When the New Era Players, located in Newbury, Berkshire, United Kingdom (about an hour’s drive west of London), decided to perform Emma—Jane Austen’s hugely popular comedy of manners—for its spring show, they may have raised a few eyebrows by selecting a stage adaptation by an American playwright, Paula K. Parker.

“As a director it is always difficult approaching a new venture, especially with a large cast and finding the right people to play the parts,” explains the show’s director, Lisa Harrington. “I always knew I wanted to direct Emma after directing Pride and Prejudice, another of Paula’s adaptations. I did read other adaptations but always came back to hers as it had so much humour.”

Harrington’s decision paid off as the production experienced a completely sold out run and received both critical and audience acclaim, with reviewer Amy Trigwell-Jones of Newbury Today calling it a “smart, witty, and humorous adaptation…” which was “slickly and professionally brought to life by director Lisa Harrington.” Audience accolades included, “What a brilliant show!… I thoroughly enjoyed it… Brilliant acting by all.” “Loved it. Great performances and brilliant dancing!” and “A magnificent production of Emma. What a feast for the eye. Well done to the whole cast and crew.”

“We have a small stage, so with the amount of scene changes I had to make sure our set was minimalist and little furniture so I could move from scene to scene,” Harrington mused. “After obtaining a great cast we went into rehearsal, and because of the structure of the play I able to break down the scenes so I didn’t have to call everyone to all rehearsals, except the main characters. The difficulties came when deciding how to handle the larger scenes especially The Cole’s party, with a piano and the Assembly Ball. We do not have the capacity to house a piano on stage so I decided that it was ‘in an annex’ from the main action and had my actors go off stage to play while the rest of the cast moved to the back to watch the proceedings. As for the ball I managed to squeeze twelve people onto the stage dancing, thanks to the help of a great choreographer.

“I have enjoyed the process of directing Paula’s version of this iconic novel, and my cast have had a whale of a time!” Harrington declared.

About Playwright Paula K. Parker

Internationally-acclaimed playwright Paula K. Parker has adapted a trio of Jane Austen’s beloved novels for the stage, including Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen’s Sense & Sensibility, and Jane Austen’s Emma, with an eye for authenticity and a determination to maintain the integrity of the original work.

“There is a tendency for some contemporary playwrights to inject their own values or agendas into their scripts when they adapt a popular novel for the stage or screen,” Parker declared. “But Jane Austen’s works stand on their own. Lizzy Bennet, Mr. Darcy, Emma Woodhouse, and the Dashwood sisters are delightful characters as Jane Austen created them, without trying to infect them with 21st Century proclivities.”

Paula is also a bestselling novelist, author, and freelance writer whose work has appeared in such national publications as Focus on the Family’s Citizen, Christian Single, Christian Health, and HomeLife magazines. Since 2013, she has written curriculum for the WinShape Camp for Girls.

Paula co-authored two novels with New York Times Best-Selling author, GP Taylor, and her biblical novel, Beauty Unveiled: Sisters of Lazarus, Book One, hit Number 2 on’s Bestsellers in the Biblical Fiction category and earned an endorsement from actress and producer Roma Downey (Touched by an Angel, The Bible mini-series) along the way. Her latest novel, The Carpenter and his Bride, reached the Top Ten on numerous charts, including Hot New Releases in Biblical Fiction, Bestsellers in Biblical Fiction, and New Releases in Historical Fiction. It also won the Bronze Award in the Adult Christian Fiction Category for the 2023 Inscriptions Christian Book Awards.