Programme for the Bronte Sisters Festival revealed at Scarborough's Stephen Joseph Theatre - includes staging of Jane Eyre, talks and audio walk

A festival of events including an audio walk, two shows, films and talks at Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre next month will celebrate Yorkshire’s literary sisters Anne, Charlotte and Emily Brontë.

By Sue Wilkinson
Friday, 4th March 2022, 12:42 pm
Emma Swan, Claire-Marie Seddon and Sophia Hatfield in I Am No Bird which will be staged at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough
Emma Swan, Claire-Marie Seddon and Sophia Hatfield in I Am No Bird which will be staged at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough

At the centre of the festival is the theatre’s production of a new adaptation of Charlotte’s Jane Eyre, adapted by Chris Bush.

Festival Director Lisa Cagnacci said: “The story of the Brontës is a remarkable one – three sisters, each of whom are considered to be amongst this country’s greatest novelists.

“They have a strong Scarborough connection – Anne died and is buried here – and the Stephen Joseph has long wanted to celebrate that. We hope that people will enjoy this opportunity to look at all the fascinating aspects of their lives.”

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April’s Brontë Festival events include:

Jane Eyre: A Stephen Joseph and New Vic Theatre co-production, this witty and fleet-footed adaptation seeks to present Jane Eyre to a fresh audience while staying entirely true to the original's revolutionary spirit. Using actor-musicians, playful multi-roling and a host of 19th century pop hits, this is an accessible new version of a literary masterpiece.

Adapted by Chris Bush (Standing at the Sky’s Edge), it’s directed by Zoë Waterman.

Friday April 8 to Saturday April 30.

I Am No Bird: Stute Theatre, in association with the Stephen Joseph and the Brontë Parsonage Museum brings you the best-known, most-loved family of writers in English literature.

But… how to tell their story? A historical adaptation complete with bonnets, bustles and books? A creative revolution on the isolated moors? Or a fast-paced flurry of spoken words and ideas?

With live looped spoken word, soaring vocal harmonies and an unexpected twist; this modern adaptation shines a new light on the artistry and resilience of three remarkable Yorkshire women.

Written by Sophia Hatfield and Lisa Cagnacci, with music by Sophia Hatfield, directed by Lisa Cagnacci, designed by Sophia Simensky and musical direction by Farhaan Shah, I Am No Bird features Sophia Hatfield, Claire-Marie Seddon and Emma Swan as the Brontë sisters.

Wednesday April 27 to Saturday April 30 at 7.45pm, plus Thursday April 28 at 1.45pm and Saturday April 30 at 2.45pm. Tickets from £10.

Audio walk: Anne Brontë loved Scarborough – discover the town in a whole new way by following in her footsteps with this audio walk, which will guide you around Scarborough as it was in the 1840s and show you Anne’s favourite landmarks. You will also enjoy a dramatised scene from Anne’s novel Agnes Grey.

From April 8 until autumn: £3 until April 30, then £5, plus a £5 refundable deposit for the MP3 player.

Talks: three talks about varying aspects of the sisters’ lives and work:

Charlotte Brontë: Afterlives of a Modern Woman

Speaker Sassy Holmes from the Brontë Parsonage Museum looks into the gifts that Charlotte Brontë gave us and what makes them the gifts that keep on giving.

Thursday April 14 at 6pm. Tickets £5.

Charlotte Brontë and the Educational Earthquake

Popular local speaker Tim Tubbs gives this talk and said: “Like Jane Eyre and so many other characters in their novels, the Brontës' only career option was school-teaching or ‘governessing’, their experiences of which crucially informed their writing.”

Tuesday April 19 at 1.45pm. Tickets £5.

Shocked, Disgusted, Almost Sickened: The Brontës’ Worst Reviews

Although the Brontës’ novels were massively successful in their own lifetimes, they also got more than their fair share of terrible reviews! Discover some of the worst, with a discussion from bestselling novelist Rowan Coleman, who (as Bella Ellis) writes the Brontë Mysteries, about why these groundbreaking works might have got some critics quite so upset.

Friday April 22at 6pm. Tickets £5.

Brontë Babies

Led by actor Sarah Pearman. Bring your little ones along to our sensory creative play session with songs, rhyme, movement and music taking inspiration from the Brontës. In these fun and lively sessions little ones and grown ups will explore, imagine and play.

Saturday April 23cat 10am (for babies aged 0 to 18 months) and 11.30am (18 months to three years).

£5 for a parent/guardian/carer and child

To book tickets for any of the Brontë Festival events, including, Jane Eyre, please the box office on 01723 370541 or in person, or visit www.sjt.uk.com