Thursday, December 16, 2010

Happy Birthday, Jane Austen!

Wow! It’s been a year, already! I am keeping busy working on the new show and discovering more Austenalia.

Unfortunately, I was not able to make the JASNA Birthday Tea this year, but I’m sure it was lovely.

I am also amused by the selection of Austen-related products one may purchase at this time of the year. My local book-mart was selling author-inspired scented candles. Apparently, Jane Austen smells like gardenia, tuberose and jasmine. (There are some authors, including Charles Dickens - he is personified in scent form by tangerine, juniper and clove.)

I received a lovely gift recently. Alex, a Montreal Fringe compatriot from last year (and Janeite), sent me a delightful Jane Austen calendar. Now 2011 will be more Austentatious than ever!



Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Toronto and Temerity

Greetings Gentle Readers,

Delightful news! I have applied and been accepted into the Toronto Fringe Festival again this year. It runs from July 6-17, 2011.

I am already working on the script (and downing a small lake's worth of tea in the process). I am also looking forward to visiting Toronto again. In addition, I plan to workshop the show in some form in early 2011. I will keep you posted, of course.

Best regards,

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sleeplessness and Sensibility

I know it’s only September, but it’s already time to think about next year’s Fringing. In a moment of moderate madness, I lined up outside Mainline Theatre on St-Laurent for the Montreal Fringe Early Bird Draw. (The first 8 local applicants in each English and French who applied in person on Saturday at 8 a.m., were guaranteed a spot in the June 2011 festival - Out-of-towners were permitted to apply online.)

It was a rather chilly night. I arrived at 1:30 a.m., with my warm clothes, books, camp chair and mug of hot tea and joined the four or so souls already in line. (The first pair arrived at 9 p.m. to ensure themselves a spot!) By 3 a.m. or so, we numbered about a dozen. After dawn, a few more drifted in and by about 7:30 a.m. all the spots were spoken for.

To while away the time, some curled up and tried to sleep, others chatted or read. We also provided a great deal of amusement to passers-by who inquired about our purpose. Sometimes we answered them seriously, other times, less so. (One gentleman particularly enjoyed answering “We’re waiting for Stones tickets.”)

My companions certainly have some fascinating projects in mind: A translated Mandarin opera, a sci-fi comedy, and, very excitingly, a sequel to last year’s Shades of Grey (a live-action drama in the vein of The Twilight Zone). Liz, the show’s writer gave me some tantalizing hints of what might be in store as we counted down the hours and tried to keep warm.

Eventually, it was time. At 8 a.m., we were ushered into the theatre, lined up and our applications were processed. As a result, I am very happy to say the Orange Wine Productions officially has a Montreal Fringe spot in June!

Of course, some of you may be wondering what it is. For the moment, let’s just say it’s Austen-related.

Meanwhile, I am pleased to report I have had some invitations to perform Afternoon Tea With Jane Austen. I am working on some dates and will let you know the details when they become available.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tea and Motivation

Good Day Gentle Readers,

It’s been a month since I attended the Toronto Fringe Festival. While I spent most of the time performing, volunteering and checking out some wonderful shows, I did, however, set aside some time in my schedule to be interviewed by speaker and author Clint Cora for his Motivational WebTV show.

I am very honoured to be Clint’s very first guest on this series. He interviewed me while I was in Toronto and I was delighted to tell him about my creative and rehearsal process – There are also a few scenes of me performing. Please check out the video on Clint’s blog at:

And, of course, if you’re looking for some motivational resources or looking for a speaker for an event, please read more of his blog or check out his website.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Back Home!

I bade a fond farewell to Toronto yesterday and Bruce and I travelled back along the 401 and returned happily home.

I am very happy for my Toronto adventure and am grateful for the great audiences and feedback and getting to meet even more fun, cool and interesting people. I am also exceedingly thankful for Bruce's help in preparing this show and coming with me to Toronto: I always knew he was up there in the booth, calling the cues and keeping a watchful eye. (And, of course, giving me notes after each performance.)

Today I decided to focus on sleeping (I'd been skimping for a while) relaxing and catching up on my reading and TV. In addition, I am going to make some more revisions to the Jane Austen script based on audience responses and feedback for a new opportunity I have in mind. (I have a feeling Jane Austen and I are going to be working together for a while yet...)

I also have a few ideas which have been percolating in my brain that are just asking to be written down...Could an idea for next year's show be brewing? We shall see...


Friday, July 9, 2010

Full-on Fringing

Sorry I haven't posted much, I've been busy doing my show, flyering, volunteering and seeing shows, of course - I'm up to 21 so far!

I find the response and attendance in Toronto is quite good. My audiences really seem to be enjoying themselves overall and I am very happy that I run into people around the Fringe who recognize me and say they enjoyed my show! (One gentleman even said he might come again.)

I am having fun meeting new people and seeing new shows: A few of my favourites: The Duck Wife, Die Roten Punkte, and Bosco & Jones.


Friday, July 2, 2010

Opening Night!

We open tonight at 10. I am going things, making I have all my bits and pieces ready to go.

I am also very glad to report I managed to start seeing shows. Last night I saw The Flying Avro Arrow Musical Comedy - A Canadian story, and so an appropriate choice for July1st viewing. It's a sassy, irreverent and sometimes silly musical take about an important chapter of aviation history. It also features a guy playing William Shatner as an Avro security guard - Need I say more?

Cheers for now,

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy Canada Day!

I am very happy to be here on this hot sunny Canada Day in Toronto. Bruce and I drove in a couple of days ago and we had our tech yesterday - We finally had a chance to get into the space, run the show and meet our super-cool technicians, Dave and Dan.

I really like the venue, it has a nice intimate feel (and it had air-conditioning - Very nice when you're wearing a long Regency era dress and a bonnet!) We are looking forward to our first show tomorrow.

That's it for now, time to go out and do some postering and flyering.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Post-Fringe Withdrawal

The Montreal Fringe closing ceremonies were on Sunday night, and I think I have finally caught up on my rest! I enjoyed performing, volunteering, and (of course) watching plenty of shows. (I did not break my 2009 show attendance record, though. Darn - Maybe next year!)

I am very much looking forward to our trip the Toronto Fringe next week. I will be catching up with some old friends and, hopefully, meeting some news ones. (For now, my family is happy to see me for hours at a time, rather than as a blur who would occasionally pop in to dine with them.)

I have a few ideas for tweaks to the script to discuss with Bruce. (One benefit of having two separate runs, you can make some modifications in between!) Jane 2.0 is heading to Toronto very, very soon.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Friday Fringing and Everything After

I had the night "off" yesterday, so I went to check out a couple of shows by fellow solo performers:

A Trip to Coney Island With Uncle Zero Boy - What a crazy ride! Zero Boy takes you through the history of Coney Island in a wild, sound-effect filled journey! Zero Boy is a dynamic performer and it's hard to resist his crazy energy. Keep your hands inside the ride at all times and hold on!

archy and mehitabel - Jeff Culbert is a joy to watch playing a cockroach and a cat, among other creatures in this play based on the works of Don Marquis. Smart and fun.

Until next time, dear readers, I am off to flyer and do my next show!


Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday and Fringeability

Dear Readers,

I am sorry to have been so remiss in writing the past few days. In between performing, watching shows, volunteering and some family obligations; blogging fell to the bottom of the list.

I am feeling happy with how things are going. I have been getting some lovely Beer Tent and Net Buzz. I also ran into a woman while attending another show who recognized me and told me how much she enjoyed it!

I had shows on Tuesday and Wednesday, they were smaller houses, but very supportive and responsive – A great deal more giggling at the humourous bits and a goodly amount of smiling faces. I even received one of my greatest compliments after my Wednesday show: my 20-year-old brother, admittedly “prejudiced” against all things Jane Austen said he really enjoyed himself!

On Wednesday night / Thursday morning I was also invited to be on The 13th Hour – The Fringe’s 1 a.m. live talk show. Since I appeared on the “Fast Show” I only had two minutes to use. I chose to (humourously) summarize the morals of all of Jane Austen’s novels in under 45 seconds. (I earned quite a few laughs with that bit!)

I have been putting in some shifts at the advance box office and at Fringe HQ. I do it because it’s fun and a great way to meet people. (Seeing shows for free is nice, too!) A huge festival like the Montreal Fringe needs it volunteers to keep things running and to help keep prices affordable. (Are you interested in volunteering this weekend? Contact Volunteer Coordinator Nadege at or 514-849-0069 - and she’ll find you a job!)

I also managed to squeeze in a few shows, of course. (Not as many as I would like, but isn’t that always the way?).

So far, I’ve managed to catch:

Misadventures of a Massage Therapist – Every job can have its wacky stories. Massage therapist seems to be a magnet for the wacky, however. The show is an amusing hour of stories, but not for the very squeamish.

Wide Load – A brainy, sassy cabaret with songs, dance and free cookies – Works for me! Boston’s Big Moves returns to Montreal with a show about breaking down societal biases and fostering body acceptance – They make it fun, of course. (Please note, the show advisory is no bluff, you will indeed see a lady in the altogether.)

The Further Adventures of Antoine Feval – Chris Gibbs returns with more laughs as he plays Barnaby Gibbs, a slightly dim gentleman who narrates his adventures with the “great” detective Antoine Feval. Probably the most laughter-filled show I’ve seen so far.

Fruitcake – A poetic, funny and sad look at being a psychiatric nurse: Meet the patients and the staffers who try to their best under very difficult and sometimes ridiculous circumstances.

Farewell, for now, I am going to sit down and finish scheduling the rest of my weekend. (So many shows and volunteer shifts - so little time!)


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sunday Afternoon and After

Consarn it, I didn't get to Big Moves' Pancake Breakfast after all! (And caffeine and carbs are two of my favourite food groups!)

However, I did catch a few shows before and after mine:

The Dirty Little Spoons: Feels like the first time - Some naughty, all-lady sketch. It was a delicious blend of live scenes and video as well as some sassy musical numbers. (I now have the "Dr. Stevens" song stuck in my head.)

Uncalled For: Hypnogogic Logic - Family-friendly all-gent sketch inspired by the world of dreams. So, so intelligent and funny - I had a great time and my fellow audience members seemed delighted, too!

I had my second show after that. It was a smaller group today, but I still had friendly faces to talk to. I was also glad to see a gentleman of my acquaintance in the audience who dressed for the occasion in a lovely long red skirt. (See? Some people still dress up for the theatre! :))

After that, I checked out 7 (x1) Samurai in which David Gaines tells the story of the "Seven Samurai" - By himself - With only a couple of masks and few words of English. If you're info clowning, mime or just want some great entertainment, check it out!

To close out the evening, I saw Dance Animal: Freaks of Nature - I loved their show last year and loved it again this year. It's a tasty mix of comic dance numbers and scripted vignettes - Infectious, irresistible fun!

Good night, I'd better head off to bed - I have more Fringing to do tomorrow!


Premieres and Performances

Yesterday (Saturday) was our opening show. I was very excited and we had about 45 people. I was pleased to see many of them smiling and nodding during the performance - Always encouraging to a performer!

After a bit of post-show chilling at the beer tent, I finally started seeing shows: First, creamy improvisational goodness from METEOR (with Sean Michaels, Marc Rowland and B.J. Walsh). It's probably the funniest longform improv you'll ever see about an impending apocalypse. (Also, audience members also get things to throw at the performers - How cool is that?)

After that I checked out my Venue 7-mates production of Shades of Grey - If you like the spooky twists and turns of The Twilight Zone this is the show for you! Also, the cast and all the props and costumes are in grayscale - Which helps to give it that retro-creepy feel. There are three vignettes - I enjoyed them all, particularly the second one: Some small-time crooks get more than they bargained for after they break into a curio store. (It was great balance between funny and freaky.)

And now, my gentle readers, I am off to Big Moves' Pancake Breakfast. Then I plan see a couple of shows, performing my show at 6:30 (it's free for Fringe volunteers!) and, hopefully watching a few more after that. See you at the beer tent!


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Postering & Possibilities

Good Day,

Today was an important one in Fringe Preparations - Postering Day! At 6 p.m., the gates to the Fringe Park  (Rachel & St-Laurent) swung open as attention-hungry artists swarmed in to poster every available surface! In less than an hour, fences, benches, tabletops and portaloos were covered in advertising material.

Bruce is a postering ninja, thanks to his stint last year with the advertising masters of Cobra III - We (along with my fellow postering padawan Marina) set up some large panels of several posters across and down to create an impressive Jane Austen tessellation. (We managed to snag a nice spot near the box office for it!)

(I will put up a picture of the poster, once I get it in a blog-friendly format - Why won't you upload my pdf, Blogger? Why?)

Of course, the beer tent in the park is open now, as well, so it is a great chance to hang out with other artists, volunteers and Fringe junkies and start deciding on what shows to see. (There are so many! My top wanna-see shows so far are: Shades of Grey, Miss Sugarpuss Must Die!, The Further Adventures of Antoine Feval and Dance Animal.)

I managed to see 25 shows last year - I am aiming to break my record!


Monday, June 7, 2010

Fringe-for-All & Photography

Good Day Gentle Readers,

Fringe time is approaching! As promised, here a couple of photos of our Fringe-for-All presentation on Monday, May 31, 2010. (Courtesy of my multi-tasking director Bruce.)

Thanks again to Heather Huff for being my substitute Jane Austen and to my friendly neighbourhood zombie horde.

Fear not, gentle readers, as Jane Austen has defeated the advancing zombies they shall not intrude upon her show. (Though there will be gratuitous tea-drinking and occasional flashes of ankle.)
And, of course, here is our presentation is all 640x385 Youtube glory (courtesy of the swell folks at Montreal Fringe Festival). Enjoy!

Having trouble seeing the embedded version? Please follow this link:


(Photo credit: Bruce Lambie)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Fringe-for-All Festivities

Monday was the Montreal Fringe-for-All. Interested companies each get two minutes to sell their show in any way they choose.

For those who have never been to the Montreal FFA, let me tell you a little more about it: It take place in a cavernous space, CafĂ© Campus, full of fun-loving, raucous folks who most likely have been drinking beverages far more potent than tea. There are literally dozens of shows going up one after another. Unless you’re doing something really flashy or memorable, just doing a two-minute extract from you show can be dreadfully dull indeed.

I knew going up and performing a brief scene from the play or a dramatic reading from Pride and Prejudice was certainly not going to cut it. So, I decided to get creative and had Jane Austen indulge in a little light-hearted zombie mayhem. The goal was to poke a fun at the current trend for Austen/Monster mash-ups (such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) and make it clear there were no zombies in the final show. (Really. There aren’t. Honest! I tried to find a way to put some in, but it just didn’t feel right.)

Was it sensationalistic and shameless? Probably. Was it memorable? Yes! Many thanks to my hardworking director, Bruce Lambie, who took my concept and ran with it. (His music editing and zombie coaching skills are par excellence!) Also thanks to Heather Huff who stood in as Jane Austen (I was unable to attend the event due to a prior engagement). Additional thanks to Jeremy Hechtman (for loaning us his exquisite faux machine gun) and the shambling members of my zombie horde.

Did it work? Well, we did get a mention from Pat Donnelly in The Gazette today (Thanks!):

I also noticed she made a brief pre-zombie mention of our title on Saturday (Supplementary thanks!):

I will upload some pictures and the FFA YouTube video when they become available.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Review & Refreshment

I met with Monika, my artist coach, last week, she is helping me to keep on track with all the various moving parts involved in producing, promoting and managing the show. After reviewing my press materials (she liked them, huzzah!) she gave me more homework to do, in particular: Make a VIP guest list and a media list. (Getting the word out is important!)

As a little break over the holiday weekend, I visited New York City again. (I did review my lines on the bus, though! :)) Upon arrival, of course, I sought out some plays. The first was Collected Stories, a two-hander with Linda Lavin and Sarah Paulson. It's a rather nifty little piece about a writer and her protege.

Following that, I saw Stuffed and Unstrung, a puppet improv show from Henson Alternative. It incorporated the wacky fun of puppets with the spontaneous thrills of improv - These puppeteers could not only do scenes, but make up songs on the fly! Lots of fun - Definitely not for kids!

I indulged in my musical theatre habit with La Cage Aux Folles, a tasty confection starring Kelsey Grammer and Douglas Hodge that looks great, sounds great and even has a little romance.

The most singular show I was was actually in Duffy Square, behind the TKTS booth: Theatre for One. It puts a whole new meaning into the term "solo show": One performer performs in a box for one audience member. There was a rotating roster of performers, from actors, to musicians to magicians. Each would perform for five minutes or so. To make it as accessible as possible, admission was by donation.

I was privileged to see a young woman deliver an interactive monologue. She was welcoming me back to the city after a long absence, it was quite an intriguing little piece. She even gave me a little map as a souvenir.

Feeling refreshed an energized by my trip, I returned home. Now, we are back in heavy-duty rehearsals. The Montreal Fringe is opening soon!


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Preparation and Publicity

Bruce and I took the advantage of today's charming weather to rehearse on his back deck. It's a lovely location, and quite appropriate as we were rehearsing some scenes involving gardens.

I took most of my mid-way break outside to soak up a little more sunshine and recalled Fanny Price's line in Mansfield Park: “to sit in the shade on a fine day, and look upon verdure, is the most perfect refreshment.”

Among other preparations, we've been finalizing the show's promotional materials (press releases, bios, etc.) over the past week. I am also pleased to unveil the show's publicity photo. (Many thanks to photographer Chris J. Hing.)

Next on the agenda, we are finalizing our plans for the Montreal Fringe For All Preview Night. (On May 31, all interested Fringe companies get two minutes to plug their show in any way they choose.) I shan't reveal what we're cooking up - I'd like it to be a surprise!


Sunday, May 9, 2010

An Afternoon With Jane Austen...And Beer

Of course, today was Mother’s Day. Aside from my daughterly duties, I had the privilege of attending “An Afternoon with Jane Austen” organized by the Montreal JASNA (Jane Austen Society of North America) chapter and held at the Centre St. Ambroise (next to the McAuslan Brewery in St. Henri.)

We had a full afternoon of lectures. One covered the similarity of Jane Austen’s themes with those of the Dutch painter Vermeer. The second was on brotherly, sisterly (and, appropriately enough, motherly) dedications in Jane Austen’s Juvenilia (humourous and satirical works written when she was a teenager.) And, to conclude, a look at Northanger Abbey, and particularly, it heroine, Catherine Morland.

The presentations went smoothly (aside from a few PowerPoint gremlins) and were spiced up with some truly enjoyable – and laughter-inducing – readings of extracts from some of the novels and Juvenilia.

Following this edification, we were treated a beer tasting of five McAuslan beers, a couple of cheeses and dark chocolate. We toasted Jane Austen with our beverages, enjoyed the snacks and conversed on subjects Austen (favourite parts of the novels and upcoming JASNA events) and not (the proper serving of Guinness and the possibility of extra-terrestrial life.)

I also noticed that there were more gentlemen at this event that at any of the others I have attended so far. Might the beverages have something to do with it, I wonder?

Feeling smarter and fuller than when I arrived, I headed for dinner with my mother. (After my generous snack, I hoped there would be no cheese or chocolate on the menu – Thankfully, there wasn’t.) I also received a little booklet on beer in Austen’s works, as well as in other works during the regency period, to take home.

I quite enjoyed the afternoon; I felt the combination of lectures, treats and company a real delight and a fun change from my usual routine. I am eager to hear about the next JASNA event!


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Big Welcome to Bruce and Show Dates!

Good Day, Gentle Readers,

I am delighted to inform you about the following:

Welcome, Bruce!
A big welcome to Bruce Lambie, who has signed on to be my director. He won an award for his work on Speak Truth to Power: Voices From Beyond the Dark. Fringe-wise he has directed Genesis, or The Art of Writing and played Xamot in Cobra: The Musical Part III. He also has excellent taste in hats.

He has been a great help in helping me focus the script as well as all those other important bits of Fringe business: press releases, promotional materials, etc.

Show Dates!
We have venues and dates. Please mark your calendars now, if the spirit moves you.

Montreal Fringe Festival (June 2010)

Location: Venue #7 Portuguese Association of Canada
4170 St-Urbain (corner Rachel)

The Portuguese Association is a fun, cozy-but-not-too-tiny place and quite close to the Beer Tent. (Location is important!) I appeared in a show there last year (Three Ways to Handle a Telemarketer) and I enjoyed playing in the space and I am looking forward to being there again.

Dates and Times:
Saturday, June 12 @ 5:15 p.m.
Sunday, June 13 @ 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday, June 15 @ 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, June 16 @ 11:15 p.m.
Saturday, June 19 @ 3 p.m.
Sunday, June 20 @ 7:45 p.m.

Toronto Fringe Festival (July 2010)

Location: Theatre Passe Muraille, Backspace
16 Ryerson Avenue (North of Queen West, East of Bathurst)

I have not been to this space, nor have I seen any pictures of the interior. However, the floor plan looks charming! It promises to be another intimate-but-not-too-intimate space.

Dates and Times:
Friday, July 2 @ 10 p.m.
Saturday, July 3 @ 5 p.m.
Sunday, July 4 @ 4:30 p.m.
Tuesday, July 6 @ 3:15 p.m.
Wednesday, July 7 @ 1:15 p.m.
Thursday, July 8 @ 8 p.m.
Friday, July 9 @ 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 10 @ 2:45 p.m.


Monday, March 22, 2010

Jane Austen in New York

I love visiting New York City, for many reasons, but I had a very special mission last week: It was the final weekend of The Morgan Library's exhibit of A Woman's Wit: Jane Austen's Life and Legacy. The exhibit featured many documents in Austen's own hand (letters, manuscripts, etc.) as well as early printed copies of her novels and a short film about her contributions.

When I entered the exhibition hall it did not seem to be very large, yet it was full of things to pore over: Letters, drawings, rare books...I spent a great while taking them all in.

I have read many of Austen's letters in books – But there was a certain thrill to walk up to the display case and see those tiny precise brown squiggles shift into focus and become the letters and texts I've read so often. I also had a chance to see evidence sister Cassandra's censoring of some of the letters. (She is supposed to have taken her scissors to some sections as they contained less than flattering opinions about family members or dealt with “too much information” descriptions of health matters.)

I particularly enjoyed reading the manuscript copy of the short parody “Plan of a Novel”. I have it almost memorized, so it was a treat to recognize those snarky little lines in the hand of the witty woman who wrote them.

After the exhibition, I took a turn around the gift shop. There was, of course, an ample selection of note cards, books and other Austen memorabilia. I was also fortunate enough to meet Patrice Hannon, a fellow Janeite and author of 101 Things You Didn't know about Jane Austen. She very kindly autographed the copy I purchased.

Afterward, we repaired to the New Victory Theatre to see The Reduced Shakespeare Company's The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) – It was my first time attending an RSC show, and it was a wacky, wild ride!

The next day we saw the musical In The Heights (solid material, solid cast - highly recommended) and Looped, starring Valerie Harper as Tallulah Bankhead. I enjoyed the play very much, and I am quite confident that my fellow audience members did as well. A good chunk of the laughs come from the use of Miss Bankhead's many bon mots (though, I daresay, she was rather more brash than Jane Austen ever was.)

We also pursued some more of my favourite New York activities: Walking about and shopping. I was particularly looking for a topaz cross to wear as a part of my costume. (Charles, Jane Austen's brother, gave her a topaz cross as a gift.) I found what I was looking for on 38th St., near 6th Avenue. There are several costume jewelry shops in the neighborhood and walking through them is a glittery (and sometimes gaudy) delight. I found this piece and loved its simplicity. (The fact it only cost $10 didn't hurt either!)

On our return trip, I read The Watsons (one of Austen's unfinished novels.) I was a little sad to get to end of what Austen wrote, it was a very promising beginning. Emma Watson's sister Elizabeth seems to be a most fascinating character - she definitely has a few secrets (including what really happened between her and her former suitor Purvis). Unfortunately, Austen only gave her family a brief outline of the ending, but set it aside and it was never completed. Now I am moving onto Lady Susan.



Monday, March 8, 2010

Jane Austen Heads to Toronto

Great news! My show has been accepted into the Toronto Fringe Festival this summer. (I was first on the waiting list and a spot opened up.) So, I am looking forward to bringing Jane Austen to Toronto this July.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

"Did you ever see such dancing? Was not it delightful? " - Emma

I have been continuing my Austen readings and research over the past weeks – However, (as my friend, Mr. Clint, has just reminded me) I have not been blogging. So, here is a (rather overdue) new post:

Yesterday, my friend Miss Mona and I attended our first “Around a Cup of Tea” English Country Dance (ECD)class. (This is the style of dance often seen in film and TV versions of JA novels.) I was interested in trying this class out ever since I heard about it in a JASNA newsletter.

As soon as we walked in the door, we were welcomed by the friendly Arduina, who teaches the class with her partner Michel. Soon, Miss Mona and I were meeting the other students and learning our starting positions. Many of the dances involve partners starting by standing facing each other – Sometimes in two long lines, sometimes in smaller groups. The dancers then move in seemingly simple choreographed patterns. I found that while the steps themselves are fairly straightforward, remembering their order can be a little challenging! (Pre-class caffeination is definitely recommended!)

There was a slight scarcity of gentlemen, so a few ladies donned ties and sashes to dance the men’s parts. (This was to make them easy to spot so we would not be confused as to where the “ladies” and “gentlemen” were as we navigated the steps.) Arduina and Michel would take us through the steps in segments then put them together – And then have us try them with music.

As a neophyte, I definitely found the dances challenging. However, the learning curve is quite steep – So, I soon felt like I felt I had achieved a certain level of competence.

By we the time we were at the midway break, I was definitely warm. (These dances can be quite the workout - I can certainly see how Regency-era ladies could get some fitness benefits from dancing!) We paused for tea (of course!), coffee and light refreshment (cakes and cookies). After that, we jumped into the really challenging choreographies.

I found these new steps and sequences a little more challenging. Nonetheless, I felt quite confident with them by the end. (I also found out dancing uses a few muscles that I seem to have neglected in my regular fitness regimen – But, thankfully, nothing was protesting too much.)

Miss Mona and I had fun, met some lovely people and even got in a little cardio. We left the class with the definite desire to return – and soon!

On the research front, I finished Northanger Abbey and I am now working my way through the unfinished works Sanditon and The Watsons.

Best regards,

“Around a Cup of Tea” classes run roughly once or twice per month near the Berri-UQUAM metro station in Montreal. For more info, please visit: