Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mansfield Park: Lovers' Vows

Everyone is congregating in the room where the stage has been erected - formerly Sir Thomas' billiard room.

The green stage curtains remain shut. You spot Fanny on the sidelines attentive to someone backstage. Perhaps, Edmund with last minute instructions?

The anticipation for the show is evident in the room. Even Lady Bertram is looking wide awake with pug on her lap.

Lady Vee and her daughter, Faustina, look around curiously for Lady Violet and Lady Mary Ann. Are they late again?


It is time to take your seat. In the audience, where do you like to usually place yourself? And what do you see and hear as you wait for the curtains to finally be drawn?

Mrs White is handing out programs for this first showing.

side note:
Blanche White is the maid of the manor, whose pawn color is white, and isn’t exempt from any accusations. She’s got the common characteristics of an old biddy. She owns nothing to her name and takes her domestic duties very seriously. If it’s out of place, she better not know about it. -Mrs White bio




Frederick ~ Henry Crawford
Anhalt ~ Edmund Bertram
Baron Wildenhaim ~ Mr. Yates
Count Cassel ~ Mr. Rushworth
Verdun (Butler) ~ Tom Bertram

Agatha ~ Maria Bertram
Amelia ~ Mary Crawford
Cottager ~ Mrs. Grant

Lovers' Vows (1798), a play by Elizabeth Inchbald is one of at least four adaptations of August von Kotzebue's Das Kind der Liebe (1780; literally "Child of Love," or "Natural Son," as it is often translated), all of which were published between 1798 and 1800.

Inchbald's version is the only one to have been performed. Dealing as it does with sex outside marriage and illegitimate birth, Inchbald in the Preface to the published version declares herself to have been highly sensitive to the task of adapting the original German text for "an English audience." Even so, she left the setting as Germany.

Fanny's take:
The first use [Fanny] made of her solitude was to take up the volume [of "Lovers' Vows"] which had been left on the table, and begin to acquaint herself with the play of which she had heard so much. Her curiosity was all awake, and she ran through it with an eagerness which was suspended only by intervals of astonishment, that it could be chosen in the present instance—that it could be proposed and accepted in a private Theatre! Agatha and Amelia appeared to her in their different ways so totally improper for home representation—the situation of one, and the language of the other, so unfit to be expressed by any woman of modesty, that she could hardly suppose her cousins could be aware of what they were engaging in; and longed to have them roused as soon as possible by the remonstrance which Edmund would certainly make.
- Volume I, Chapter 14, last paragraph, page 137 [RWC/OUP]

Edmund's take:
Edmund's objections were that respectable ladies did not involve themselves in the theater. From the time of Shakespeare into our own century, the theater was not considered an appropriate place for a lady to earn her living, but a place for loose women. Another of his objections was to the plot of the play itself and the illicit act at the heart of it. His final objection was specific to Maria playing the role of Agatha. If Maria Bertram were to enact the part of Agatha, she would have to speak of her fiancé's betrayal and abandonment, as well as words such as: "Oh! oh! my son! I was intoxicated by the fervent caresses of a young, inexperienced, capricious man, and did not recover from the delirium till it was too late." If an engaged woman were to talk of the fervent caresses of her fiancé, even while acting a part, it could be considered quite improper.


Take a moment...

READ the play
READ the synopsis


* image source and description of Elizabeth Inchbald's Lovers' Vows

Out of the corner of your eye you spy: a pistol

and then, you hear a screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeam!

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Images from: Lovelytocu