Stacy Becker and Caitlin Dolan, residents of Wauwatosa, play crucial roles in the crisp, vibrant retelling of Jane Austen’s comic masterpiece, Emma. Becker serves as the production’s director, and Dolan, in her Acacia Theatre debut, plays Jane Fairfax. All the action takes place while matchmaker Emma Woodhouse takes on a new “project” – her friend Harriet. Jon Jory’s adaptation of the classic novel portrays 19th century girls as they journey through romances and friendships, and eventually become increasingly aware of their own strengths.
Adapting a novel to stage can pose challenges, but Dolan says, “I love that Emma has been interpreted into a live drama. It’s one thing to read the story or watch an adaptation on film, but to see the story told in front of you lets the audience understand and appreciate the story on a whole new level.”
Dolan admits, “When I first read the book, I was very turned off by Emma. I found her to be meddlesome and ignorant. But the more familiar I become with the material, I understood that she is truly ‘doomed to blindness.’ She has good intentions and cares for those around her, despite the fact that the right answer or the appropriate response is not always apparent to her.”
According to Stacy Becker, the play’s director, the dramatic version of Emma delivers vibrant performances filled with relevant themes for today’s audiences. Becker explained, “Emma is a great piece of classic literature, and it really isn't stuffy or old-fashioned in its themes, even though it might seem so in its mannerisms. It is very easy to relate to and is a very enjoyable show.”
“Emma's belief that she can influence and control the people around her is not unusual. The fact that she approaches things from a very altruistic point of view doesn't change the reality that she is trying to manipulate people. She gradually realizes that even though she had good intentions, she can hurt people. People can relate to Emma,” said Becker.
“Jane Austen can be quite daunting to some readers. A live drama version can introduce new people to her and her works, and inspire them to pick up the book,” added Becker.
The play brings Harriet and Emma, two young women seeking love, companionship and friendship, to modern audiences. Determined to find an impressive suitor in spite of Harriet’s lack of social standing, Emma becomes entangled in the romantic lives of her friends and acquaintances. Will she unwittingly find herself the victim of her own best intentions? Or will she ultimately journey from foolishness to maturity, learning the greater value of transformation of self over changing others? These timeless questions unfold dramatically in this production.
Acacia Theatre Company will perform the play July 15 through July 24 in Concordia University Wisconsin’s Todd Wehr Auditorium, 12800 North Lake Shore Drive in Mequon, Wis.
Performance Schedule and Ticket Information
Performances will be given at 8 p.m. on July 15, 8 p.m. on July 16, 3 p.m. on July 17, 8 p.m. on July 21, 8 p.m. on July 22, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on July 23 and 3 p.m. on July 24.
Tickets will be available by calling (414) 744-5995 or at www.acaciatheatre.com. Tickets will cost $16, or $13 for senior citizens, full-time students and full-time clergy. Group (10+) discounts are available.
About Acacia Theatre Company
Founded in 1980, Acacia Theatre Company is an independent, non-profit, interdenominational group of dramatic artists who share a common desire to integrate art and faith by presenting theatre from a Judeo-Christian worldview. Through uplifting, quality entertainment, Acacia provides occasion for thanksgiving, growth and enjoyment, and the opportunity for Christians and non-Christians to consider their lives in relation to God. More information is available at www.acaciatheatre.com.
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Caption for photo: Jennifer Gaul, Mike Lawson, Shannon Tyburski, Philip Birdener, Sharon Nieman-Koebert, David W. Eggebrecht appear in Acacia Theatre's "Emma."
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