Thandie as Jane Eyre

Two centuries after Charlotte Bronte was born, I’ve re-enacted her classic ‘Jane Eyre’ as an audiobook.

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I leapt at the chance to record the novel. I loved the idea of bringing the book, potentially, to a more diverse audience. It reflects the timelessness of the book and Jane’s quest for self actualisation. Also, I loved the challenge of creating a cast of different characters, all with the one tool of my voice. It’s as close to walking in another person’s shoes as you can get.

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One of the gifts of acting, is feeling the motivation of another person who’s different from yourself. Finding empathy for a person, even someone who is unsympathetic, forces a different view and demands greater tolerance. In order to play a character accurately and passionately, I have to understand and absorb their experiences. I feel like I’m a psychoanalyst unpicking different psychoses. My Ted Talk touched on this, if you’re interested you can see it here – Embracing Otherness.

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I do think acting makes you more curious about why people do what they do, as opposed to judging at face value.

So, there were times, reading Jane, where she refers to people with the naïveté of the period – and I winced at the prejudice that evoked. But it also made her attitude over Women’s Rights that much more radical. She didn’t need to travel the world to know that a woman’s power should not be limited.

Also, another central struggle of the book is how social/religious constraints create boundaries where passion cannot enter. Jane’s ethical struggle over Rochester’s marriage, and his desire for her to be his mistress, could be a theme placed in any culture, any time where marriage exists. I’d love to see a modern interpretation of Jane Eyre in Bankok, Auckland, Swaziland, Bosnia! The moral dilemma is the same everywhere.

Jane Eyre is in a class of its own. It’s romantic, dramatic, spiritual, and it remains extremely relevant today. The book brilliantly mirrors the reality of being a human being. I loved using my voice to bring these characters to life. I gave myself over to the story completely, breathing the book in and then gently exhaling it for the listener in what became a very personal and intimate interpretation. There is a special magic in audiobook performance, being read to is one of the most comforting and nourishing bits of stimulus that exists. It’s a luxury and a pleasure. It feels like I’ll be sending the gift of the book out to a lot of people I don’t even know, and that’s such a privilege.(Best 2020 foot massagers)

Jane’s reflections on spiritual v carnal love are intoxicating. She relates the struggle of the heart with exacting detail, and the workings of the mind with intelligence and grace. Charlotte Bronte would have hated texting! Jane Eyre from 2016 is another world – so whether it’s nostalgia or curiosity, the journey is about as good as it gets. Enjoy the ride.