Theatre department presents “Jane Eyre” SCE

By Miranda Parrish

Elm Staff Writer

The Washington College Department of Theatre and Dance performed a production of “Jane Eyre” in the Alonzo G. and Virginia Dent Decker Theatre on Friday, Nov. 11 and Saturday, Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m.  

The play adaptation of “Jane Eyre,” a novel by Charlotte Brontë, was put on by Elm Copy Editor senior Emma Russell as her Senior Capstone Experience. Tickets to the event were free to students, staff, faculty, and the greater Chestertown community. 

According to Russell, she had originally hoped to do an adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Emma,” but it did not pan out.

Theatre students begin working on their SCEs the first semester of their junior year. Then, the next semester, they take junior seminar and begin to write their thesis. 

Russell said she “came to the play a bit late” in the SCE process. 

“It’s a little different depending on the focus but everybody has to write five chapters, and in junior seminar you write the first three,” Russell said. “I came to ‘Jane Eyre’ near the end of my junior seminar and had to rewrite a lot of the previous work I had done on ‘Emma.’”

According to Russell, because the production doubled as a performance SCE, she focused primarily on what was occurring in Jane’s head during her most important decisions in the story. The play followed the plot of the novel, tracking Jane from her early days with her family, to the school where she later became a teacher, and to her time as a governess at Thornfield Hall. 

The production was put on by numerous volunteers and friends. As a theatre major, SCEs are very different from other majors to complete, as the process is very dependent upon others. 

“Not only did I have to write my SCE, but as producer I was also tasked with finding the production team,” Russell said. “As the lead actress and producer, I am required to be at pretty much everything, leaving me very busy, but it all guarantees that the show can match my vision.” 

According to Russell, the stage manager, director, and design team for the show were selected last semester. WC Theatre and Dance Production Manager Abbey Wark ’18 was chosen to direct the show. 

Auditions for the roles began at the start of this semester before the cast and crew jumped into rehearsals. 

Freshman Jenna Harper auditioned for a part in the play because she has “always wanted to participate in acting.”

Harper said that she loved having a student being the driving force behind the SCE.

“I enjoyed it very much and I didn’t notice any difference with Emma leading the play production [than an outside producer],” Harper said.

Since there were many roles in the play, a few actors played several parts.  

Sophomore Sam Steptoe, who played multiple roles including Mr. Brocklehurst, Mr. Mason, and Pilot, spontaneously decided to try out “acting this year” after taking an acting class. 

“As a first-time actor I had no clue what a production would look like, and I was excited to be a part of the team,” Steptoe said. “Everything was managed phenomenally by the managers and directors. Really, I couldn’t have asked for a better group to introduce me into acting.”

Other students who wish to get involved with the WC Theatre and Dance Department still have the opportunity. Three other SCE performances are planned for the spring semester, including “Grendel,” “Masculinity Max,” and “On the Verge.”

Photo courtesy of Emma Russell

Photo Caption: A majority of the cast of “Jane Eyre” played more than one role in the production.

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