Students’ 21st century take on literary classic

Co-creators Olivia Cole (left) and Emily Rose show how the character 'Marianne uses her new camera to document the drama of university life.
Co-creators Olivia Cole (left) and Emily Rose show how the character 'Marianne uses her new camera to document the drama of university life.

A 21st century take is being put on one of the most popular novels in English literature – giving Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility a YouTube spread to a wider audience.

Elinor and Marianne Take Barton is a new web series dreamt up by Leamington students Emily Rose and Olivia Cole, both studying for film and literature BAs at the University of Warwick.

Based on the novel about a thoughtful sister and her younger free-spirited sibling, it is set on campus life and provides a “no-holds barred picture” of a first year at university – from friendship and parties, to family drama and boy trouble.

Emily, aged 20, said: “We try to depict everything that was important about university. There are the parties, the drunken breakdowns in the toilets, the pressures of meeting new people, writing essays, relationships and joining societies.”

They started writing the 32 episodes – generally six to eight minutes long – in late December 2013 and finished in May 2014.

A crew of 12 student actors and production staff on courses ranging from theatre studies to psychology took part and a new episode is aired at 5pm on Fridays.

All the characters in the series use Twitter and Tumblr to socialise, creating an interactive experience for the fans.

The video blog series has titles such as Escaping My Flatmates and Silence is Louder than Text.

In the series the two sisters live on campus but at different sites and it shows the relationship between the older Marianne and the younger Elinor.

Emily, who first read Sense and Sensibility when aged 14, said: “It was always my favourite Austen novel. I was surprised about how little we had to change to make the story fit into a contemporary time frame.

“What I liked about the novel was the relationship between the sisters and being a younger sister I could relate to the dynamic between them.”

And although more than two hundred years separate the social mores of Jane Austen’s time and today, she said there is a lot of campus life mirrored in the book as regards relationships, fitting in and meeting new people and finding the right friends.

“We still have social codes and being part of the in-crowd and cool is prescriptive on who you mix and make friends with and you have to decide if they really are the right friends.”

And she said a prescriptive code also colours how young males act at university, saying: “There’s all this thing about the boy culture and how they are expected to behave if they want to be part of the in-crowd.

“For quite a lot of boys, you can’t settle down and have a relationship – you have to go out partying and go on the pull.”

The series can be found at www.elinorandmarianne.wix.com/barton

YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com/channel/UCr3icFeboXv0aFFohltFiSg