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Sun, Dec. 03, 2023, 6.00 pm - 8.10 pm | Main Stage Premiere

Ballet by Cathy Marston

Jane Eyre

"I grew up on literature. Both of my parents were English teachers and we read a lot." With this background and dance training in Cambridge and London, Cathy Martson developed into a distinctive choreographer who is celebrated worldwide, not least for her literary ballets. John Neumeier has invited her version of "Jane Eyre" based on the classic novel by Charlotte Brontë for the penultimate premiere of his artistic directorship. The Times of London raved about Northern Ballet's 2016 premiere, "beautifully crafted and moving … imbued with emotional veracity." In 2019, the ballet was exported to the U.S. and staged at both the American Ballet Theater (New York) and the Joffrey Ballet (Chicago). It will celebrate its German premiere with the Hamburg Ballet in 2023.

Music: Philip Feeney, Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Fanny Hensel and Franz Schubert

Choreography and Direction: Cathy Marston

Scenario: Cathy Marston and Patrick Kinmonth
Set and Costumes: Patrick Kinmonth
Staged: N.N.

2 hours 10 minutes | 1 intermission
1st Act: 55 minutes, 2nd Act: 45 minutes

Northern Ballet, Cast Theatre, Doncaster, May 19, 2016

Jane Eyre: Dreda Blow
Edward Rochester: Javier Torres

Hamburg Ballet, Hamburg, December 3, 2023


American Ballet Theatre
Joffrey Ballet
Northern Ballet

Supported by the Foundation for the Support of the Hamburg State Opera

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A woman is running, obstructed by male figures that seem to be figments of her imagination. They are tripping her up, blocking her path, confusing her sense of direction. She collapses and is discovered by a man, who unlike her 'demons' seems to be of the 'real world'. He carries her to his home, and with his sisters, aids her recovery, listening to fragments of her story that escape from her dark dreams.

An Orphan
Young Jane, the orphaned daughter of a clergyman, is raised without love by her wealthy Aunt, Mrs Reed. She is shunned and bullied by her cousins Eliza, Giorgiana and John. John taunts and bullies her; she retaliates violently and her Aunt sends her to Lowood Institution for orphaned girls.

Lowood Institution
Rev. Brocklehurst, is a strict and cruel headmaster and the girls lead a life of deprivation and rigidity. Jane befriends Helen Burns, the closest relationship that Jane has ever experienced, and when Helen dies of consumption Jane finds herself once more 'on the brink', questioning her destiny.

Jane survives Lowood however, and even graduates as a young woman to become teacher to the orphans. She yearns for new experiences though in the wider world and accepts an invitation to become governess at a manor house called Thornfield.

At Thornfield she is welcomed by housekeeper, Mrs Fairfax, and her new pupil, a French girl named Adele. Her employer, Edward Rochester, has seldom resided at the house, but seems inclined to change this state of affairs and returns home from his world travels. He treats Jane with a kindness and respect she has never known.

Yet all is not peaceful at Thornfield; Jane senses secrets within the whispering walls, and is disturbed by the mysterious behaviour of servant Grace Poole. Jane dreams of Mr Rochester, with whom she has fallen in love, but is woken by the smell of smoke and rescues him from his flaming bed. She is sure that someone deliberately set his room alight, but he denies this possibility. As they stand in the fire's aftermath, an intimacy is born that both excites and scares Jane.


At a dinner party the beautiful Blanche Ingrams receives attention from Mr Rochester that causes Jane to clam up and feel despondent. She tries to leave but Mr Rochester insists that she remains at the party. Suddenly Grace Poole interrupts the festivities; injured, and violently agitated. Mr Rochester is alarmed and asks Jane to take care of her while he sends the guests to bed. Having treated Grace, Jane cannot settle, and is alone in the ballroom when Mr Rochester returns.

A Proposal
Mr Rochester tries to revive the intimacy between them but she pulls back, convinced that he is engaged to Blanche Ingram. He gently mocks her, encouraging her to unleash her jealousy and passion. Her fiery temper flares when she feels he is treating her as 'a machine without feelings'. He asks Jane to be his bride - she is stunned in disbelief but eventually accepts.

A Wedding
Their wedding is a swiftly arranged private affair but before the vicar can complete the service a raging woman bursts into the room from a secret door to the attic, demanding that the union cannot be completed. She is Bertha Mason, and claims to be the wife of Mr Rochester. Mr Rochester admits that Bertha is speaking the truth and he cannot make Jane his legal wife.

Jane leaves, unable to conceive the possibility of living as Mr Rochester's mistress. Running from him, she eventually collapses on the moors.

Taken In
Jane is found in the snow by Rev. St John Rivers and he takes her in. She is very ill and experiences tormented dreams about her past. When she awakes she keeps her history and identity guarded, but nevertheless finds sympathy in St John's sisters, Mary and Diana, and is nurtured back to health. St John sees a potential wife in Jane and proposes to Jane that she join him as his spouse as he pursues a path to become a missionary. Jane recognises that St John does not love her though and she realises she cannot live without the true love and passion she found with Mr Rochester.

Jane returns to Thornfield, but in her absence there has been a huge fire, ignited – for the second time - by Bertha Mason. With every reason to wish her dead, Mr Rochester still attempts to save Bertha from her own hand. He fails. She dies, and he is blinded.

Jane finds him a broken man. Yet as he recognises her presence, he falls into her arms and she catches him. They have found each other and will never again let go.

>> Cathy Marston's Website

Venue: Main Stage, Dammtorstraße 28, 20354 Hamburg
Prices: 8,00 EUR to 195,00 EUR

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