Aimee Olivia writes to Em about finding permission to be vulnerable and imperfect through playing Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice.
I honestly have been struggling to write how Elizabeth changed my life, how unexpected to me, I would play one of the most delightful characters in English literature. Even when I look at a photo, I am still in shock that our Director Terry Hooper asked me to take on such a task, to play Elizabeth Bennet in Jon Jory stage version of Pride & Prejudice.
After I bashfully said yes, I knew I was about to climb the biggest mountain in my life, that as an actress I would have to put my heart and soul into playing Elizabeth.
A woman so complex that she had the courage to speak the truth of her heart, who stood tall when society belittled her and was even brave enough to admit to herself that she has made many mistakes. I had to open up to play the deep and ugly truth of her personality so her lovable goodness would shine ever so bright, and help the audience to fall in love with the importance of why Jane Austen wrote such a strong female character.
To play someone that real, who is so self-aware and understand who she is as a woman, gave me great anxiety. I put so much pressure on myself, I failed, I cried, I didn’t believe I was worthy myself and I honestly wanted to give up.
When I felt like I wanted to give up, my fellow cast gave me so much support and my director became my rock after many late and long phone calls. I gave myself permission to cry, allow the tears and to feel my emotions something I’ve learnt to do over the years.
But mostly, I’d talk to the little girl inside, I wrote to her and asked her how she was feeling, then I would answer with love and support. Because we forget that we all have an inner child that needs us to protect them and be their hero.
And of course Elizabeth became my role model because she isn't perfect. Playing Elizabeth gave me the permission to be my heart, to be a strong minded woman, to make mistakes, to fail, to laugh, and say this is who I am, I am worthy of my own love, I am worthy to be loved.
I wanted to share my experience playing Elizabeth. So women of any age might read Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, and look past the love story we all know, and see the heroin that Elizabeth is, and maybe, just maybe, through the art of storytelling, it might give woman permission to stand tall, be imperfect, and live life via their wild hearts.
If you’re keen to check out some Jane Austen for yourself, The Acting Collective will return in February 2017 with their production of Jane Austen’s Persuasion and another season of Pride & Prejudice later in 2017.
You can follow them on their Facebook page to find out when tickets are available!