Guest post from Isabel Snowden!

Isabel Snowden is the director of An Evening at Home with the Austens, and as we get ready to go on tour, she’s written us a guest blog. Enjoy!

As well as running Ruffled Umbrella, I am privileged enough to work at Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton, Hampshire. One of my favourite tasks there is shutting down the cottage at the end of the day.  While it is always lovely closing the shutters and ‘tucking in’ the house for the night, I felt so much more poignant doing so last week as it was the anniversary of Jane Austen’s death. It struck me as slightly odd but, as I was closing each of the rooms it felt like I was saying goodbye to her, someone whom I had never met and had lived her life centuries before I even began mine. That is one of the beguiling things about Jane Austen, you feel as if you know her. Through the snippets of information left through her novels and correspondence and the recollections of family members, fans of Jane Austen are able to piece together a person they would like to know. People identify with different facets of her personality, the eternal romantic, the modernising feminist or the quick witted satirist but, there is always something for her fans to connect with.

As I was contemplating the mature Jane Austen at the end of her sadly too short life it got me thinking about our upcoming tour and the enjoyment of introducing our audience to a side of Jane Austen they may not know about. The concept of ‘An Evening at Home with the Austens’ is to explore the very early writings of this creative genius and to see her experiment with different styles and scenarios.   In her juvenilia Jane Austen parodies the popular writers of the time, pokes fun at various monarchs and puts her own satirical spin on society’s mores. You can glimpse certain parallels from her novels and see how she started to develop her own style. As well as enjoying stories they may not be familiar with, I hope the audience take pleasure in seeing a young Jane Austen full of energy and enthusiasm, and have a jolly good laugh along with her and her family.

Press Release!

Here’s the official press release for An Evening at Home with the Austens!

Please share on your blog/website/Twitter if you think any of your followers would be interested 🙂 

 

PRESS RELEASE

The Ruffled Umbrella Company presents:

An Evening at Home with the Austens

Ruffled Umbrella, an emerging theatre company from Bath, are bringing their latest production to Cornwall. ‘An Evening at home with the Austens’ is a lively comedy based on the juvenile writings of Jane Austen.

On a midsummer evening, in a rural part of Hampshire, the Austen family are preparing some home theatricals. Jane Austen, her brother Henry and their cousin, Eliza de Feuillide, are putting on a sketch show! Join the Austen family for this evening of fun, interact with the characters as they prepare for their show, and watch as Jane Austen’s satirical writings come to life. With so many loveable characters to portray, girls will play boys and more reluctantly boys will have to play girls in this farcical comedy.

‘An Evening at Home with the Austens’ is a light hearted performance based on the early, unpublished stories Jane Austen wrote as a teenager. This production combines the Austen family’s enthusiasm for creating theatricals, and Jane Austen’s juvenilia to create a modern sketch show in a classical setting. The sketches include the stories of Evelyn, The Three Sisters as well as snippets from The History of England. Meet the family, indulge in the whimsical stories, and join in with a good old fashioned sing-song.

SHORT COPY (48 words)

Created from the rarely used stories written by Jane Austen as a teenager, this farcical piece casts a light on the early workings of this creative genius. Jane and her family decide to put together an evening of parody, satire and silliness in this light-hearted sketch-comedy.

ABOUT THE COMPANY

The Ruffled Umbrella Company is an emerging theatre company based in Bath. Founded four years ago by graduates of Bath Spa University, Ruffled Umbrella create theatre that captivates and surrounds the audience, bringing them into the world of the play. The company has performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Festival D’Hiver in Paris, where they won ‘Best Show’, and at Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton, Hampshire.

 

PERFORMANCE DETAILS

Sterts Theatre, Liskeard

Tuesday 23rd July, 07:30 pm

Tickets: £10 (cons. £8, Child £6)

Box Office – http://www.sterts.co.uk

 

The Burrell, Truro

Wednesday 24th July, 07:30 pm

Tickets: £8 (Child £5, Family £22)

Box Office – http://www.crbo.co.uk

The Acorn Theatre, Penzance

Thursday 25th July, 07:30 pm

Tickets: £9 (cons. £7)

Box Office – www.crbo.co.uk

 

 

We’re Ready!

A week tomorrow we’ll be performing our first show in Cornwall – and at the end of our last rehearsal on Friday I definitely felt like we were ready.

When starting the crowdfunding campaign, we thought we would need 5 full days of rehearsal, so were raising enough money to cover those costs. However, as it became clear we wouldn’t reach our target, we initially scheduled just 4 possible rehearsal dates. One of these dates was unavailable, so we booked two, with the possibility of adding a third if needed. Which it didn’t! 

I already talked about our first day back – so on our second day of rehearsal, we went through entrances and exits. I figured out that I only ever enter from stage right, which made the whole thing pretty easy to remember! We then did a run, which went well – apart from a few fluffed lines – so followed with a line run. I’ll be going over my lines every day until the show, and we’ll have the nice long car journey to line run as well. So overalll, we’re feeling pretty geared up!

For those still interested in backing us – its the last day of the campaign – sponsume.com/project/evening-home-austens! I also thought I should let you know about how we’re spending the money that has been donated so far. An amount we haven’t worked out yet will be taken off for the website and for paypal. The rest will be £90 towards rehearsal costs, a donation in thanks for the loan of costumes, and whatever is left we’ll divide between the 3 of us, which will at least go towards expenses!

On the crowdfunding campaign, of course it would have been great to meet our total. I’m not entirely sure why we didn’t get fully funded, but I think these things are still a gamble. It has been an interesting learning curve for me, and I have been enjoying writing this blog. I will definitely continue with this blog until the show is over, and will keep posting whenever I have anything Austen-y to say! This mini-tour to Cornwall won’t be the end of An Evening at Home with the Austens – the hope to tour it again for a longer time is still very much alive! 

Info about the Cornwall tour and ticket bookings are here: http://www.ruffledumbrella.co.uk/RUC/An_Evening_at_Home_with_The_Austens.html

The DVD

Yesterday, I sat down to watch the DVD of our original production of “An Evening at Home with the Austens”. After a successful first day back at rehearsals, I thought it was worth a watch to see if there was anything I spotted that I thought could be improved on – it was also another way to reinforce the lines, and remind myself of all the entrances and exits.

Watching yourself on a recording is always a strange thing, and can sometimes feel a bit embarrassing. Johnny Depp famously never watches his films. It is something I have had to train myself to do, as it is very useful. Before now, the main use of watching recordings is when I’m submitting an audition video. Recordings of stage productions can be quite tricky, as theatre acting and film acting are very different, and I’ve previously been in productions which did not transfer mediums well.

So it was a great relief when watching “An Evening at Home with the Austens” that it did work very well on film. The style of the production is quite over the top anyway, due to the type of humour, so it didn’t matter when that came across on film. The set-up, as in previous blog posts, was to give the impression of a Georgian sketch show, with the feeling of Whose Line Is It Anyway? And it worked! It felt like a – admittedly low budget – episode of that, and is something I would be very happy to show other people! The camera was quite far away, and at the top of the raked seating, but for the most part a lot of the jokes carried!  The only real shame is that you can’t see the History of England masks, or some of the signs used. And of course facial expressions – but as the characters were larger than life physically, I think it was still pretty effective. 

It has given me a couple of ideas that would be worth looking at to improve it more for the next leg of the run, on top of the ones I could remember from performing. And that alone I think makes it worth getting a recording of your performances as often as you can – if you can bear to watch your own recording, that is. 

Phoebe 🙂 

You can get a copy of the DVD here: http://www.sponsume.com/project/evening-home-austens

Back in rehearsals!

Yesterday was our first rehearsal since our first performance of An Evening at Home with the Austens in April. And it went really well! Remembering lines was much easier than expected – most of them stuck, and I don’t think it’ll take too many goings over to make them all back again! 

We started the day with a chat about what bits of the show we’d like to improve, about how the crowdfunding campaigns doing, and about the publicity for the tour. Those latter are obviously important, but not the main focus of the day. 

The sections that we felt needed improving – a change in costume to represent one of the male characters I play(a riding crop being exchanged for the more obvious coat) which also had the added benefit of making a joke work better, some work on the women playing men – it won’t ever be as funny as a man making a woman, but the change should make it funnier, some character work on Mary Stanhope(for me at my request) and some jigging around of entrances and exits to make some of the clunkier bits clearer.

We then did a fairly low energy to mark it through, make sure we remembered our lines(which we mostly did) and when we were supposed to come on and off stage and where different bits of costume and props come(which I mostly didn’t) We then had a further discussion of other bits worth going over, then broke for lunch. 

Non-related to the show, but we did have a rather entertaining lunch, due to the neighbours next door to where we were rehearsing having various screaming matches. Not at us thankfully, but it did rather liven up our lunch break! I was then disappointed by what I thought were bluberries when I’d packed them into my lunch that morning, only to discover they were olives when I opened the tupperware 😦 

Anyway, so back to the show! After lunch we fine tuned the areas we’d picked out before lunch, and went over Sir William Montague which needed a bit of going over after the run, we then had (surprisingly) time to do another run! Which went much better, so we are generally feeling very confident about the whole thing.

Our next rehearsal is on Friday, and my homework before then is to watch the DVD of the show, and see if I think of any other sections which could do with the changes. My next post will be about that, and I find the always slightly painful experience of watching myself on film.

Phoebe 🙂

Regency World

Just a short but sweet post today!

Last week I contacted Jane Austen’s Regency World Magazine to see if they would be interested in featuring Ruffled Umbrella and An Evening at Home with the Austens – and they said yes! Just about to send them an email to discuss potential timings(hoping we can line it up with our Autumn tour) When it happens, I’ll make sure to post the article on here too!

Hopefully will have a longer post tomorrow once I’ve finished Pride and Prejudice!

Phoebe x