a man lauded as one of the greatest authors in history.
  • Jefferson’s Extracts from the Gospels by Dickinson W. Adams: Thomas Jefferson was unsatisfied with the authors of the four Gospels and the trustworthiness of their accounts, so he took it upon himself to literally extract the offending passages from his own copies of the New Testament. This volume is a compilation of Adams’ research into Jefferson’s Bible, and the definitive presentation of the president’s religious beliefs.
  • The Life of Our Lord by Charles Dickens: Written exclusively for his children, Dickens forbade the publication of this book so long as he or any of his children lived. Published 64 years after his death, Dickens’ The Life of Our Lord is a simple and endearing retelling of Jesus Christ’s life and became a bestseller in its first year of publication (1934).   

Film & TV

  • A Christmas Carol (1984): If you’ve ever wrinkled your nose at the holiday season, you’re likely to have been called a “Scrooge.” We have Dickens to thank for coining the term with his iconic Ebenezer Scrooge and the timeless (and oft adapted) story of a miser transformed by visits from the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come.
  • War and Peace (1966): Adaptations of Tolstoy’s epic have taken liberties with their sprawling source material, but Sergei Bondarchuk’s 1969 Academy Award-winning undertaking—some 7 hours on 3 discs—is as close to visualizing the text as you can get.


  • Thomas Jefferson (1997) by Ken Burns: The 3 part documentary by American filmmaker Ken Burns is an overview of both the public and the private face of the once president (and also writer, inventor, and architect). Academics and political figures discuss his life and legacy, as well as his relationship with his slave, Sally Hemings.
  • The Trouble with Tolstoy (2011) by Alan Yentob: Originally aired in two installments on the BBC, Alan Yentob’s documentary takes the viewer on a train ride through Tolstoy’s Russia. Featuring contributions from the author’s great great grandson and distinguished Russian commentators, it is a comprehensive overview of a singular and mercurial man.
  • Uncovering the Real Dickens (2003) by Peter Ackroyd: Presented by Peter Ackroyd for the BBC, this 3-disc set explores the best of times and the worst of times of the author, with the help of dramatic reconstruction. The additional material includes the 1999 adaptation of David Copperfield and A Christmas Carol as performed by Anton Lesser.


  • “Charles Dickens: Six Things He Gave the Modern World” by Alex Hudson: From shaping the portrayal of modern Christmas in our culture to his influence on cinema, Dickens’ work has a reach that transcends the page.
  • “Leo Tolstoy’s Poignant Letter to Gandhi on the Laws of Love” by Nathan Gelgud: It’s easy to overlook the fact that history’s most towering figures lived alongside equally formidable contemporaries and didn’t just exist in a vacuum by themselves. Take Tolstoy’s writings to Gandhi in the last years of the former’s life, where he expounds on his belief in love triumphing over force: “any employment of force is incompatible with love as the highest law of life, and that as soon as the use of force appears permissible even in a single case, the law itself is immediately negatived.” The letters in their entirety can be read here.
  • “Charlottesville: Why Jefferson Matters” by Annette Gordon-Reed: Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and author of The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, Annette Gordon-Reed, writes on Jefferson’s aspirations and paradoxes, and how they continue to underline the fragility of the American experiment.

The Primary Stages production of The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord runs until October 22, 2017 at the Cherry Lane Theatre. For tickets and additional information, please visit our website.