Rebecca revived and reimagined

If you would like to sponser us please contact us
Rebecca revived and reimagined

Rebecca revived and reimagined

Posted: 10 May 2015

Ground-breaking production company Kneehigh returns to Newcastle Theatre Royal from 11-16 May with an adaptation of the world-famous and much-loved classic novel Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. Her son Kits Browning talks about growing up knowing his mother was a household name and how he feels about this new adaptation of her most famous novel.

Interview by Al Senter:

By any standards Rebecca is a classic of popular literature. It continues to do a brisk trade and it has reportedly never been out of print since it was published in 1938. But as Kits Browning, the son of Rebecca author Daphne du Maurier, points out, Rebecca’s popularity doesn’t mean that any adaptation of the book should be reverential, preserving the book in aspic.

He said: “After so many years, I believe that a new approach is called for and you have to turn Rebecca on its head slightly. I think that it’s due for another go and it looks as if Kneehigh are the people to give Rebecca a very contemporary production.

“I think that it’s a damned good story. My mother would get very cross when people called Rebecca a romance, although she did concede that Frenchman’s Creek, another of her books, was a romance. I think that she didn’t want her work to be compared with the kind of books somebody like Barbara Cartland was writing because hers was a very different genre. Even today, people find it hard to square the author of Rebecca with the person who wrote The Birds or Don’t Look Now.”

However you describe it, Rebecca brought worldwide fame to Daphne du Maurier who apparently had mixed feelings about such attention. Kit said: “I remember that the American Navy – or the part of it that had been stationed nearby at Fowey- turned up one day. My mother hid on the roof and sent my sister Tessa down to tell them that she was away and that we had no idea when she would be back.

“She also would get annoyed when she’d give an interview about her new book to a reporter from an American magazine like The Ladies’ Home Journal and all they wanted to talk about was Rebecca. However, Daphne took great pleasure in the success of the book. She was very proud of it and amazed by its impact.”

Having a famous parent can also be a mixed blessing for the children, as Kits recalls: “I think that the first time I realised that my mother was a celebrity was when I went away to school in 1948/1949 and I saw piles of her new book, My Cousin Rachel, stacked high at the station booksellers. The other boys soon realised whose son I was and would plague me with questions like “How’s Cousin Rachel?” It was with My Cousin Rachel rather than Rebecca that I understood the extent of Mum’s fame.”

Manderley is an amalgam of two houses. The look of Manderley is based on Milton, a property near Peterborough which Daphne du Maurier had visited and where she had seen the model for Mrs. Danvers. The location of Manderley, however, was inspired by their home Menabilly. Its lawns, its thick woodland and its coves must have provided an idyllic playground for Kits and his two older sisters.

He said: “It was like Never-Never Land in Peter Pan. We didn’t get a television set until 1956 and Daphne was very good at encouraging us to play games in the grounds which was really wonderful.”

When the children reached an age to fill the house with lively noise, Daphne retreated with her manual typewriter to a hut about three quarters of a mile from Menabilly to find the peace and quiet she needed for her work. Lacking electricity, the hut was lit by an oil-lamp, and Kits remembers his mother putting in regular hours during a long working day. “She’d finish at half-past seven and I can still see the glow of her torch as she made her way back to the house through the darkness.”

In the 1960s, Kits joined forces with his mother in setting up a production company to encourage the exploitation of her books. She had herself adapted Rebecca for the stage shortly after the book’s publication and there have been a number of productions both in the theatre and on television down the years. Waiting in the wings is a musical theatre version which has played very successfully in Germany and Austria but which has yet to appear in London or New York.

See Rebecca at Newcastle Theatre Royal from Mon 11 – Sat 16 May 2015. Tickets from £14.50, (pay 50p less online.) You can buy tickets from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 11 21 21 or select your own seat and book online at www.theatreroyal.co.uk.

 

 

You May Also Be Interested

You May Also Be Interested

When I rock the mic…

When I rock the mic…

Open Mic UK is coming back to the North East on Sunday 18 September at the Tyne Theatre & Opera House, Westgate Road, Newcastle, NE1 4AG in search of up-and-coming singing talent to challenge for a top spot in the national competition.It’s a chance for aspiring singers and musicians to perform to music industry judges at every stage of the music competition, from the auditions to the grand final. They include judges from major record labels as we...

Read More

Your chance to rock the mic

Your chance to rock the mic

Calling budding North East singing stars – the national music competition Open Mic UK is holding an audition at the Tyne Theatre and Opera House on 6 September. It is one of 15 regional auditions across the UK searching for the best singers, singer songwriters, rappers and vocal groups. See this link to see the 2014 winner Richi Jones:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NMwcSX4i6M&app=desktop  The contest is run by Future Music, the company behind...

Read More

Run for home

Run for home

The Lindisfarne Story is running for home! The show – performed by the band’s founding drummer Ray Laidlaw and guitarist Billy Mitchell – is topping the bill at the first-ever Holy Island Festival from June 25-28. Although the Tyneside Seventies’ band took their name from the historic island off the Northumberland coast, the band never played there professionally. Now 45 years on, Ray and Billy will be performing their hit UK touring show – which charts the history...

Read More

Audio Interviews

view

Reviews

ne4me's picks of 2016

ne4me's picks of 2016...

Picture: The Lake Poets RESTAURANT There are pizza places aplenty in every city in the country and Sunderland is no different, so to ...

Whats on

Marti Pellow

Marti Pellow...

Marti Pellow Supported by Philippa Hanna Sage Gateshead 24 March 2017 There’s nothing mysterious about Marti Pellow despite ‘Mysteri...