Rational Creatures: Reimagining Jane Austen
Jessamyn Leigh, Hazel M. Jeffs, Anya Steiner, and Ayelen Barrios are people you want to keep your eyes on: the four co-creators of Rational Creatures founded what is described as a hopeful romantic “dramedy” series inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion.
Like many other projects born in the 2010s, it came out of a group chat—one that existed because of Austen’s work. Because of this group chat, these four women, despite being from three different countries, were able to work together.
“We got close when we were involved in a group chat that started off being about a web series and ended up branching off into another group chat,” said Barrios.
Rational Creatures isn’t their first Austen-inspired body of work—the four women were already independent filmmakers before they met each other, with some of them having worked on projects based on Austen’s Sense and Sensibility as well as other literature inspired productions. Once they were in contact with each other, their creative gears got going.
“[The project] started off as a casual suggestion in a Facebook chat, and from there, many more chat discussions, hours-long Skype calls, outlines, drafting, rewriting, countless Google docs, and spreadsheets,” said Steiner.
Though many adaptations of Austen’s writing often take plot points and characters directly from the text, Rational Creatures emphasizes the spirit of her literature rather than the letters and tweaks everything else to fit into a modern day narrative—they say she would have preferred it that way.
“Austen’s characters are often closely drawn from the kinds of people she saw around her every day and in adapting them, we’ve drawn a lot from our own lives as young millennial women too,” they told Aspirants.
See the rest of the articles from issue four here.
Words by Ry Lei
Published Jan. 14, 2019