Jane Austen’s “Sense & Sensibility” at Lost Nation Theater ~ Guest Review by Margaret Harrington

Gentle Readers: I welcome Margaret Harrington, a JASNA-Vermont member, as she offers a review of the Kate Hamill play Sense & Sensibility, now playing at the Lost Nation Theater in Montpelier, VT – it is there through October 22nd – (I unfortunately had to miss this performance – I did see this same adaptation at the Folger last year, and very happy to hear from Margaret that is was just as delightful a production as the one I saw). Vermonters are in luck if you must miss this one by LNT – UVM has it in their theatre line-up for November 8-12, 2017. See below for details on both productions. Get your tickets today!

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Jane Austen’s Sense & Sensibility, by Kate Hamill

Review by Margaret Harrington

The play Sense & Sensibility by Kate Hamill, now running at The Lost Nation Theater in Montpelier until October 22, is a delicious feast of a production.

First it is served up by the lively professional direction of Kathleen Keenan who has whipped up a delightful ensemble on a silver platter of wonderful acting, comic timing, emotional intensity and faithfulness to the original story in Jane Austen’s first published novel Sense & Sensibility. Then you have the brilliant scenic design for theater in the round where the designer Kim Bent uses movable tables, chairs, windows and even potted plants to transport you to Regency England in a most inventive way. The costumes by Rebecca Stewart are essentially beautiful in color and texture and with a minimalist stroke – the addition of a hat, a vest, a shawl, or a mask, the actors play multiple characters masterfully. Lighting designer David Shraffenberger illuminates all with chameleon like magic which transports you just where you want to go. The Music Design by Tim Tavcar embraces and holds you there – lost and found in Austen.

The story lives in the marriage plot wherein the Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne, must find husbands to lift them out of reduced circumstances brought about by the recent death of their father and the acquisition of his estate by their half-brother, John. The eldest sister, Elinor, embodies Sense in dealing with her impulsive mother and two sisters and most of all her erstwhile suitor Edward Ferrars played charmingly by the actor Sam Balzac. Annie Evans plays Elinor as a complicated young woman, totally sympathetic in her role as leveling anchor in her family. Her relationship with Marianne, portrayed with depth and passion personifying Sensibility by Katelyn Manfre, is the lynchpin of the play and the scenes between the sisters are riveting, funny and moving. There are two almost vaudevillian turns that stand out and nearly stop the show. These are Mrs. John Dashwood’s reaction when she learns that her brother is engaged to a woman with no money or status. Laura Michelle Erle in the role vents her frustration hilariously. The other is the Ferrars brother Robert played again by Sam Balzac who goes on about cottages with mindless panache that leaves you shaking with laughter. At times the actors insinuate themselves into the audience by including us in their gossip and this kind of social media chatter is what drives the plot.

This ensemble of actors work together so convincingly that they capture the audience from the beginning and draw us into the world of the story. It is amazing to me that the actors come from different places and meet here as professionals to form this true togetherness in art. I name all the actors here in tribute to their craft. They are: Leon Axt, Sam Balzac, Mariana Considine, Michael Dewar, Laura Michele Erle, Annie Evans, Erin Galligan-Baldwin, Brett Lawlor, Amanda Menard, Katelyn Manfre, Eve Passeltiner and Sebastian Ryder.

As a Janeite and a longtime enthusiast for the writings of Jane Austen (I am a board member with the Vermont Region of the Jane Austen Society of North America ), I believe this play at Lost Nation Theater captures the essence of Jane Austen and reveals the power of society over individual identity with wit and levity.

Relevant to life today? Think social media and bullying, peer pressure, emoji, text messages, limited characters for intimate communication!

Behold! – Jane Austen is alive and well and living in Vermont.

 The cast of Sense & Sensibility, Lost Nation Theater, photo courtesy of Robert Eddy, First Light Studios

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Lost Nation Theater: Sense & Sensibility by Kate Hamill now running in Montpelier until October 22. You can get tickets here: http://lostnationtheater.org/sense/

UVM: Hamill’s S&S will also be playing at UVM’s Royall Tyler Theater November 8-12, 2017 with a different cast and crew. You can get tickets here: https://www.uvm.edu/cas/theatre/current_production_season

Don’t miss this!

c2017 Jane Austen in Vermont

JASNA-Vermont’s Next Gathering! ~ September 17, 2017, with Sheryl Craig on “Jane Austen and the Master Spy”

You are Cordially Invited to JASNA-Vermont’s September Meeting
~ part of the Burlington Book Festival ~


“Jane Austen and the Master Spy”
w/   Sheryl Craig

Sunday, 17 September 2017, 2 – 4 pm

Morgan Room, Aiken Hall,
83 Summit Street Champlain College, Burlington VT**

Jane Austen’s contemporary William Wickham was Britain’s first Master Spy and head of the British Secret Service. Wickham was also the focus of a massive government scandal and Parliamentary investigation when it was found that millions of pounds in taxpayer’s money had been funneled to Wickham and then disappeared without a trace. Pride and Prejudice’s George Wickham shares the Master Spy’s name and his legendary good looks, charm, cunning, and duplicity. Join us for an enlightening talk on what Jane Austen may have been telling her readers…
you can expect Sex, Lies, Scandal, and Spies!

Sponsored by JASNA-Vermont and Bygone Books

~ Free & open to the public ~ ~ Light refreshments served ~
For more information:   JASNAVTregion [at] gmail.com
Please visit our blog at: http://JaneAustenInVermont.blog

Burlington Book Festival website: http://burlingtonbookfestival.com/

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Sheryl Craig has a Ph.D. in 19th century British literature from the University of Kansas and has been a faculty member in the English Department at the University of Central Missouri for more than twenty years. Sheryl has published in numerous Jane Austen-related journals and is the editor of JASNA News. A popular presenter at many JASNA AGMs and tireless traveler to JASNA regional groups (this is her second trip to Vermont!), she has trekked far afield to spread Jane Austen in Nova Scotia, Scotland and England, and upcoming in 2018 she will visit New Zealand and Australia. Her book Jane Austen and The State of the Nation was published in 2015, and she is presently working on Jane Austen and the Plight of Women about Jane Austen and the Women’s Rights Movement in Georgian England.

Hope you can join us!
~~

c2017 Jane Austen in Vermont

Jane Austen Playing Cards ~ your last chance to be in the game!

Gentle Readers:

Here’s your chance to be part of a Kickstarter effort to make a lovely set of Jane Austen Playing Cards a reality: I have facebooked this all over the place, but now doing a quick post to alert all that time is almost up and there is only about $1500 to go to reach the final goal by August 16, 2017, 7:15 pm EDT.

 

If you visit the blog Just Jane 1813, you will find a complete post on the cards with many pictures… then head over to the Kickstarter page and donate whatever you can – there are several options based on what you might like to receive for your contributions: a deck of cards, a t-shirt, a sheet of uncut prints of the cards – lots to choose from – do what you can to help!

Here is the designer Eric Ligon on his project:

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a man who has designed two card decks in honor of the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, using images that Miss Austen is very likely to have seen, must be in want of a Kickstarter campaign to share them.

I’m Eric Ligon, an avid fan of Miss Austen, and of playing cards — but more as design objects than as playing cards. The cards I’ve designed are rich in period detail. Each suit in the two decks represent one of Miss Austen’s novels. The first deck features Pride and Prejudice: spades; Emma: hearts; Persuasion: clubs; and, Sense and Sensibility: diamonds. The second deck features Northanger Abbey: spades; Mansfield Park: hearts; Sanditon: clubs; and, Lady Susan: diamonds. The images for all the queens and jacks come from fashion plates found in Ackermann’s Repository of the Arts—a publication Miss Austen likely perused. With the exception of Lady Susan and Sanditon, these Ackermann’s images are found within the two years prior to the publication date of each novel. The design of each ace card represents the layout and typographic detail of the first edition title pages for her novels. The decorative line art on the back of the cards and within the ace of spades is based on needlework patterns also found in Ackermann’s.

I am launching the Kickstarter campaign on July 17, 2017 – I hope you’ll share this information with others who may be interested.

Yours very sincerely,
Eric

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Here is the link to the Kickstarter page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2089500234/jane-austen-playing-cards/description

Hope you can help, and tell all your friends!

c2017 Jane Austen in Vermont

Julienne Gehrer on “Dining with Jane Austen”

Dear Janeites Near and Far,

Next Thursday, August 3rd, we will be welcoming author Julienne Gehrer to Vermont! She will be speaking at the Fletcher Free Library in Burlington from 5-7 pm on, you guessed it, “Dining with Jane Austen.” This is the first event in the Library’s  new series “BURLINGTON RISING: Lectures & Culinary Demonstrations centered on the historical role of bread in human civilization” – see below for more information on this series.

Julienne will be giving her full talk to us at the Library; a shorter talk will be offered on Friday evening at Shelburne Farms as we partake in a full-course Regency-era dinner provided by local chef Richard Witting and his Isolde Dinner Club – you can read the details of both events here.

Today, a little introduction to Julienne’s book – it will be available for purchase and signing at both events – if you would like to reserve a copy in advance, please contact me.

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Telling Jane Austen’s Life Though Food

     During a cool and rainy summer in Hampshire, England, an American writer received unprecedented access to two manuscript cookbooks connected to Jane Austen. Paging through the unpublished works, it became clear that many of the family recipes could be connected to foods referenced in the author’s letters and novels.

Fast forward through three years of research, 45 period food articles, 75 recipe adaptations, plus on-site photography at two Hampshire houses where Jane Austen lived and dined. In her new book, Dining with Jane Austen, Julienne Gehrer tells the story of the famous author’s life through the foods on her plate. The book’s May release date coincides with the launch of Hampshire events celebrating the 200th anniversary year of the author’s death.

Readers will enjoy the book’s food-centric stories sequenced in the order of Jane Austen’s letters and residences: her girlhood home in Steventon, economic struggles in Bath, stability in Southampton, creative freedom at Chawton, and death in Winchester. Now Haricot Mutton, Orange Wine, Bath Buns, White Soup, and many other foods familiar to Austen can be recreated using the her family’s own recipes. By understanding and recreating these foods, readers can enjoy a certain level of intimacy with the author—much like that of sharing a meal with family and close friends.

Dining with Jane Austen gives readers their first view of family recipes on the family china in the family houses. To create the book, Gehrer was allowed to photograph from attic to cellar in Chawton Cottage, where Austen wrote or revised all her major novels. The cottage is now known as Jane Austen’s House Museum, located just down the lane from Chawton Great House, the home of Austen’s brother Edward Austen Knight. Here Gehrer was allowed to photograph the recreated recipes on the Knight family china bearing the familiar grey friar. Jane accompanied her brother and niece to select the pattern at Wedgwood’s London showroom in 1813—the same year Pride and Prejudice was published. One of Jane’s letters describes the pattern of  “a small Lozenge in purple, between Lines of narrow Gold;—& it is to have the Crest.”

In the midst of so many books offering the fictitious dishes of Mrs. Elton’s Rout Cakes or the dinner Mrs. Bennet might have served Mr. Darcy, Gehrer made it her goal was to serve up Austen with well-researched authenticity. By recreating the famous author’s favorite foods, readers may indeed feel like they are dining with Jane Austen.

Dining with Jane Austen
By Julienne Gehrer
May, 2017 (Ash Grove Press, Inc.) 218 soft-bound pages with 250 full color illustrations $34 at diningwithjaneausten.org and Amazon 

Proceeds from the sale of the book will benefit Jane Austen’s House Museum and Chawton House Library.

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Julienne Gehrer is a Lifetime Member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, and has served as a Board Member and Regional Coordinator. She worked as an Editorial Director for Hallmark Cards, Inc., and retired after a 31-year career. Julienne is the author of two books: In Season: Cooking Fresh From the Kansas City Farmers’ Market and Love Lore: Symbols, Legends and Recipes for Romance. She is the creator of three board games including Pride and Prejudice—the Game. Julienne has spoken at several JASNA conferences and regional events on topics including, Did Jane Austen Prefer a Plain Dish to a Ragout? and Jane Austen and 18th Century Kitchen Wisdom. Although she admits a preference for modern kitchens, Julienne has cooked period foods over the open hearth at the 1858 John Wornall House Museum.

Hope to see many of you there!

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More on the Fletcher Free Library series:

BURLINGTON RISING: Lectures & Culinary Demonstrations centered on the historical role of bread in human civilization Brought to you by the Fletcher Free Library, the Vermont Humanities Council and the Friends of the Fletcher Free Library.

Burlington Rising explores bread’s connection to cultural identity, the development of cooperative economies and food systems, archaeological artifacts from Africa to New England and the breads brought from across the globe to Vermont through immigration. Burlington Rising provides opportunities for people from a variety of backgrounds to learn from each other; educates our community about the historical foundations of diet and food preparation; and engages multiple generations in activities that build relationships through stories and food preparation.

Burlington Rising Lectures on Bread Traditions and Culinary Demonstrations:

  • August – from Europe
  • September – from Africa
  • October – from Asia
  • Late October & Early November – from the Americas

 

c2017 Jane Austen in Vermont, with thanks to Julienne Gehrer

In Memory of Jane Austen ~ July 18, 1817 ~ A Bicentenary

July 18, 1817.  Just a short commemoration on this sad day…200 years ago….

No one said it better than her sister Cassandra who wrote

have lost a treasure, such a Sister, such a friend as never can have been surpassed,- She was the sun of my life, the gilder of every pleasure, the soother of every sorrow, I had not a thought concealed from her, & it is as if I had lost a part of myself…”

(Letters, ed. by Deidre Le Faye [3rd ed, 1997], From Cassandra to Fanny Knight, 20 July 1817, p. 343; full text of this letter is at the Republic of Pemberley)

There has been much written on Austen’s lingering illness and death; see the article by Sir Zachary Cope published in the British Medical Journal of July 18, 1964, in which he first proposes that Austen suffered from Addison’s disease.  And see also Claire Tomalin’s biography Jane Austen: A life, “Appendix I, “A Note on Jane Austen’s Last Illness” where she suggests that Austen’s symptoms align more with a lymphoma such as Hodgkin’s disease.

The Gravesite:

Austen is buried in Winchester Cathedral

….where no mention is made of her writing life on her grave:

It was not until after 1870 that a brass memorial tablet was placed by her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh on the north wall of the nave, near her grave:

It tells the visitor that:

Jane Austen

[in part] Known to many by her writings,
endeared to her family
by the varied charms of her characters
and ennobled by her Christian faith and piety
was born at Steventon in the County of Hants.
December 16 1775
and buried in the Cathedral
July 18 1817.
“She openeth her mouth with wisdom
and in her tongue is the law of kindness.”

The Obituaries:

David Gilson writes in his article “Obituaries” that there are eleven known published newspaper and periodical obituary notices of Jane Austen: here are a few of them:

  1. Hampshire Chronicle and Courier (vol. 44, no. 2254, July 21, 1817, p.4):  “Winchester, Saturday, July 19th: Died yesterday, in College-street, Miss Jane Austen, youngest daughter of the late Rev. George Austen formerly Rector of Steventon, in this county.”
  2. Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle (vol. 18, no. 928, p. 4)…”On Friday last died, Miss Austen, late of Chawton, in this County.”
  3. Courier (July 22, 1817, no. 7744, p. 4), makes the first published admission of Jane Austen’s authorship of the four novels then published: “On the 18th inst. at Winchester, Miss Jane Austen, youngest daughter of the late Rev. George Austen, Rector of Steventon, in Hampshire, and the Authoress of Emma, Mansfield Park, Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility.  Her manners were most gentle; her affections ardent; her candor was not to be surpassed, and she lived and died as became a humble Christian.” [A manuscript copy of this notice in Cassandra Austen’s hand exists, as described by B.C. Southam]
  4. The Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle published a second notice in its next issue (July 28, 1817, p. 4) to include Austen’s writings.

There are seven other notices extant, stating the same as the above in varying degrees.  The last notice to appear, in the New Monthly Magazine (vol. 8, no. 44, September 1, 1817, p. 173) wrongly gives her father’s name as “Jas” (for James), but describes her as “the ingenious authoress” of the four novels…

[from Gilson’s article “Obituaries,” The Jane Austen Companion. Macmillan, 1986. p. 320-1]

Links to other articles and sources:

There are many articles and blog posts being written today – I shall post links to all tomorrow – here are just a few:

Copyright c2017  Jane Austen in Vermont

Come to A Jane Austen Weekend in Hyde Park, Vermont!

Get out your quills Janietes! The Governor’s House in Hyde Park Vermont, home to five Jane Austen Weekends each year, has a special on offer! All you need to do is write an elegy, poem or short story…and be all about Jane, and you could qualify for a half-price stay at the Inn.

Governor’s House, Hyde Park, Vermont

This is direct from Suzanne (the Innkeeper):

 

I’ve been thinking that I should do something to recognize this important year and month for Jane Austen. But it’s been difficult to come up with an appropriate idea, something serious enough for our thoughts of a short life ( December 16, 1775 to July 18, 1817) not to mention the possibility of more books we could love, and yet celebratory enough for the great pleasure she has given so many readers for over 200 years.

This is what I am offering. Anyone who writes an elegy, poem, or very short story appropriate to be shared a Jane Austen weekend here at The Governor’s House may reserve any of the remaining places at weekends this summer at half price. There are rooms available at the Pride and Prejudice weekends August 4 – 6 and September 8 – 10 and one double or single room left for the in character weekend August 11 -13. I hope lots of you will be encouraged to put quill to paper, if not by my offer, then by her inspiration.

Governor’s House in Hyde Park
100 Main Street, Hyde Park, VT
802-888-6888
info@OneHundredMain.com
http://www.onehundredmain.com/

Start writing! Send in your thoughts via email or by post to the Inn (info above) – with your permission, we will publish some of the entries here, all in celebration of Jane Austen…

c2017 Jane Austen in Vermont

Jane Austen’s Signature ~ Sells for 12,500 GBP = $16,111 !

Yikes!! ~ Just sold today (7-12-17) at Christies:

AUSTEN, Jane (1775-1817). Signature (‘Yours very affec[tionate]ly, Jane’), cut from a letter, n.d.

Price realised GBP 12,500 (Estimate GBP 1,000 – GBP 1,500)

AUSTEN, Jane (1775-1817). Signature (‘Yours very affec[tionate]ly, Jane’), cut from a letter, n.d.
22 x 91 mm. [With:] A later envelope, inscribed with provenance notes.

Provenance: Fanny Catherine Knight, Lady Knatchbull (1793-1882, niece of Jane Austen), given to – ‘H.P. Hope’, who, according to the endorsement on the accompanying envelope, dated 15 November 1858, ‘says “Lady K would have sent the entire letter, had it not contained family matters”’.

A tantalising fragment from one of the most elusive hands in English literature: Jane Austen’s signature, cut from one of her letters written to her favourite niece, Fanny Catherine Knight, apparently containing ‘family matters’. Any Austen autograph item is rare at auction: only four have sold in the last twenty years (ABPC/RBH).

2017 Jane Austen in Vermont