“Pride and Prejudice” will open on stage at UF on Nov. 7. The play, based on the novel by Jane Austin, transports the cast and crew back to the year 1813. Great care also has been taken, both on and off stage, to make sure the audience feels like they are in the year 1813.
“We like to do a classical piece at least every four years,” said Vicki McClurkin, theatre program and play director. “These students need to have exposure to a classical piece before they graduate from college. ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is certainly a classical piece.”
There are many renditions of this play, and scene directors have difficulty creating the many scenes of the story. UF will perform “Pride and Prejudice” adapted by Jon Jory, who created one classical set for the entire show.
“Everything is very representational,” said McClurkin. “He designed the costumes and set in classical design, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”
From head to toe, all cast members will wear detailed period costumes thanks to UF’s costume designer, Kathy Newel. Although the costumes for all UF theater productions are made in-house, Newel often can combine old costumes with new pieces.
This is not the case for “Pride and Prejudice.” All costumes, including two military uniforms, men’s suits, bonnets and 35 gowns have been designed from the ground up in Newel’s home.
“I will rent only if I have to,” said Newel. “It happens every once in awhile, a show where everything has to be made.”
Newel began designing in July and spent six weeks creating 12 hats and bonnets. She has spent seven days a week working about 14 hour days researching, traveling miles to buy the right fabric and putting the costume pieces together.
“Much of the fabric I use is reproduction fabric from the 1800s,” said Newel. “I’m not re-creating history; I’m creating a theatrical production.”
To design costumes representing the early 1800s, Newel has watched period films, read dressing and period books and had looked into Jane Austin societies.
The production includes 13 women filling 35 gowns and seven men filling eight suits. Men in the production do not change costume as much as the women, but a man’s single costume is just as time consuming as a woman’s entire wardrobe.
The play has very short transitions, requiring the women to wear one base gown, which creates a day dress, ball gown or public dress all in one with small pieces that change.
“I’m using patterns true to period, ” said Newel. “When you see a stage where the set doesn’t change, you have to change costumes. The whole point is for the audience to come in and see 1813 and not 2012.”
The production runs at 8 p.m. Nov. 7, 8, 9 and at 2 p.m. Nov. 10-11 in the Powell Grimm Theatre. Tickets are $5 for general admission and $3 for students and seniors. To reserve tickets, call the UF box office at 419-434-5335.