The first weekend of July swung into action with two back-to-back days of costumed dancing. On Saturday I time traveled back to the mid -19th century at Pickering Museum Village to dance Schottische’s, Quadrille’s, and of course A Grand March. Not my usual English Country Dance fare, but an interesting change with an outstanding caller, David Smuckler, and delightful musicians. I enjoyed viewing the wide variety of costumes worn by attendees, with fashions ranging from the early to mid-19th century.
Ladies in hoops.
My favorite outfit of the day.
Here is a image of me participating in one of the dances. Of course I am the lady in the Regency Gown.
The dancing continued on Sunday, travelling even further back in time to my beloved Regency period. The Jane Austen Dancers hosted a public demonstration at The Toronto Harborfront Centre. The day included some demonstration dances plus the opportunity for spectators to step up and learn a few simple dances. Lemonade was served, free hand fans were handed out, and the public seemed to have a great time learning a little about the type of dance that Jane Austen would have participated in. Best thing overheard was a teenage girl walking past me holding hands with her boyfriend saying “How can you not be into this Jane Austen stuff?” I wholeheartedly agree.
Regency dancing at Harbor Front Centre.
Jane Austen Dance
I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to live up to the name “Lady Kathy” when I was asked to contribute to this fantastic Good Time Regency Girls blog! For my introduction, I would love to share with you how I came to be interested in the Regency period.
For the last 8 years, I have been a devoted Jane Austen fan…going from “not interested, thank you very much” to having some reading material either by or relating to Jane Austen on my nightstand every day of the year! My history up to this turning point had been that of someone interested in literature but primarily newer writers – say, in the 20th century. And preferably American. And preferably short stories.
I had definitely read my share of English writers during my 4 years of study as an English Major. But when it came to reading for pleasure, they were not my focus. Not yet, any way.
Of course I had heard of Jane Austen…who hasn’t? But did I realize that her novels were so few (only 6 completed) and her life was so short? NO. But more importantly, I did not grasp the way her stories mirror real life…not just in the early 1800s but still today. And because I had not been required to read her at University, I was just plain missing out.
My sister-in-law, whom I shall call Sue (like I do in real life), wasn’t missing out…in fact, she loved the movie Pride and Prejudice (BBC) and would often have it right by her TV/VCR because she was committed to watching it twice a year. The first time I noticed it there, I actually teased her about. My SIL is an urban gal, sophisticated, and what interest could this story hold for her? But her response was something like, “I just love the story” and well, how can you argue with that?
So fast-forward a few years, when I was asked to be the delivery person to a mutual friend of these BBC Pride & Prejudice VCR Tapes. There they sat, on my windowsill for a few days with Darcy’s picture spanning the tapes while Elizabeth sat calmly by. One night, I decided to just play the first one and see what the big deal was about.
Oh, my. I was hooked. As I neared the end of tape 3, I wasn’t even bothering to rewind them anymore. Just hit “eject” and pop in the next one, like candy. And yes, I had to re-watch tape 6 immediately after it was finished and rewound, because it was just SO GOOD.
I still occasionally thank my sister-in-law for introducing me to Jane Austen and re-assure myself of her forgiveness for ever snickering at her about her love of Pride & Prejudice.
So on Sunday afternoon myself and Lady Jen made our way to Muddy York (down town Toronto) to take in the show Elizabeth-Darcy. This production is fast becoming the must see show of the Toronto Fringe Festival. Staged in historic Campbell House Museum, the audience moved from room to room with the action. Hallie Burt and Kate Werneburg not only co-adapted Pride and Prejudice, but play all the parts. That’s right this was a two woman show.
To start I don’t think a better location could have been selected. From the moment we got in line I was all set to go back in time. Nothing like a 1822 home to get you in the mood. Once inside it was very clear this was going to be a very different theater experience. I’ve been in this home many times and was thrilled to step in and find it lit only by candles, blacked out windows as to blocking the busy modern street and a costumed stage manager (Steven Vargo) ready to greet us.
It is now that I want to talk to the wonderful work of Ms. Burt and Ms.Werneburg. As I said before they played all the parts, though when I think back to the show it really did feel like this production was done with a full cast. With such skill and confidence they flipped from one character to another and brought to life some wonderful outlandish people, while making them feel real. It must be noted that the jump from Elizabeth Bennet to Lydia Bennet by Ms Burt, and Ms. Wernburg’s shifting from Mr. Collins to Mrs. Bennet stick out. Both these moments must be seen to be believed. Fine acting though out the whole show.
Now I am told that this adaption is very close to the book and I will have to take Lady Jen’s word on that. You see I have never read P and P, and have tried many times but just could not make it past more then the first chapter. To add to this I have never been able to sit though a film adaption. So for me this was a very new story. I found myself in this wonderful setting with these wonderful actress and wishing we could see more of what the other characters were up to.
I know that it is Liz’s and Darcy’s great romance but with such a talented pair bringing all these people to life, I just wanted more! How did the romance of Jane and Charles go? How did someone like Mr. Bennet wind up with Mrs.Bennet? Oh and above all else what went down with Wickham? I would have been happy to see a full show about him and Lydia. Maybe that’s a good thing and a testament to how good the show really was. It captivated me and I walked away having seen a story I never seen before. So I can honestly recommend this production for those who have never read/don’t like the book.
All in all it wouldn’t be a big surprise if this production wins something at the end of it’s run. If you can only see one show this year at the Toronto Fringe make it Elizabeth-Darcy.