Report on Mansfield Park Readings, presented March 29, 2014



On Saturday, March 29, 2014, St. Louis Region Janeites and guests from around the St. Louis area congregated at the Tavern of Fine Arts for lunch and readings of their favorite scenes from Mansfield Park.  As with our Pride and Prejudice event last year, The Tavern of Fine Arts offered a special cocktail for the occasion: “the Mansfield Park.”

James Heine, Rose Nester, Rhoda Richmond, Jennifer Darnell, Lynette McFarland, Miranda Miller, Andromeda Williams, and Shirley Bassett read selections from Mansfield Park.

Because Mansfield Park is one of the most controversial novels of Jane Austen, comments from her family and friends collected by Jane Austen were also read.  The readings themselves gave a glimpse into the world of Fanny Price, her cousins, visitors to the park, and her family in Portsmouth.

Some attendees brought their books and were willing to read a selection too, if time allowed.

Miranda Miller and Andromeda Williams attended in beautiful Regency costumes, adding greatly to their readings.  They also gave a description of how the costumes are made and the undergarments that are part of the costume.  It certainly gives one a new appreciation for what women wore during that time period, as compared to the freedom and ease of clothes today. It was later discovered their guest, Toya Huston, designed Andromeda’s costume.    

Everyone showed a great understanding of Mansfield Park with each of their readings.
Some comments:

“…a wonderful job of organizing the nice event today. I really enjoyed my first visit to the Tavern. My food was very good…  Service very nice… And, of course, the readings – I loved them, and I admire anyone who does public speaking. …the acoustics are good. The podium was charming.”



Jayme Blandford, a literature teacher from St. Charles Community College, was a first-time attendee and is excited to do more.  She is presenting a paper at the Popular Culture Association Conference in Chicago in April regarding the film Austenland.  The paper’s title is “Austenland: The Modern Janeite’s Fantasy Come to Film.”

    Many were interested in repeating this event for the 200th anniversary of the publication of Emma.

In preparation for the March meeting Sheila Hwang, a professor from Webster University, and Regional Coordinator Rose Nester were interviewed for the KDHX program “Literature for the Halibut,” which you can find at the following link:  http://kdhx.fm/archives/archive_gen.php?show=literatureforthehalibut .  The link will be available until April 7, 2014.

 

Austen lovers to celebrate 200th birthday of ‘Mansfield Park’

 

“The following appeared online at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (www.stltoday.com) on St. Patrick’s Day. Jane Henderson is the book editor for the Post-Dispatch and writes about books and publishing at her “Book Blog.”

 

Readers from the local chapter of the Jane Austen Society of North America will gather March 29 at the Tavern of Fine Arts.

Last year the group had a good crowd for its celebration of “P&P.” But as member Jim Heine notes, Fanny Price is no Elizabeth Bennet:

“After being dazzled by the incandescent Elizabeth Bennet, encountering Fanny Price is something of a shock. Elizabeth is brilliant and witty; Fanny, reserved, reticent, occasionally fearful (with good reason), and even, at times, priggish. And as the nexus of the story, Mansfield Park itself is far different, for example, from Longbourn, Netherfield, Rosings, or Pemberley. You find no comic relief at Mansfield Park, as there is in the various homes of Pride and Prejudice—no Mrs. Bennet or Mr. Collins to laugh at, no Mary Bennet to amuse you, no incisive retorts to make you smile. Where Pride and Prejudice offers joy, Mansfield Park reminds the reader on almost every page that Fanny’s fate is held by people whose moral compasses are in doubt, and who seem bent on using Fanny to serve their selfish ends. It probably takes a second reading of Mansfield Park to appreciate Fanny’s character and plight, and to appreciate Austen’s construction of the novel.”

Toward the end of “Mansfield Park,” Fanny does receive some good news — which almost sends the meek one searching for a “cordial.” In honor of Fanny, the Tavern will create its own drink for the event.

In a press release, the JASNA chapter says

“JASNA members and friends will read favorite scenes from ‘Mansfield Park’, first published in London by Thomas Egerton on May 9, 1814, and offer insights on its themes and relevance for today. For more information, e-mail or call Rose Marie Nester, JASNA St. Louis regional coordinator, at 104voce@att.net or 314-752-3752. Lunch will be available after 11 a.m. and throughout the afternoon from the Tavern of Fine Arts menu. The event is free and open to the public.”

The event is from 1-3 p.m. March 29. The Tavern of Fine Arts is at 313 Belt Avenue.

 


Jane Henderson is book editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Follow her online at stltoday.com/books and on Twitter @stlbooks.

http://www.stltoday.com/entertainment/books-and-literature/book-blog/austen-lovers-to-celebrate-th-birthday-of-mansfield-park/article_a6249ac3-fab0-5013-ab27-49425ab2f93d.html


 

Readings from Pride and Prejudice March 16, 2013, at the Tavern of Fine Arts

 

On Saturday, March 16, 2013, members and guests of our St. Louis Metropolitan Region of the Jane Austen Society of North America gathered at the Tavern of Fine Arts to read their favorite selections from Pride and Prejudice. The tavern, a café and fine arts venue, provided lunch and offered a special cocktail for the occasion: “The Bennet”—a concoction that many raved over.

We read in the tavern’s performance space (excellent acoustics). Everyone who read could be heard easily, and everyone read so well! It was truly special, with great guest readers and wonderful members and guests in the audience. The afternoon was a resounding success.

Here is a sample of responses to the event:

The entire program was delightful. I enjoyed meeting and listening to all who contributed. The Tavern was totally new to me, and I am so pleased with an introduction to it as well.

I felt the people at the Tavern were gracious and helpful, clearly committed to establishing an intimate and informal performing arts venue in the area. It was my first time there, though my friend, who read with me, had read in—and helped organize—the annual Joyce readings held there on Bloomsday, June 16. I look forward to hearing classical music there, especially guitar, and do hope we can find occasion to “do it again next year.”

What a delightful way to spend an afternoon. I enjoyed every one of the talented readers and their selections! Thanks to all of you and special thanks to Rose and Jim for arranging this wonderful program!

I believe it would be marvelous to continue this practice with the coming publication anniversaries of Mansfield Park, Emma, Persuasion, and Northanger Abbey. And because we did not have the opportunity to mark the 2011 publication anniversary of Sense and Sensibility, I believe it would be good to schedule a reading for that book also.

Thanks to all, for a lovely afternoon.