THE JANE AUSTEN FESTIVAL
ALL THE FUN OF THE FESTIVAL!
One of our lasting memories of the 3rd Bath Jane Austen Festival will be of making friends with festival goers coming especially to join us from as far afield as Texas, Savannah, Canada, Holland, Austria and all corners of the UK, to enjoy all the fun of our festival.
There was huge interest this year. Ticket sales were up, publicity was very favourable, and our new central venue for our major drama presentations at The Francis Hotel proved to be very accessible and very popular.
With such a variety of events across the 10 days, focussing on so many aspects of Jane Austen and the Regency, it is difficult to decide which highlights to mention.
The first event to make a great impression was a showing of the 1940 MGM classic cinematic masterpiece of Pride and Prejudice.
Who is the most drop-dead gorgeous Darcy of them all?
Here was Laurence Olivier, for us to compare with our most recent hero, Colin Firth, from the BBC adaptation of the novel.
A hugely entertaining costumed romp, the audience was clearly fascinated and amused from beginning to end!
Despite Laurence Olivier being rarely better, it is still Colin Firth, emerging wet and smouldering from the lake at Pemberley who sets the pulses racing!
Next, what about a taste of salamagundy or a sip of negus? Baffled? All was revealed, not to mention tasted at ‘Entertaining Regency Style’, a cookery demonstration of a lavish Regency dinner party by Fiona Ravenscroft, South-West Cook of the Year.
As Fiona juggled her pots and pans – ably assisted by her authentically costumed and very pretty kitchen maids – the festival goers were treated to a bewildering array of over 20 different dishes. Fiona used real 18th century recipes, many originating from Jane Austen’s sister-in-law Martha Lloyd.
Salamagundy turned out to be a platter of cold meats, nuts and vegetables, very suitable for a lunch nowadays, and negus, a tasty, unsugared, wine punch.
Amanda Root ProgrammeWednesday had the excitement of being our first “sell-out” performance. The unlikely meeting of Anne Eliot and Mr Bennet! Or to put it another way, Amanda Root and Ben Whitrow.
We are very lucky that Amanda Root has always been a great supporter of our festival. This year she was joined by Ben Whitrow, who chose a selection of readings from Jane Austen’s work, including some very funny early pieces and some passages pertinent to Bath.
Our final drama evening was another “sell-out”, including people creeping in and standing at the back! First Impressions, a play by Mick Fitzmaurice was quite simply stunning!
The play begins as Jane Austen reworks the opening of Pride and Prejudice. Back in rural Hampshire, having stopped writing for nearly a decade, she picked up her pen again, revising her earlier work.Bonnet Web She is discovered in the act of writing by her sister and mother; the three women read the book together and talk about their lives. Scenes from the novel ‘come alive’ on the stage and interweave with the women’s conversation.
There were so many other excellent events. Wonderful costume events, specialist talks, and intriguing glimpses of Regency life. We were repeatedly amazed, by the wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm of all those taking part. Even the weather was on our side this year. Bright, clear, sunny skies enhanced all our walks in Jane Austen’s footsteps around our already beautiful Georgian city.