Trial By Fire For Sarah McLeod In Jane Eyre

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  • Friday, 04 October 2019 09:00
Published in Arts  
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'Jane Eyre' 'Jane Eyre' Image © Dylan Evans

The Superjesus' Sarah McLeod stretches her newfound theatre legs in shake & stir's production of Charlotte Brontë's classic 'Jane Eyre'.


Sarah's role in 'Jane Eyre' will essentially be three-fold as she plays two onstage characters as well as composing the original score.

“I'm playing Helen [Burns], who is Jane Eyre's best friend when she is at Lowood Institution,” Sarah explains.

“Then I am playing Bertha [Mason] who is Mr Rochester's estranged wife who has turned mad and lives in the attic locked away from everybody and he tries to keep her a secret. I end up setting his house on fire and ripping Jane's wedding dress to shreds. I'm completely insane.”

Within literary critiques, Bertha is seen by some as Jane's 'dark double', a dichotomy Sarah sees reflected in her own personality.

“Actually it's really weird they've given me these two characters because Helen is really spiritual, calm, almost Buddhist in her mentality and outlook on life, and then there's the insane crazy woman, and I feel like it's the two sides of my character,” she says.

“I have this real calm, spiritual side but then I have this completely insane, absolute manic side of my brain that I cannot control. I feel like [the characters] are extreme versions of my extremities, so I can completely relate.”

Sarah's involvement with 'Jane Eyre' comes after her turn in musical theatre playing St Jimmy in the Australian production of Green Day's musical 'American Idiot'.

“I've been in a band for so long and I love doing that but my brain is desperate to explore more arty, musical horizons so when I got offered to do this I was like 'yes, let me at it',” she says.

“It's out of my comfort zone and it's heaps of work but I don't care. I want to do this so badly; there's so much I haven't done and I'm not getting any younger so I'm just going to bust my ass and do it all while I can.”

Like many people, Sarah first read 'Jane Eyre' at school and, like many people, found it a challenging read. Coming back to the story for this production, she has developed a newfound appreciation for the language and the character of Jane, often considered the prototypical feminist.

“As an adult I see the beauty of the prose and the genius in the prose,” Sarah says. “No wonder they study this sh.t at university, it's so well done, but it's also the symbolism in the plot and all the characters and how they intertwine.

“Jane, for her era, she's such a strong woman; she's got a feminist edge to her because she doesn't take sh.t from anyone. All the women back then knew their place and they accepted it as their fate because that's what they do, there's no choice, but Jane doesn't. She completely bucks against the norm and for that she is perpetually scolded, but that's why we celebrate her.”

'Jane Eyre' is on at Queensland Performing Arts Centre 18 October-9 November.

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