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 fourth and final part in a series of interviews with cast members and designers whose work you will see when you see the show.
TED BUSHMAN, MR. DARCY, BYU STUDENT
“Mr. Darcy is a man of whom very little wrong can be said.”
Ted is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he grew up with one brother and three sisters.
Ted shared with us the journey he has taken as an artist creating the role of Mr. Darcy for this production. He said it began when he worked with Melissa Leilani Larson, the playwright, in the workshop of this play during fall semester, 2012. Ted recalls this as a delightful time. He read Darcy for the workshop from the beginning because, he says, “I was the solemnest jerk in the class.” Ted describes watching the script grow as a wonderful process. For creating the character Ted said, “I had read the book in high school but had never seen any of the films, so I just brought to Darcy what I thought would work. I think Mel’s Mr. Darcy has always been a little funnier, a little more likely to keep a little hidden smile, and also very emotional despite his facade of complete indifference. I’ve enjoyed bringing myself to the character and working with Mel to make something interesting.”
Ted told us that the other part of the journey took place in rehearsals. “Trust is the key to a good acting relationship, and working with Karli [Karli Hall, who plays Elizabeth Bennet] is a joy because we are such good friends. She and I have become very classical actors in the last year; we played Brutus and Portia in Julius Caesar for Conservatory, which Barta also directed. I think both of us have a deep love of language. In an early rehearsal, Barta told us that we were machine gun-mouthing it too much, just spitting out the language and not taking time to savor it. We’ve worked together on really attempting to embody these extremely famous characters as ourselves, and I think we’ve succeeded.”
We asked Ted if it’s always been acting for him. “I wanted to act from a young age,” he said. “My siblings were all younger and more adorable than me, and so in order to get my parents’ attention I would make puppet shows, or draw out stories, and just try and get them to listen to what I had to say. My mother put me in a choir, which I hated and eventually led to me studying Musical Theater, which I love.” Ted also read every book about dragons he could find in the library, and moved on to other types of literature. He writes plays now, composes music, and continues to love acting.
For Ted, part of the message of the play is an affirmation that things can work out in relationships, and that they don’t have to work out in the way expected or in accordance with societal norms. “Everybody says the message of Pride and Prejudice is about first impressions. I don’t think that, though, or at least that’s not the message that draws me. Mr. Darcy and Lizzie are a match for each other intellectually and socially, despite what others say.”
KARLI HALL, ELIZABETH BENNET, BYU STUDENT
“She has a wit that both disarms and pleases…I may find myself in some certain danger.”
Karli is from Seattle, Washington and is a senior in BYU’s Acting Program. “I’m the youngest of five daughters so Pride and Prejudice has always occupied a special place in the hearts of my family members, as the Bennets share that with us. The love and gratitude I have for my family defies the description of human language and has opened my heart up to everything that matters most. It is truly because of them that I’m at BYU right now, pursuing my deepest passion.”
We asked Karli if it’s always been acting for her. “Since I was a young child, I’ve always been performing and entertaining my family members with songs, jokes, and home movies.” It wasn’t until high school that she began considering acting as something that she might continue doing throughout her life. “I left my few years in the drama club with a new burning pursuit that I took with me to BYU. I knew right away when I got here and took my first theatre class that this was something I wanted and was supposed to be doing, and that BYU was the place I should be.”
Karli shared with us that while she has always loved the theatre, her plans to continue acting outside of university primarily center on film work. “I’ve always been interested in film acting and am grateful that BYU has such a solid film program.”
Some of Karli’s interests include reading, baking, rock climbing, biking, and expanding her love for music, especially played on lo-fi technology. “A record player stands as one of my most cherished domestic features.” Most of all, she loves spending time with the people she love. “I need them more than I need anything, and I only hope I can give as much support as they’ve given me, especially my husband, who has been the foundation for me amid the storms of the past two semesters. He is truly my Mr. Darcy.”
Be sure to get your tickets soon; the show is almost sold out!
Special matinee performance Monday, March 31st at 4pm.