Welcome to Sanditon‘s Lenne Klingaman speaks exclusively with Hypable about her audition, her experiences with the Sanditon fandom, and much more.
Lenne Klingaman joined the Lizzie Bennet Diaries spinoff as Clara Breton, the modern day interpretation of Jane Austen’s Miss Clara Brereton. On Welcome to Sanditon, Clara runs the ice-cream shop that is at the centre of the new-Sanditon vs old-Sanditon controversy. She also shares brilliant ice-cream recipes for Sanditon viewers – and do we spot a budding romance on the horizon?
Exclusive interview: Lenne Klingaman
Tell us about your audition process.
Well, when I got the appointment, just the idea of a project based on a Jane Austen novel (albeit unfinished) sounded INCREDIBLY intriguing. You know, childhood fantasies, etc. I was excited instantly, but told myself to not get ahead of myself. Then I realized that the project was attached to the Lizzie Bennett folks and some very very smart minds at the forefront of new media, which increased the excitement.
Then I read the sides and I knew. I loved this character, I clicked with her. Now I was hooked. Clara just fit into this part of myself that I love to get to release – the kind but outspoken and a little sassy, ok a lot sassy at times, part. (I love getting to play strong women who speak their minds but can be vulnerable too.)
I went in to read for Margaret, Jay, and Stuart. They were so warm, welcoming. I knew I liked them. They laughed. They gave great adjustments. I was called back, thankfully! I got to read opposite the wonderful and open Allison Paige – we had to pretend we were using so Domino so we couldn’t look at each other, just forward at the lens as if she were there – but we still managed to really listen and connect to each other. Bernie was in the room and gave excellent direction.
And I knew now I’d be really bummed if I didn’t get it. I have got to say, the writing right off the bat was so good. These writers – they are so talented. You can just speak the words – they do so much for themselves. Its a real joy to attempt to live up to the words and just tell the story, serve them up for the audience, not do some crazy judo-ing to make it sound natural.
When I got the call to do a read with the possible Edwards, I was ecstatic and just hoped for a great partner who I connected with. And boom, Kyle Walters everybody! That read was hilarious…he was so awkward. I didn’t know if I made him feel that awkward or if he was the most ingenious auditioner ever…but my job was easy, I just had to play. Very happy it worked out the way it did.
Did anyone sit you down and explain the level of fan response that ‘Welcome to Sanditon’ would probably receive, based on ‘The Lizzie Bennet Diaries’?
Yes, we were warned! Just kidding, kind of. They, in fairness, told us before accepting the gig that LBD had a wonderfully large and kind fan base and many would be watching WTS. And our online presence would increase.
Its a new age in the world of performers. We can connect to our audience so easily, it’s all so direct now, or can be. I knew I had to check my facebook settings but other than that I was really impressed by the use of social media/transmedia. That can be a really wonderful thing. It can also be scary (we all know those YouTube commentators..oh boy.)
Its not always healthy to read everyone’s opinion of you and your character. But I have found the fandom so welcoming and thoughtful and CREATIVE. Wow. The world of Tumblr blows me away. It’s fun to send my Grandmother crazy gifs of me throwing ice cream cones. Oh technology!
What has your experience of the fandom been?
It has been incredibly interpersonal. Very welcoming and funny and invested. The fans really care about the storytelling, which I love. Its important. I think they are loyal and really trusting in the artistry behind the scenes, that goes into the writing, the choices, the aesthetic, the world. They pay attention, to everything!
We as artists have to be able to try new things, stretch our muscles, grow. We hope our audience will like the next thing; we at once both want to satisfy them and connect to them while also expanding our abilities, our interests. LBD is so iconic and pivotal in new media; the fans really embraced what could come next. That is a luxury most new work does not have.
I took it very seriously (and was a little nervous!!) how I would fit in to the LBD/Pemberly Digital world. I also have them to thank for introducing me to the grand wide world of Twitter and Tumblr. I was a little late to the party. Really happy to be here!
Do you follow your character’s transmedia interactions?
A decent amount – its kind of schizo sometimes, very meta – like when I want to tweet Clara and I realize that would break the world. Or I want to interact as her, but its me… sometimes I notice Clara-isms creeping in. She lives in me, so its easy to do.
You know – sometimes a good ice cream cone throw is exactly the thing you need…
But in all seriousness, its amazing the depth the world goes to. So yes, I lurk on Clara!
Were you familiar with ‘The Lizzie Bennet Diaries’ before beginning this project?
I was, not extensively. I am glad I know more now. So many friends of mine have been appearing who LOVE LBD. Its fun to share this with them… I knew LBD was really at the forefront.
What was your previous experience with Jane Austen and ‘Sanditon’?
Oh don’t get me started… Jane Austen – lets just say I sat really close to the TV and practically cried when Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility didn’t win the Oscar. I mean, Braveheart is good, don’t me wrong. One of my favorite film moments ever is in that movie – Murron’s death. Oof.
But man, I think thats how I came to love Austen. I read Pride and Prejudice, Emma. At a young age, I really searched for and looked up to female role models. She was definitely one. She wrote young women so perfectly. Really, her heroines were dealing with the same issues we have today. Restrictions, men, pain, family, desire, the struggle in a society of inequality.
I just rewatched Sense and was astounded by the relevance it has to the present. I mean, way sexier clothing, but at the heart these are not just stories for women – they are truly ABOUT women. We need more of that. Badly.
Where else can fans find you? Any upcoming projects?
I have a lot of different projects going on. I love theater, so lots of that happening. Some film projects coming up in the year. If you are in Michigan or Maine in September, you can see me build a plane and do trapeze in a new play about the first women to fly airplanes – Flight.
Photo: Courtesy of Lenne Klingaman