By Anne Flinders
“It’s a distinct pleasure to make your acquaintance.”
Brigham Young University’s world premiere production of Melissa Leilani Larson’s adaptation of Pride and Prejudice opens this week. Coinciding with opening weekend, we want to introduce you to some of the people behind the scenes and on the stage of this exciting new play. Following is the third part in a series of interviews with cast members and designers whose work you will see when you see the show.
REBEKAH SILVER JACKSON, ASSISTANT COSTUME DESIGNER, BYU STUDENT
“Oh, Miss Bennet. That is such a lovely color on you.”
Rebekah is from Mapleton, Utah where she spent much of her time hiking, horseback riding, sewing and crafting. She says she always wanted to attend BYU. She is a Theatre Art Studies major with Costume Design as her emphasis. The extent of her theatre experience before attending BYU was a small play in sixth grade!
This is Rebekah’s first time assisting or designing for a show. She says, “I have learned a lot from Melanie Lamb, the costume designer, as we worked through the research, concept, sketches, final designs, shopping and fittings together. It has been particularly fun to work on the costumes of the Bennet sisters, as I have my own four sisters who remind me of them sometimes!”
To Rebekah, an important message in the play is how Jane Austen shows how family can be one’s best support in difficult times. “The important thing that we learn from Elizabeth’s example is that while she does not condone some of her family’s actions, she never abandons them and continues to love them throughout the play. She remains a friend with them all, and learns from both the good and bad of their decisions.
ALLYSON THAXTON, GEORGIANA DARCY/HILL, BYU STUDENT
“How I long to see Miss Darcy again! Such a countenance, such manners.”
Allyson comes from a military family from San Antonio, Texas. As a family tradition and desire, BYU was her number one choice for college. Besides her interest in theatre, there are other activities Allyson enjoys as well. “I am a member of the BYU Ballroom Dance Company; I love to compete and perform in that. I also enjoy interior design, especially in homes.”
Allyson told us that she loves the book Pride and Prejudice, so it was a natural choice for her to audition. “I was excited when I got in, but it has been difficult to be a character without any spoken lines, especially since I had quite a few in the last main stage I was in.” Allyson says, “I have had to learn to love my roles because they are the extra little details that make the play. Consequently I have enjoyed exploring my two characters and their thoughts and feelings regarding other characters [in the play].”
The message Allyson hopes to share through BYU’s production of Pride and Prejudice is that sometimes the road to gaining true love can be difficult. There will be trials and bumps thrown in the way. “But despite this, love can overcome anything if it is set with the right mind and attitude, setting aside our differences and prideful attributes.”
LOGAN HAYDEN, COLONEL FITZWILLIAM, ASSISTANT LIGHTING DESIGNER, ASSISTANT SCENIC DESIGNER, BYU STUDENT
“We have already met, oh, so many fine-looking officers.”
Logan Hayden, clearly a jack-of-all-theatre-trades, is from Arbon, Idaho. In choosing to come to BYU, Logan said, “My dad and all his siblings attended BYU years ago, but all of my five siblings went other places. [Eventually], however, they were all lead to the promised land of BYU. (Well, all but one traitor who did his grad school at the U, but we try to not speak of him.) I attended BYU-I, and served a mission in Oaxaca, Mexico.
When I returned to school, my brother who was attending BYU and I would tease each other about which was the “true” church school. One day I was reading my weekly emails and Austin teased me about taking care that our sister Chelsea not get to me; that she was going to try to convince me to move down so we could all be close. I let out a few hearty laughs but the 3rd or 4th got caught in my throat as I thought, “Wait… Why don’t I transfer?” A week later after prayer & pondering, I decided to make the switcheroo. And that is the epic tale of how this Arbon-ite Idahoan ended up in the Happy Valley!”
KRISTIN PERKINS, CAROLINE BINGLEY, BYU STUDENT
“I sense an invasion.”
We asked Kristin if it’s always been acting for her. “My mom put me in a YMCA theatre camp when I was really young with the logic that it would somehow help me get over my shyness. I’m not sure it did but I did find a passion in creating stories and forming characters. I figure it is for similar reasons that I have always enjoyed reading and writing. As a child I ran around the backyard with a stick pretending to be an elf, and last year I was published in Inscape, BYU’s journal for literature and art, with a short story. My current pursuits in writing and art don’t seem all that different.”
Kristin told us that playing Caroline Bingley has been a really exciting opportunity for her. “She is different from me in many ways, but underneath the layers and layers of pretense Caroline puts on there is an insecure woman capable of loving and hurting.”
When we asked her what she felt the message she wants to convey through this production is, Kristin shared this with us: “For me that awareness [of Caroline’s insecurities] has been the theme and thesis in my journey through Pride and Prejudice: that relationships require a give, a take and, most importantly, a risk. As misinformed and ill-conceived as Caroline’s attempts to pursue Mr. Darcy are, there is still vulnerability in her desire and that is something I truly believe everyone in the audience can relate to. This is where I found my connection to the character and to the story. Investing in another person is often scary and confusing, and inherently puts us in a position of being unprotected, even exposed. Sometimes it works out, like for Elizabeth and Darcy, and sometimes it doesn’t, like for Caroline, but there is always something beautiful in the attempt to connect.”
Be sure to get your tickets soon; they are going fast!