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Of Jane Austen's full-length novels, Mansfield Park deals most directly with theatrical subjects, yet it is the least frequently adapted for the stage. Plots, themes, and characters in the novel echo those of the popular late eighteenth century play Lovers' Vows, and the first volume includes a performance of that play as part of a "home theatrical." ·In 2011, I completed a workshop adaptation and staging of Mansfield Park. I used the method of Chamber Theatre founded by Robert Breen, a technique of literary adaptation that retains the narrative voice by use of an embodied narrative and assignment of narrative passages to characters in direct address with the audience. A physical enactment of the relationship of the narrator to the central figure of Fanny Price revealed a dramatic component at the heart of the narrative point of view and in progression. This method illuminated a performance-based structure to the novel and rendered it remarkably well-suited to theatrical adaptation.




From Text & Presentation, 2012. Edited by Graley Herren by permission of McFarland & Company, Inc., Box 611, Jefferson NC 28640.

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