Lives of loves of English sisters comes to Macon stage with humor for all

Ansley Selman and Katie Trotter play sisters Elinor and Marianne Dashwood in Theatre Macon’s modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility.”
Ansley Selman and Katie Trotter play sisters Elinor and Marianne Dashwood in Theatre Macon’s modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility.” Special to The Telegraph

The sisters’ story was first told in 1811 when Jane Austen published “Sense and Sensibility.”

The tale of the Dashwood girls’ loves, fortunes and misfortunes is a literal classic, of course, and in modern terms thought of as a front running “chick-flick” of literature. But deeper, critics praise Austen’s fiction not only as the telling of a good tale but for its wit and insight in pulling the sheets off varied societal conventions of her day.

Kate Hamill’s stage adaptation of the work opens Friday at Theatre Macon and artistic director Richard Frazier said the new play does the same for today.

“Don’t get me wrong,” he said. “Those who love the book won’t be disappointed. Hamill is very faithful to the book, the story, the period and the language but she adds a modern tone and updates the humor. Those who read Austen’s works when she wrote them understood her humor, those who see Hamill’s work on stage will appreciate hers. It’s really funny but keeps the same heart as the original. Hamill’s adaptation is very fresh and contemporary.”

Frazier said part of the contemporary feel comes from Hamill making her work very fast paced which translates into the production having a very cinematic sensibility. He said it’s refreshing but it’s “moving like a movie” adds challenges for actors and crew.

“It’s one of the most challenging things about this script,” he said. “There are 22 vignettes with their transitions that make up the first act. It’s tricky to manage but each is choreographed to add to the story and what’s happening. The sets aren’t literal in a customary sense but done sparsely with furniture. The trick is handling it elegantly so the story is still being told through the transitions. A group of actors in the play is called The Gossips and they play multiple characters, help create mood and aid in the transition flow. It’s really interesting. But, of course, for actors, there’s a lot more to remember as far as where to be when and how to get there. It’s a lot of scenes, a lot of work, but this cast has been a dream to work with. They’re nailing it. I think even those who don’t consider themselves Jane Austen fans will find a lot to like about it.”

According to her website at www.kate-hamill.com, Hamill was among the top five most-produced playwrights nationally in 2018-2019. The actor/playwright has adapted numerous classic works for the stage, including other Austen works, and is at work on adaptations of “The Odyssey” and “The Scarlet Letter” as well as original plays.

Contact Michael W. Pannell at mwpannell@gmail.com. 

“Sense and Sensibility”

Where: Theatre Macon, 438 Cherry St.

When: 8 p.m. Jan. 25-26 and Feb. 1-2; 2:30 p.m. Jan. 27, Feb.3; 7:30 p.m. Jan. 31

Cost: $25 adults, $20 seniors, $15 students

Information: www.theatremacon.com, 478-746-9485