Great Expectations was the thirteenth novel of Charles Dickens and has become a classic to the generations. He began writing it in October of 1860 and its initial publication was in All the Year Round, a weekly periodical founded and owned by Dickens himself. The novel appeared in nine monthly installments from December of 1860 until August 1861.
Since it’s release, the classic story has been retold in many adaptations in the form of movies, television and theatre.
The first film of Great Expectations was in 1917, directed by Robert G. Vignola and Paul West. While this adaptation told the story close to the original, there was a contemporary film adaptation in 1998, directed by Alfonso Cuaron. In this version, stars such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert De Niro bring vibrant color to the characters. It is mainly known for being a modernization of Dickens’s novel. The original setting of 1812-1827 London was moved to 1990’s New York (present-time when the film was made). The main character’s name was also changed from Pip to Finn, and Miss Havisham was renamed Nora Dinsmoor.
A more recent film of the play was made in 2012, directed by Mike Newell. Starring actors such as Jeremy Irvine as Pip and Helena Bonham Carter as Miss. Havisham.
The novel has also come to life through the platform of theatre and musical. In 1939 there was a London stage adaptation made by Alec Guinness, which actually influenced David Lean’s 1946 film. Great Expectations was then made into a stage musical in 1975 by London West End and won Ivor Novello Award for Best British Musical.
In 2005 the Royal Shakespeare Company did a stage adaptation by the Cheek by Jowl founders Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod. Recently, in 2016 the West Yorkshire Playhouse did a stage adaptation written by Michael Eaton and directed by Lucy Bailey.
Clearly, Great Expectations is a timeless coming of age story of wealth and poverty, love and rejection, and the triumph of good over evil told in many different adaptations to be enjoyed by all audiences. The Academy is eagerly anticipating the Barter Stage Company’s adaptation as they perform this classic tale on our own stage March 11-12. Click here for ticket information academycenter.org/great-expectations