Queen Consort Camilla commissions play in style of Jane Austen to celebrate writer’s wit
Queen Consort Camilla has commissioned a play in the style of Jane Austen.
The 75-year-old royal, due to be crowned alongside her husband King Charles, 74, on May 6, wants the work to celebrate the ‘Pride and Prejudice’ author’s “brilliant sense of humour” and it will be performed at her charity’s first literary festival.
Vicki Perrin, chief executive of Camilla’s Reading Room good cause, told the Daily Telegraph about the play, billed for a June 11 performance at Hampton Court Palace: “Her Majesty’s title for this performance will be revealed on the day, but I can tell you that it reflects her great love of Austen, as well as her unique and brilliant sense of humour.”
The award-winning improvisation group Austentatious is creating the play for the inaugural Queen’s Reading Room festival, and Ms Perrin added the improvisational comedy troupe’s performances are “brilliantly fun” and they will easily be able to “riff off” Austen’s “wit and trademark humour”.
She added the goal of the festival performance was to “put the fun and theatre back into literary festivals”, saying: “Our goal for the day isn't the sale of books, but the showcase of brilliant literature, authors, genres-some of whom will be familiar to followers of Her Majesty's book club and some will be new.
“It will, I hope, be a joyous day, celebrating stories and their power to bring us all together”.
Five other events held on the day of the festival will include a memorial event for Dame Hilary Mantel and a conversation between Camilla’s friend Gyles Brandreth and Dame Judi Dench.
Other speakers on the day are to include David Olusoga, Kamila Shamsie, Ben Macintyre and Ken Follett.
June’s festival will be a co-production between The Queen’s Reading Room and Historic Royal Palaces, which is the independent charity that cares for Hampton Court Palace.
John Barnes, Chief Executive of Historic Royal Palaces, said that Hampton Court was fitting because it had “witnessed important literary events in the past” such as William Shakespeare and his company performing in the Great Hall.
He added: “We are looking forward to continuing its long connection with literature by welcoming a stellar line-up of speakers from the arts and literary world.”
In the launch video, Dame Judi narrates Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 over clips of Hampton Court Palace and festival-goers were seen sipping champagne on the grounds of the venue in the sun.
Avid reader Camilla – whose lifelong love of literature led her to become patron of the National Literacy Trust – wants her Reading Room charity to advance education by promoting and providing opportunities for the appreciation of literature among adults and children in the UK and around the world.
The project was relaunched as The Queen’s Reading Room charity at a Clarence House reception last month, during which Camilla urged authors to resist curbs on “freedom of expression”.
Her phrase was an apparent reference to the recent row over Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s books being rewritten for a new generation, with words such as “fat” cut out of them to avoid offending today’s kids.