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09/25/2015

'Jane Eyre' Stars Slowly Build Romance, Tension On Stage

Quick Facts

 Show times are 8 p.m. Oct. 7-10 and 2 p.m. Oct. 11.
 Tickets are $8 with a Winthrop ID and $15 for the public.

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From left: Davis, Aoussou, and

Jasmine Gunter

ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA – If Winthrop University theatre majors Hunter Davis and Kevin Aoussou hear audience members asking, “When are they going to kiss?” during their production of “Jane Eyre,” they will consider it a job well done.

As the stars of the Department of Theatre and Dance’s“Jane Eyre,” opening Oct. 7, the two hope the audience will feel the tension and romance that slowly builds between Eyre, a governess, and Mr. Rochester, her rich employer with a secret.

Aoussou (Pineville, North Carolina) stars as Mr. Rochester and gives credit to the adaptation for building that tension, adding that it will be very relevant for the audience. He and Davis can often be found in Johnson Hall, running their lines between classes.

“We’ve all been in some sort of situation or relationship where there’s that tension, when you know what you want, but you don’t know how to get it,” he said. “Mr. Rochester doesn’t want to admit it.”

Based on the 1847 classic novel by Charlotte Bronte, “Jane Eyre” tells the story of its title character who, orphaned and sent off to a boarding school by her cruel aunt, lands a job as a governess to the precocious Adele (Caylen Michaels, Cheraw, South Carolina), Mr. Rochester’s ward. Eyre and Mr. Rochester find themselves perhaps falling in love with each other, but what is Mr. Rochester’s secret? And why are there sometimes strange sounds at night in the house?

Davis (Blythewood, South Carolina) said playing such a well-known role is a little intimidating.

“She’s a huge figure in literature,” she said. “It’s going to be hard to live up to the expectations of her. Everyone has at least heard of the book or seen the movies. It’s one of the most challenging roles I’ve ever played, but I’m always up for a challenge.”

Part of the challenge, she said, is controlling the emotion on Eyre’s face. Eyre is very stoic and rarely shows emotion on the outside, she said, but keeps her passionate nature locked inside. She considers Eyre a forward-thinking figure of her time.

“She definitely challenges and tests the waters in regards to gender roles and social class,” Davis said. “She and Mr. Rochester, though they are not the same social class, Jane knows, deep down, they are the same.”

Opening night may be less than two weeks away, but Davis isn’t nervous.

“I’m very confident in our cast,” she said. “We have a very talented group and cast and crew.”

“Jane Eyre,” directed by College of Visual and Performing Arts Dean David Wohl, runs Oct. 7-11 in Johnson Theatre. Show times are 8 p.m. Oct. 7-10 and 2 p.m. Oct. 11. Tickets are $8 with a Winthrop ID and $15 for the public.

For more information, call the Department of Theatre and Dance at 803/323-2287.

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