Historic Rock Ford, in collaboration with Theater of the Seventh Sister, is pleased to once again present “Emma, The Matchmaker: A Tale Drawn from Jane Austen.” This one-act play, adapted from the classic Jane Austen novel by Historic Rock Ford Director Sam Slaymaker, will be presented in the candlelit rooms of the General Edward Hand Mansion on November 4, 5, 11, 12, 18 and 19. Tickets are $20 and are available at rockford.yapsody.com. Each performance will run approximately 50 minutes with scenes taking place in each of the four parlors on the main floor and in the central hallway of the circa 1794 mansion. The play was originally performed at Rock Ford to sold-out audiences in 2019.
“Having worked with the talented performers from Theater of the Seventh Sister on several different productions over the years, we came to realize that history, literature and live theater can blend together to create a unique experience which has the ability to transport visitors to another time and place. We also found that there is no better place for performers to work their magic than within the historic rooms of Rock Ford,” states Slaymaker. “Since we were unable to accommodate everyone who wanted to see the play in 2019, we are pleased to be able to offer it once again.”
There is a rationale for presenting a play based on the work of Jane Austen at Rock Ford. Although it is, of course, set in England, ‘Emma’ takes place circa 1800 – Edward Hand’s era. Furthermore, Hand came from an Anglo-Irish background and lived in a Georgian country mansion. The life and customs of the English country gentry at the turn of the nineteenth century would have felt familiar to him and to his family.”
Because “Emma” is a novel of over 400 pages, Slaymaker realized from the outset that it would only be possible to present a small part of it at Rock Ford. “Fortunately, Austen divided ‘Emma’ into three ‘Volumes’ – a format that allowed us to adapt a section of the novel in a way that still allowed us to tell a complete story,” explains Slaymaker. “I decided to focus on the first volume, which tells the story of how Emma chooses to act as a ‘matchmaker’ between her friend Harriet Smith and Mr. Elton, the village vicar. Things do not turn out at all as Emma intends, she learns some lessons and the stage is set for the rest of the novel. By focusing on Volume One, we are able to provide our guests with a healthy sampling of some of Jane Austen’s great dialogue, humor and sharp wit while foreshadowing things that will happen later in the story. We were also able to incorporate some wonderful period music and dancing (with assistance from Rock Ford’s group of period dancers led by Glenda Jardel) as part of Emma’s efforts to bring Miss Smith and Mr. Elton together.”
“I truly love these community collaborations with Rock Ford,” states Cynthia Charles of Theater of the Seventh Sister. “Performing ‘Tales from the Caretakers’ in past Octobers was so enjoyable. It is such a pleasure working with the staff and volunteers and entertaining the wonderful audiences at this magical place.”
To comply with Covid-19 precautions and to allow the play to be performed within the house, tickets are limited to 15 per performance and face coverings by audience members will be required. Early reservations are encouraged to avoid disappointment.
Please bear in mind that “Emma, The Matchmaker” is not handicapped accessible. Guests will be standing during the performance and following the characters from room to room on the first floor of the mansion.
Historic Rock Ford was the home of Revolutionary War General Edward Hand, his family, his workers and servants, both enslaved and free, located at 881 Rockford Road, Lancaster, Pennsylvania. It is owned and operated by the Rock Ford Foundation, a private, not-for-profit corporation.
881 Rockford Road
Lancaster, Pennsylvania 17602