Thursday, September 28, 2006

Reviews! Sue Hughes, the director of the Jane Austen Festival and the editor of Regency Magazine praised my show on BBC Radio Scotland as the hit of the festival! The link is .
Once you click this link you have to find Tuesday 26 September and the mention comes about 10 minutes into the program.
Another mention is on the Mission Theatre Website with 2 photos – one photo - not so good or maybe just silly! Here’s the link:
involves some scrolling and clicking!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

22 and 23 September, Friday and Saturday, last full days in London. After writing my blog we toured the Theatre Museum which has an overwhelming collection of costumes, papers and memorabilia. The exhibit on the Redgraves was mind-blowing and exciting to see. I have always referred to the Redgraves as Theatre Royalty and when you uncover their lineage this is an understatement! I'm a fan. Besides the special exhibits, the Theatre Museum has an actual copy of the Patent given to Killigrew for the Kings Company of Players by Charles II. The sad thing is, and everyone ought to know this, the Theatre Museum is closing in January and the facility is being taken over by the Opera. The Museum itself is relocating but if you have a chance to visit it before January, I would say run don't walk! That night, we had a celebratory dinner at a lovely restaurant called Mon Plaisir near the museum. Saturday held two highlights; the play "A Voyage Round My Father" by John Mortimer with Sir Derek Jacobi and eating at Rules, the oldest restaurant in London - 1798! Another Donmar Warehouse production, this team can do no wrong. The show is a journey, a young man's relationship with his eccentric, blind, barrister father. The minutia of the garden became the universal - this was a story everyone who has had a father could relate to. Besides riveting performances by Sir Derek and Joanna David as the mother, Dominic Rowan delivered a most compelling, heartfelt turn as the son. Dinner that night at Rules - we had grouse, cabbage, potatoes, toffee pudding. The grouse - the feet were still there and they had feathers on them! I felt I was having my complete 18th century experience. The meat is very smoky and unlike anything I've ever tasted. Dame Diana Rigg came into the restaurant with a gentleman holding a huge bouquet of white roses and all went up to a private room. I felt like throwing myself at her feet and telling her that her performance as Media changed my life and we love all her Avengers episodes as well! But no such luck in sighting her on our way out! Sunday morning found us hurrying to the Victoria Station and the Gatewick Express.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Forgive me! I know it's been a couple of days. Wednesday was very full with no time to get to the internet cafe. Attended a wonderful lecture on Art and Character at the Holbourne Museum and then it was off to the Jane Austen Centre to obtain not just a shirt but an entire costume for my stage manager extraordinaire David G. At the Centre, Ms. Glenys Hale was absolutely lovely to us, I think she thought David quite handsome and she gave him this beautiful blue coat, cravat, vest, knickers and so forth to wear for the performance - he looked exquisite. The show, the show, the show! First the tech went very smoothly, though I had forgotten my book and candle, Ann G. at the Mission Theatre was so accomodating, the Mission provided me with the items. Breath, Karen, breath! My young ladies came, Rebecca and Chris, and dressed in full costume and then the Gainors came looking fabulous as well. I prepped everyone, I drank some tea and some ice water and we were off! I was incredibly nervous and intimidated but I made my goal to hit my characters and have fun in each role and the audience laughed hard and applauded and the picture taking session at the end of the show went on and on - all wanted pictures of me and my company as the various characters - so struck many poses! Kudos go to my directors, Amy and Susan - the direction was complimented, the dialect was complimented. More soon on all this. The costume was also admired and so thank you to Marie Natali for the lovely dress and cap. Marie also provided me with a marvelous lace hanky to match. The topper for all this is that I have been invited back! And not just to Bath but to Chawton Cottage and the Great House. Not just for Jane Austen but for Aphra Behn as well. Thanks to Cary Bush at the Windsor Hotel and the exquisite Gainors, yesterday we did the "Jane Austen Cradle to Grave" tour dubbed so by Dr. Gainor. First off to Steventon. Walked in the church where Jane's Father and Brother preached. Then found the actual site of the house - the pump is still there. On to Chawton Cottage - unbelievable - Jane's real topaz cross on view - real samples of her writing, her actual writing desk, a quilt she and Cassandra sewed with their mother, so many artifacts - just awesome. Chawton Great House - a lovely lady let us in to see the great Hall where I have set the play and the dining room - unbelievable, breathtaking. Up the walk to the great house - a meadow of sheep on one side and on the other, chocolate brown horses grazing patiently. Onto Winchester, the 900 year Cathedral built on water, the crypts flood each winter, the south wall starting to bow, the brook that squirts out from underneath with lily pads, Janes' stone in the Cathedral, the brass plaque and family window and finally the place where she breathed her last in Cassandra's arms, a private home near the Cathedral with a plaque above the door. Another amazing day. Arrived in London last night, I can "feel my morals declining"! Today tooling around and will report more tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A spectacular day filled with sunshine. First, a morning run-thru at the Bath Windsor Hotel and then dressed in costume. The owner of the lovely hotel was kind enough to let us take photos in the "chair" he had out front. Much silliness followed with photos of Mrs. Bennet, Lady Susan, Miss Bates, Lady Harcourt, etc. Dressed and off to the Jane Austen Centre to inquire about a costume for David Green and then checked out a costume shop calling Farthingale's which was closed - but a place to rent regency costumes. Then up to the Royal Crescent and toured Number 1 Royal Crescent - a spectacular house. I did not realize the floor boards were unvarnished during that period. It made the rooms very light. Enormous amounts of prints and paintings covering the wall. Drawing room of spectacular green silk damask with curtains to match. Shutters fully restored in every room, a special shade of blue wall color in the gentleman's smoking room. The kitchen featured a spit that had a wheel which, at one time, a dog would run in to keep the spit turning continously - poor pooch! Walked thru Victorian Gardens, saw some kind of little painted amphitheatre, then on to tea at the assembly rooms. Classical music and pasta salad, better beverages than the states - a cranberry with lime sparkler for me. A short walk to the The Building of Bath Museum - had actual paint pigments used in Georgian times, archetectural tools from the 18th century, columns, in a chapel, huge model of Bath.

Monday, September 18, 2006

This morning I had the chance to do a full run-thru of the show in the hotel room with David Green holding book. I remembered most of it! Not so bad after a weekend off! Next it was off to the Jane Austen Centre and I asked if anybody there knew Rebecca Hemmings. The young lady speaking to me said she was Rebecca - she is to play my niece Fanny - I heard her give one of the intro talks at the Centre and she was fantastic - animated - she will be wonderful! We toured the centre which featured costume exhibits, some history from the period - how Bath was a medical mecca and the waters were supposed to cure everything from obesity to low spirits. It's interesting that many fashionable people of the court went to Bath during Aphra Behn's time - especially to cure syphilis. Enough said there! Next it was upstairs for Tea. We actually had the "Tea with Mr. Darcy" which featured raisin and plan scones, clotted cream, strawberry preserves, cucumber sandwiches, cheese sandwhiches and a piece of cake! We also had the Jane Austen Blend Tea. Now it's we're off to see one of the homes Jane stayed in while living here. We keep meeting many people from the states.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

We have been to the Mission Theatre to check out the space. It is a fantastic theatre space for plays like "Cheer from Chawton". The Mission was was once a church - very intimate - over 200 years old, spectacular wood floors, acoustics. Everyone at the Jane Austen Centre is lovely, accomodating! We cast our Caroline today. A lovely young lady, very beautiful, named Chris, she works at the Centre. She has an exquisite Regency dress, jacket and bonnet - looks very smart! Walking the streets of Bath at night is something everyone should do. The city is alive and exquisitely lit, the bridges, the water, the restaurants full of candlelight, people, the smell of delicious food in the air. David Green has arrived from the south of France, I am thrilled he can be here to help stage manage the show - it will make my nerves easier! I sound like Mrs. Bennet! I forgot to tell Paula Hoza that the gorgeous bookmarks she designed arrived the day we left and I am leaving them all over Bath!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

We have arrived in Bath. The trip was uneventful except for some lightening and turbulence coming out of Newark. One of the stewards on the flight was a real gem - I think he was French. He made everyone laugh. It's hard not to be crabby in coach but he really took everyone to another laughing level. He kept dropping plastic cups on my head! I think it might be lucky! The sky is here in Bath is overcast rendering the city somehow more intimate. Have been at the Jane Austen Centre and cast my James and Mary! As we walked into the Centre, a tall gentleman dressed as Captain Wentworth strode boldly into the gift shop making every girl there giggle by requesting a tape of Darcy's bathing scene from P &P. I don't remember a bathing scene?! Captain Wentworth turned out to be from Columbia, MO, Dr. Gainor and his lovely wife. There are many Austenites here already walking the streets in costume. Very exciting, stimulating, inspiring! I prefer to remain a bit "incognito" today as the dark circles betray a bit of jet lag.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Jane Austen Leaves for BATH!
Today is the day. Much rushing around, up and down steps, first thing this morning: a full run thru of "Cheer from Chawton: A Jane Austen Family Theatrical". With each run-thru, I feel I have more of a handle on this show, more of the calmness that Jane herself would have. I kept running out of breath though - I think from excitement. Then packing everything up into one suitcase. No liquids in carry on. Thank goodness they allow carry on! Instead of all my make up, I have my shoes, scripts, books. What to take, Jane Austen of course - a bio by her nephew - Edward Austen Leigh and Catherine and Other writings edited by that goddess of 18th century scholarship, Margaret Doody and Doug Murray - a friend of mine - I did Aphra Behn for him at Belmont College in Tennessee. Belmont, I remember had a breathtaking, southern style, gracious campus, with Italianate statues and willow trees everywhere. Enough said there. My next entree will be in Bath!