The scene: Chawton Great House, Hampshire, England — home of Jane Austen’s brother, Edward Austen Knight.
The time: December 1815, on the eve of the publication of Emma.
The plot: In the tradition of home theatricals held during her childhood at Steventon rectory, Jane Austen has prepared an entertainment for her family in which her siblings are to take part with her as performers. She expects to begin playing Mrs. Bennet (from Pride and Prejudice), to her brother James’s Mr. Bennet. But her family has played a trick on her: they have left Jane to tackle an unrehearsed solo performance. They provide her with a list of topics quizzing her on her life, her writing, and the inspiration behind her work. These serve as the springboard for a most enjoyable evening, filled with Jane’s pointed observations on her family, friends, suitors, and society, as well as her own hilarious early efforts as an author.
“…wonderfully funny…” - DJR Bruckner, The New York Times
Highlighting the best of Jane Austen’s works, Cheer From Chawton: A Jane Austen Family Theatrical underscores the legendary English novelist’s contributions to world literature (with novels possessing such quickness of wit and intuition that they have not been surpassed nearly two centuries after her death) and highlights her adventures as a “flirtatious butterfly” in rural England. Commencing with familiar, beloved dialogue from Pride and Prejudice, to hilarious selections from Austen’s juvenilia, to the touching portions from her personal letters, this lively interactive ‘home theatrical’ offers an overview of the best of her works.
The production has toured the country from Jane Austen Festivals in Louisville, Kentucky to the Daughters of the British Empire in Basking Ridge, NJ as well as at the Players Club in New York City and three performances in the UK. Sue Hughes, editor of Regency World Magazine, proclaimed it “the hit of the Jane Austen Festival in Bath” on BBC Radio, Scotland. Praise for Ms. Eterovich and the play have been enthusiastic and unanimous: “Her multiple, well-distinguished characterizations make this show truly engaging,” says Dr. Amy Smith, University of the Pacific, Stockton, CA. “A bright, witty, sparkling Jane!” writes Philip Horton in the Bath Chronicle.