Austentatious: comedy improv and Austen adaptation in the twenty-first century
Civale, S. 2018. Austentatious: comedy improv and Austen adaptation in the twenty-first century. Women's Writing. https://doi.org/10.1080/09699082.2018.1509832
Recent decades have seen Jane Austen move outside the classroom to assume a pop-culture presence through a proliferation of virtual, visual, and textual adaptations, spin-offs, sequels, mash-ups, and fan-fiction, along with websites, blogs, and merchandising.
Austentatious: An Improvised Jane Austen Novel, a one-hour comedy play performed in the style of Jane Austen, offers a new addition to Austen’s literary legacy. Since the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe, this improvisation troupe has been staging Austen’s “lost” works, by randomly drawing a title from a collection of audience suggestions, and launching directly into the action. Fast paced and hilarious, Austentatious blends narrative and gags, Regency and popular culture, “Austenspeak” and modern slang. Critics may regard it as another reductive appropriation, but, as this essay suggests, Austentatious marks a significant intervention in Austen’s afterlife. Both send-up and celebration, this improvised comedy trades in familiar tropes: feisty ladies, matchmaking relatives, and romantic entanglements. These clichés are played for laughs, but Austen is not the only target. Austentatious also lampoons the textually promiscuous nature of Austen adaptation, and the “free” treatment of Austen by academics. Austentatious parodies not only the original novels but the phenomenon of (Austen) adaptation itself—whether high-brow or low—in the twenty-first century. Finally, through a new kind of long-form improvisation, Austentatious demonstrates the critical and creative potential in this most irreverent recreation of Austen.
|Keywords||Jane Austen; afterlife; postmodern; adaptation; parody; comedy|
|Publisher||Taylor & Francis|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI)||https://doi.org/10.1080/09699082.2018.1509832|
|Online||08 Oct 2018|
|Publication process dates|
|Deposited||07 Dec 2017|
|Accepted||01 Aug 2017|
|Accepted author manuscript|
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