Actor, acting, theatre, theater, character, character development, role, jane austen, sense and sensibility, jon jory, england's regency era


To step into a character and a world of the past, the actor must not discard the present, but seek to find connections and links between the worlds. I was cast in the Orlando Shakespeare Theater production of Sense and Sensibility, a Jon Jory adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel, in the role of Lucy Steele. This was an equity production, and it ran February 6th – March 17th, 2013, in the Orlando Shakespeare Theater’s Margeson Theater. Lucy is a female character from England in a period often referred to as the Regency era. As a woman from today’s United States of America, first I explored how Lucy’s words and actions fit into the society of her time, and second I explored how I, a contemporary actor, could organically step into her shoes. One of the greatest tools I had to help me address these questions was the playwright himself, Jon Jory. He was at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater for the 2012 Harriett Lake Festival of New Plays, during which he gave a keynote address and taught a master class in acting, in which I participated. Furthermore, I had the unique opportunity to personally interview him regarding Sense and Sensibility and his connection to the world of Austen and her characters. Along with applying this insight, I applied tools from his acting master class to my work on his Sense and Sensibility text. This special access to the playwright greatly influenced the work and served as a key into Lucy’s world. In addition to working with the playwright, I further researched Austen and her work, because Lucy and her world originate there. I explored various resources about England’s Regency era society and the role of women in this society. By comparing the world and people of the play to the current cultural and political landscape with which I am most familiar, I found iii fundamental links between people living in different times and places, breaking down walls between Lucy’s world and my own. Finally, this performance thesis project utilized the practical acting, voice, and movement skills, which I cultivated in my studio work as an MFA acting candidate at the University of Central Florida. It was a wonderful opportunity as an aspiring young actor to participate in an equity production and work with professional actors. I exercised my stage dialects training by using a standard British dialect, and I applied what I learned in my theatre styles acting class and in various movement classes to develop the behavior and physicality of my character. In order to preserve the new information gained from this study, I chronicled my explorations and discoveries throughout the rehearsal and production process. Through my work with the playwright Jon Jory, my research on Jane Austen and the Regency era, and my application of what I learned in the studio, I strove to create a model process for an actor to utilize when stepping into a role and a world of the past.


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Graduation Date





Listengarten, Julia


Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)


College of Arts and Humanities



Degree Program

Theatre; Acting








Release Date

May 2013

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)


Arts and Humanities -- Dissertations, Academic, Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Humanities

Included in

Acting Commons