|Miss Mary Bennet (Autumn Bryson) shares a special bond|
with Lord Arthur De Bourg (D.J. Terry)
PHOTO by Paul Manoian
Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley is an imagined sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. This charming period piece is set in 1800s England at a time when all the English lords and ladies would most certainly be Caucasian. In the Farmington Players production, Lord Arthur De Bourg is played by D.J. Terry. D.J. describes his character as a “nerdy, quirky and standoffish Lord that enters a world of conflict that he has never imagined having to manage. What I enjoy most about playing Arthur is that he provides a reminder that others’ (even our family’s) expectations of us are not as important as our own decisions when creating paths for our lives.”
D.J. speaks candidly about managing the expectations of audiences, who might not be accustomed to seeing a black man in this role: “There is a slight discomfort I feel when people see it for the first time, and realize that this is set in England in the early 1800s and they must suspend disbelief to buy into my character. It makes me proud to have even been cast in the first place. However, it makes my mistakes shine brighter, being so easily spotted and that adds another layer of perfection to my desired performance.” While D.J. has some trepidation that some people may be uncomfortable with his race, “maybe being uncomfortable is where they have to be to see the very surface of how I might feel in the culture of this show, in the culture of this society, in the culture of this country.”
Feeling out of place is a common theme of this show. As Autumn Bryson says of her character Mary, “She often feels like the odd one out. Mary feels she is bound to a life of caring for her parents and is devastated at the thought of never experiencing the world.” But once Mary meets Arthur DeBourgh, “suddenly Mary has someone who shares her interests. Arthur takes Mary’s breath away with how similar they are, and Mary feels finally at home. Their connection is like no other.” D.J. echoes this bond, saying, “Mary seems to share Arthur’s appreciation for literature and science, so there is much to discuss between the two of them. As discussion deepens, true colors are revealed and an unexpected connection ensues.”
While theater still has a long way to go to become truly colorblind, times are changing. Hamilton broke barriers by casting people of color in historically white roles. And just last week, The Nutcracker opened at the New York City Ballet, and for the first time, an 11 year-old Black girl (Charlotte Nebres) will be playing the young heroine, Marie.
Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley has 9 performances at the Farmington Players Barn Theater from December 6 - 21. Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling the Barn box office at 248-553-2955.