For anyone not in the know, Book-It Repertory Theater is a Seattle theater company that focuses exclusively on adapting written work to the stage. In the more-than-20 years since its founding, Book-It has put on over 60 world premier adaptations, many of which have gone on to tour at other theaters around the country.
Book-It has a unique style of adaptation. The actors actually speak lines of prose lifted directly from the original work. At first, this sounds like it might be a little awkward, but in practice it works beautifully because it preserves the original language of a book. In Book-It’s production of Great Expectations last February, one of the most memorable parts of the show was when Pip described a card game he was playing as he slammed the cards down.
Now, with direction by Makaela Pollock and adaptation by Jen Taylor, Book-It is putting on a production of Jane Austin’s first published novel, Sense and Sensibility. First published in 1811, this classic work has been adapted for film and television many times, but never before on the stage. Book-It has mounted adaptations of other Jane Austin stories before, and now they are going back to where it all started.
As fans of the book are no doubt aware, ‘sensibilities’ used to have a different meaning. Back in the early 1800s, it was used the way ‘sensitivities’ might be used today. Thus is born the story’s duality: whether it is better to have good sense, or display the emotional ‘sensibilities’ popular at the time. Clearly this story still speaks to audiences, as Sense and Sensibility is a top seller worldwide.
Book-It’s Sense and Sensibility starts its run on May 25, with performances through June 26, at Central House Theater. Tickets are available here. Book-It’s past shows speak for themselves; and if this one is good, then it will indeed be something to see.