“Jane Eyre” is a classic story of mystery and romance and is coming to the theatre stage at Cedarville University on Thursday, Sept. 29. Written by Charlotte Brönte and adapted by Christina Colvit, the story follows the life of an orphan named Jane Eyre who must stand for her faith and her morals while overcoming her challenging past and finding her way in the midst of upper class privilege and societal expectations in nineteenth century England.
Alana Perry, a senior double major in theatre and English, will be playing the lead role Jane Eyre. She shared she has read the novel several times, and described “Jane Eyre” as a multifaceted story with unexpected humor, complicated characters and something for everyone to enjoy. She hopes the audience will come away encouraged by a heroine who is willing to put forgiveness and doing what is right before fitting in with society’s expectations. Jane’s decisions to hold to her values and to forgive when she has been hurt speaks to today’s follow-your-heart society, and the redemption and forgiveness illustrated by both her and Rochester’s actions are still bringing hope today.
According to Nathan Robertson, a sophomore broadcasting and digital media major who plays Edward Rochester, the independence and moral uprightness of Jane Eyre has a special influence on his character.
“Rochester, has always seen women as [doing] what society says, and so he meets this girl who doesn’t follow those standards, and it’s a very eye-opening experience for him,” Robertson said.
The two main characters also share similarities in overcoming their pasts which is another main theme of the story.
“[There is] this kind of idea of how our past makes us who we are, and how even though that’s true, we can’t focus on the past. We have to keep moving forward,” Robertson said. “Throughout the play there are different memories that you see, and so I think that even in Rochester his past life very much dictates who he is and the decisions that he makes, and he has to learn to move forward from that just as Jane does.”
Perry shared that Jane Eyre is a complicated character who has been portrayed several different ways on film and in other media, and she was challenged through the rehearsal process to stay true to character while bringing originality to the role. She was also influenced, she said, through interacting with and responding to Robertson and the other cast members as they discovered their characters as well. Robertson is also familiar with the book and has learned through the rehearsal process to look beyond memorizing the lines in order to bring the well-known Mr. Rochester to life.
Katie Gilbert, a theatre performance major and the stage manager of the show, also commented on the cast interactions.
“I’m really blessed to be part of a show where the whole cast gels really well—they all fit their characters so well,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert went on to share some of the challenges associated with bringing a period story alive on stage, such as maneuvering in corsets and hooped skirts, and keeping the customs of the time period in mind while blocking. She also mentioned the stage lighting, which has been designed by senior theatre design major Megan Howell. While the set itself is minimalistic and the costumes are comprised of muted colors to reflect the time period and setting,
the lighting “really brings it all to life,” Gilbert explained. “There are purples, and ambers and [the lighting] gives the ghostly gothic novel feel.”
She also is looking forward to the audience experiencing the depth and variety of characters found in the large cast and what they bring to the story.
“Jane Eyre” is a timeless story of mystery, love and redemption told in a gothic, nineteenth-century English setting, and the play will run from Sept. 29 to Oct. 9. Tickets can be purchased at the Stevens Student Center information desk by calling 937-766-7787 or by going online to cedarville.edu/ticketinfo.
Kellyn Post is a sophomore English major and an Arts and Entertainment writer for Cedars. She is happiest when drinking tea, listening to music, and reading old books.