FHU Theatre Presents
by Charlotte Bronte and William Luce
Black Box Theatre
September 17-20, 2020
Featuring Mariah Kerr as Charlotte Brontë
Setting: St. Michael and All Angels’ Parsonage, Haworth, Yorkshire, England
Time: June 21st, 1849
Length of intermission: 10 minutes
Director: Hannah Graves
Stage Manager: Courtney Willcut
Scenic Design: Marla Record
Lighting Design: Ryan Pickens
Sound Design: Brandyn Graves
Technical Director: Brandyn Graves
Master Carpenter: Kevin Graves
Props Master: Jessica Hixon
Set Crew - Collin Baker, Emily Perkins, Macy Matthews, Nate Cass, Lincoln Smith, JT Watford, Courtney Willcut, Spencer Hebert
Lighting Crew Head - Jon Michael Thompson
Lighting Crew - Sarah Bowen, Kaitlyn Moore, Jack Joiner
Lighting Board Operator - Isaiah Guess
House Manager:Shayli Studer and Sarah Bowen
Tickets: Beth Sanford and Joanna Andrick
Graphic Design: Bramblett Group
Costumes by DeWayne Costume Shop, Knoxville, TN.
Special Thanks: Debbie McLaughlin, Kristen Hicks, Rachel Irwin
Brontë is produced by special arrangement with Concord Theatricals on behalf of Samuel French, Inc. www.concordthearicals.com
Brontë is produced in partial completion of the requirements for the Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre Performance.
A Note from Maria Kerr
“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”
–Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
In 1836, when she was about 21 years old, Charlotte wrote to famous poet Robert Southey seeking writing critique and career advice. He wrote back that “Literature cannot be the business of a woman’s life: and it ought not to be.” She marked the reply “Southey’s Advice—To be kept forever.”
There were a lot of things out of Charlotte Brontë’s control. Despite her brilliance, she was born a woman in Victorian England, which held prejudice against women writers and artists. Her mother died when she was five, and her two oldest sisters died when she was eight. However, with an imagination as vast as the moors behind the parsonage where she grew up, Charlotte lived and thrived in the solace of words. Together, the Brontë sisters—Charlotte, Emily, and Anne—along with their brother, Branwell, wrote stories and created worlds in which they dwelt throughout childhood.
In the eyes of Victorian England, that was all writing could ever be for Charlotte—childish games. Charlotte kept writing anyway. She convinced her sisters to join her in publishing a book of poems under male pseudonyms: Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. The book only sold two copies. Undaunted, the sisters submitted their own novels for publication. Emily and Anne’s books were accepted—Charlotte’s was not. But in 1847, as she watched over her father who was recovering from eye surgery, Charlotte wrote Jane Eyre. It took London by storm.
Everyone was intrigued by the mysterious Bell brothers and their passionate, scandalous novels (for the era’s standards). Their fortune was not to last. At the height of their fame, calamity struck the Brontës. Starting in September 1848, Branwell, Emily, and Anne died in the span of eight months.
It’s here that we meet Charlotte, isolated in the parsonage with her ailing father, haunted by the once-happy presence of her lost siblings. She struggles with grief, loneliness, and fear for the future.
Charlotte’s life was a rollercoaster of loss and rejection. However, she leaned on her family and support network to produce classic works of literature. She used with the talents and resources she had to create a solace of her own design.
Likewise, in today’s world we also struggle with a world turned upside down. There are many things out of our control. However, if we focus on what we can control while we lean on and support our own loved ones, there is hope for a better tomorrow.
Mariah Kerr is a senior theatre performance and marketing major from Jackson, Tennessee. Among several FHU productions, she is grateful to have played played Anne in The Diary of Anne Frank, Bianca in Taming of the Shrew, and one of the ensemble of one of her favorite FHU shows, Alice! She would like to thank Hannah for directing her, all of the talented artistic team for helping her create this play, and her family for supporting her all these years. In her spare time, she likes to crochet whimsical blankets and stuffed animals. She welcomes you into the parsonage parlor and is thrilled to chat with you today!
Hannah Graves is a 2012 graduate of Freed-Hardeman University. Although she was an English major, she enjoyed taking part in various theatre productions as a student. Her favorite acting credits include Macbeth and The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940. As an alumni, she is grateful to have directed Eleemosynary and last year’s alumni production of 12 Angry Jurors. She currently teaches English at Bolivar Central High School and lives in Henderson with her awesome husband and adorable one-year-old son. She is so grateful to Mariah for giving her the opportunity to direct once again!
Courtney Willcut is a sophomore at FHU, majoring in theatre performance. She’s performed at FHU in As It Is In Heaven, as well as stage managing Alice! She was the assistant stage manager for Book of Will before COVID-19 killed it. RIP. Courtney grew up performing in her community theatre. Her favorite colors are blue, green, and black, and her Hogwarts house is Slytherin. Her favorite Charlotte Bronte quote is “I’ll borrow of imagination what reality will not give me.”
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