Canberra, April 15-19
Oh, how much do I long to go! Dressing up in regency style, attening balls, sewing workshops, learning the country dances and listening to academics about the books themselves while hanging out with fellow Jane-ites. What a dream! If you’ve ever felt yourself in need of a real, tangible, taste of Regency then this is for you. And if you are starved for fellow Austen fans then, similarly, missing this would be a recipe for disaster! Certainly, as Pride and Prejudice fans, this festival offers an understanding into the book and life at the time that is hard to match… Unfortunately, this event is in Canberra from the 15-18/19 (discrepancies everywhere) April 2010 (and so, a bit out of the way for us Sydney-siders, and those around the world), and it’s quite expensive with each workshop being a different cost, and while some are only around 15 dollars a go, there are several that are upwards of 100 bucks. (However, they are looking for VOLUNTEERS, with which comes a half-price pass to the events, so if you have some free time and are dying to go, then this definitely seems like the way to do it. )
The event, directed by Mrs Aylwen Gardiner-Garden and sponsored by Earthly Delights (Historic Dance Academy), Rydges Hotels/Resorts and Canberra and Region Heritage Festival 2010, allows anyone between ages 13-80 to join up for the “five fantastic days of music, fashion, drama, dancing, food, readings, talks & songs.” However, although it claims to be a complete ‘Jane Austen’ event- a lot of it seems to be angled towards Sense and Sensibility, with about 7 events revolving around this book and I thought I read somewhere that S&S is the theme this year (the festival has been running successfully for about 3 years since ’08!).
I’d like to call attention to the main Pride and Prejudice themed events of the day. There will be a look at “Jane Austen in the 21st Century”, which discusses, among others, the books- The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet (by Colleen McCullough) as well as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which I reviewed before, (Seth Grahame-Smith). To me, this just sounds fantastic, an academic interpretation as well as a fun discussion- it would be fantastic to hear other peoples’ views about the books, and the way they include, and/or trash Jane Austen’s works.
“Regency Card Games” will be a tutorial on how to play all the different games mentioned (including Whist, and several others seen in Pride and Prejudice). You’ll see a post on this from me in the next couple of weeks. Card games were a really important part of the Regency lifestyle, and as we still play them today (and many of them are similar or the same e.g. vingt-et-un or ’21’) it is very easy to relate to.
There is also “Undressing Mr. Darcy” (definitely a favourite, and it booked out fast) that isn’t quite as raunchy as it sounds. A historical costume expert is going through all the different layers of clothing (and it is suggested that they are undressing to do so) to describe what a Gentleman would have worn.
There are also plenty of things that relate to Pride and Prejudice well (including hairstyles and general regency things), and some fantastic things about Austen’s specific writing style and how her grammar works versus the language we speak and write today. Each event generally has English Tea provided, and there are plenty of snacks. And really, what could be better than imagining yourself as one of the characters (*cough* Elizabeth Bennet *cough*) and putting on a gown, while listening to live music and eating food from the era. The only problem is that the main ball (which, if I trekked all the way to Canberra, I would have to go to!) requires you to have your own regency costumes and be relatively proficient with dancing, which can cost a lot and/or take a lot of time (sewing, patterns, dressmaking, lessons etc).
If you want a broad summation of all the events occurring at this festival, in Canberra, then I suggest you read the program of what is happening at the JAFA (Jane Austen Festival Australia) as it really gives you a sense of what it would be like.
I am definitely going to go next year! Who else is with me?
Check out this video of the UKs Jane Austen Festival to get excited!