Interview: Kelsey Short on playing Jane Eyre for Blackeyed Theatre

Kelsey Short talks about playing the title role in Blackeyed Theatre’s production of Jane Eyre, due to be streamed online from Friday 27 November 2020

Kelsey Short Blackeyed Theatre
Kelsey Short as Jane Eyre. Photo: Alex Harvey Brown

Kelsey Short has been playing the title character in Blackeyed Theatre’s adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre since September last year. After a tour of the UK and China was cut short by Covid-19 in March, two performances were staged in front of a live audience at South Hill Park Arts Centre’s Wilde Theatre in Bracknell, Berkshire, earlier this month and filmed for streaming online from Friday 27 November. The adaptation by Nick Lane was directed by Adrian McDougall with live music and a five-strong cast that also includes Ben Warwick as Rochester, Camilla Simson, Eleanor Toms and Oliver Hamilton.

What do you like about playing Jane and being part of this adaptation? 
I love playing Jane because she’s such a well-rounded character who goes on an incredible journey. And I enjoy being part of this specific production because everything is so raw, and the live music, for me, really elevates it to the next level.

Kelsey Short Jane Eyre
Kelsey Short

How have you coped over the past months being unable to perform and what have you missed about performing? 
I’ve done a lot of honing of my skills with either workshops, competitions or courses. I’ve missed everything about performing but especially having that connection with a live audience which I think is so special, being able to rake them on the journey with me.

Have you kept in touch with the rest of the cast and crew? 
Yes, we keep in touch pretty often as we have a group WhatsApp so we can keep up to date with what everyone is doing. When we were allowed, we also met up in the park for a socially distanced picnic, which was lovely.

Jane Eyre BlackEyed Theatre
Ben Warwick and Kelsey Short in Jane Eyre. Photo: Alex Harvey Brown

What are you looking forward to about reuniting with them? 
I’m looking forward to finishing the show how it was supposed to be finished. When the show was closed, one of the original cast couldn’t perform so it will be amazing to close the show with everyone back together again.

What are the positives from streaming the show online? 
I think the positives are that those that missed out on the show will be able to see it but mainly those that can’t make the two live shows because of distance, finances, illness or just not being comfortable around people other than those in their household will still be able to enjoy it. It’s such a great resource I think.

Are there any aspects or themes of the show that might resonate in different ways after months of social distancing, isolation and a global pandemic? 
I think one aspect that could definitely resonate is the missing of those that you love as you can’t see them. Jane obviously chooses not to see Rochester for a time but it doesn’t stop her intense missing of him and waiting to see him again. That’s been a big part of my lockdown, missing my loved ones, so I think that aspect could hit home for a lot of people.

Why is live theatre so important?  
I think live theatre in front of an audience is important in life outside of a pandemic because it offers escapism from normal life. This aspect, I think, is even more key during the pandemic because people have only really been able to be in their homes so to experience a show in a completely different location and atmosphere I think is so important for people to forget the pressures of the pandemic and escape to a totally different world, even if it is for a couple of hours.

Why should audiences watch the show?
People should watch the show because it’s such an amazing story and performed in a really innovative way. There’s laughter, joy, sadness and despair with a few surprises in store. It’s a really fulfilling evening of theatre.

Jane Eyre will be streamed online from Friday 27 November at

Read our interview with Blackeyed Theatre’s artistic director Adrian McDougall 

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