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Reimagining Jane

Julie Chernoff | November 8, 2016 | Feature Features National

Northwestern University professor and celebrated theater director Jessica Thebus directs Northlight Theatre's holiday offering, Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, an imagined sequel to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.
Jessica Thebus is also an associate professor at Northwestern University, where she teaches directing.

What was the genesis behind this world-premiere production?
It’s a play by Margot Melcon and Lauren Gunderson. Northlight’s artistic director, BJ Jones, gave me the script, and I was very intrigued and delighted by it. I loved the idea of kind of a feminist dialogue with Pride and Prejudice, and the idea of Mary Bennet getting her own story.

What can Austen fanatics expect?
It’s a Christmas play. I’m an Austen fan, and this is in no way a serious sequel to Pride and Prejudice. It’s a delightful celebration of the characters we love. It asks the question, ‘What would be possible for these characters if we were to spend a little more time with them?’ There’s a very humorous wink in it. The playwrights are Austen fans, just like the rest of us!

What’s your personal connection to the holiday season?
I love holidays. I grew up in different countries around the world, so it was always a big deal in my family, the transformation of space for the spirit of the holidays. That’s always been moving and exciting to me. I’m delighted by the opportunity to create a play about peace within a family and the possibility for a character to move forward in unexpected and delightful ways. Nov. 10–Dec. 18, tickets $15-$70, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, 847.673.6300,


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