To commemorate the 200th death anniversary of Jane Austen on Saturday, the Times Bengaluru Litfest, presented by ACT Fibernet, had Arundhati Raja, Jagadish Raja, Rebecca Sturgeon and Ashvin Mathew from Jagriti perform a dramatic reading of Pride and Prejudice.
Before the session began, they asked members of the audience to come up closer to the stage, promising that it wouldn’t be one of those super-interactive theatre sessions where they make people in the audience say and do things.
They kicked off the session with a few facts about Austen, and read out fun excerpts from letters she wrote to her beloved sister, Cassandra (“my dear Cassandra” is the phrase Austen has written the most times). When the sisters were apart, these letters served as a lifeline between them, and while most of the letters Cassandra to Austen wrote have been destroyed, most of Austen’s letters to Cassandra have been preserved. My favourite quote of the lot was “I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal”.
Pointing out that Austen was loved by academics and general public alike, they said that her books have been read by more people than the Bible. They mentioned her tongue-in-cheek humour, her posthumous fame, and also briefly touched upon her love affair with Tom Lefroy before getting into the dramatic reading. The three excerpts from Pride and Prejudice were a conversation between Mr Bennet and Lady Catherine, a conversation between Lady Catherine and Elizabeth, and of course, one between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.
By the way, we were live-tweeting throughout the session. Here’s the best of our coverage: