Matchmaking, meddling and marriage! A tale youthful hubris and the perils of misconstrued romance!

Mr Knightley (played by Matt Medlock) and Emma (played by Kate Spivey)

The course of true love never did run smooth, and never more so than in Highbury when Miss Woodhouse is making the matches and Midland Players present Jane Austen’s classic Emma (adapted by Michael Bloom) 11-14th September 2019, University of Sheffield Drama Studio

This highly theatrical adaptation of one of Jane Austen’s greatest novels tells the story of Emma Woodhouse, ‘handsome, clever and rich’, and other families in and around the village of Highbury.

Emma is 21 and ‘queen’ of her small town of Highbury. For most in the town she can do no wrong. More than anything she enjoys making matches, deciding who should marry next and to whom. Seeing romance and attraction everywhere, her friends become her playthings, to be unwittingly placed into opportunities to meet and fall in love. But even apparently all seeing Emma cannot always tell the difference between what happens in her imagination, what she would like to be, and reality. What upset can she cause by her youthful blinkeredness to the truth as she pursues her perfect matches. Can she realise her folly before she causes real damage?

Like much of Austen’s work, Emma satirises the lives of the middle and upper classes, the trifles which concerned them: the desire for upward mobility, the importance of social standing. And with a good dose of feminism for the time, shining a light on the treatment of women and the way they exercised power within their social constraints.

Emma combines Austen’s lively comedy of manners with ageless stories of love – secret, unrequited and fulfilled – and beautiful Regency-Georgian fashion and etiquette.

This recent adaptation is not just for Austen lovers and costume drama buffs. Its theatrical presentation cuts through the verbosity often found with period pieces to draw out the fun, frivolity, drama and romance of this classic piece. There is good reason this entertaining tale was the inspiration for Clueless, a massively popular film of the 90s. Youthful egocentricity, the desire to see others happy and succeeding are still modern experiences as much as they were in Austen’s 19th century world.

Harriet and her men2
Harriet (played by Hope Baxter) and her ‘men’ (Mr Knightley, played by Matt Medlock; Robert Martin, played by Thomas Raine; Mr Elton, played by Oliver Jenkinson and Frank Churchill, played by Cal Reid

Ticket information

Emma runs Wednesday 11th to Saturday 14th September 2019, 7.30pm at the University of Sheffield Drama Studio, Glossop Road. Tickets £10 (£8 concessions) available, via or on 07928 276 383. This amateur production of “Emma” is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH LTD a Concord Theatricals Company.

The Author and Playwright

Jane Austen was an English novelist known primarily for her six major novels, which interpret, critique and comment upon the British landed gentry at the end of the 18th century. Austen’s plots often explore the dependence of women on marriage in the pursuit of favourable social standing and economic security. Her use of biting irony, along with her realism, humour, and social commentary, have long earned her acclaim among critics, scholars, and popular audiences alike. Her 4 novels published during her lifetime (Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1816)), we published anonymously, so while being successful brought her only moderate success and little fame during her lifetime. Two additional novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, were published posthumously in 1818 after her death in 1817 aged just 41. Modern scholars now believe Emma to have been the first example of an experimental and revolutionary narrative approach – where the story is told through the distorting lens of the protagonists mind, the truth being bent by partial knowledge and understanding of events.

Michael Bloom penned this adaptation of Emma in 2010, during a 9 year stint as artistic director at the Cleveland Play House in Ohio, the first and oldest regional theatre in the US. Prior to this he headed up the stage directing programme at the University of Texas, and is now a freelance director and writer in Maryland, having directed award winning shows across America and Japan.

Midland Players

Midland Players have been active in Sheffield for over 40 years, developing a reputation for high quality theatre worthy of the professional stage. We perform two plays each year in the University of Sheffield’s Drama Studio, plus other ‘projects’ in smaller venues. Our members come from across South Yorkshire and are encouraged to get involved with all aspects of production, including set design, sound and lighting, stage management and directing, as well as acting. Recent productions include Ibsen’s ‘ An Enemy of the People’; Agatha Christie’s ‘Go Back For Murder’; Richard Bean’s ‘One Man Two Guvnors’ and Alan Ayckbourn’s ‘Neighbourhood Watch’, as well as the world premier of of brand new writing ‘Tea and Tentacles at Zeta Reticuli’ by local Sheffield Councillor, Joe Otten


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