What do you think is a truth universally acknowledged?
Well during the 6th annual Old Mandeville Jane Austen Literary Festival on March 9-10, anyone who has an opinion will get to post it on a large display panel mounted on an easel and moved to various activity locations during the two-day event. Scores of responses will later be posted on the festival’s website, www.janeaustenfestival.org.
This newest addition to the popular two-day event, sponsored by the Mandeville-based Jane Austen Foundation of Louisiana, takes it cue from the first sentence of the classic Austen novel, Pride and Prejudice, which says, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”
But what other truths might be universally acknowledged? “We think those attending the festival this year will get into the spirit of this and provide us with some fascinating observations,” said Denelle Cowart, a festival board member and professor at Southeastern University in Hammond, who came up with the idea. A large sized writing tablet attached to the easel and with writing utensils will be set up at the Mandeville Trailhead, North Star Theater, Mandeville’s Spitzfaden Community Senior Center on Saturday and at The Lakehouse restaurant on Sunday where various festival events will take place and at each location those so inclined can complete the phrase, “it is a truth universally acknowledged that….”
This and other festival events recognize that 2013 marks the 200th anniversary of the 1813 publication of Austen’s enduring novel, Pride and Prejudice.
Activities will begin Saturday, March 9, at the Mandeville Trailhead Cultural Interpretive Center’s Depot Room with a 9-10 am lecture and historic artifacts display focusing on events in the world during the Regency Era in England in which Austen lived from the late 1700s to mid 1800s presented by Nathan Hall from the Jean Lafitte National Historic Park
From 9:30-10 am students at Lancaster and Madisonville elementary schools will present on the Trailhead amphitheater stage a production based on excerpts of letters from the early 1900s by Joseph Lancaster to Amanda Doerr who was to become his wife. He was the first superintendent of schools in St. Tammany Parish and his letters were published last year in a book called “Now and Always” edited by modern day relative Chris Garcia. That book was the focus of the popular Letters From The Attic display at last year’s Austen Festival.
The colorful Mr. Darcy Dramatic Reading Contest followed by the No Plain Janes Costume Contest will take place on the amphitheater stage from 10-11:30 am followed by an audience participation display on the stage of dances from the Regency Era presented by the Louisiana Vintage Dancers from 11:30-1 pm, acknowledging the roll of dance as a motif throughout the literary works of Austen.
From 9 am-1 pm in front of the stage, displays will include chances to a raffle basket, a quill pen writing activity for children by the St. Tammany Parish Library and costume displays. Back of the stage Jacqueline’s Hair Salon will offer for a fee hairstyles of the Austen era for women.
Festival co-founder Kerri Blache said those attending will be encouraged to dine at Old Mandeville restaurants from 1 pm until events resume at 2:30 Saturday.
And at 2:30 pm, activities shift to the North Star at Girod and Madison streets, three blocks south of the Trailhead. After a welcome and announcements, a panel discussion from 2:45-3:30 on Pride and Prejudice will feature Cowart and festival board member Daniel Mangiavellano of Tulane University and audience questions will be accepted. Arynne Fannin of Tulane will follow from 3:40-4:25 with a lecture and singing of salon music of the Regency Era. She will be followed by a lecture on English Tudor Times by William Robison, a professor from Southeastern.
All events at the Trailhead and North Star are free.
The Saturday schedule will conclude with a Dancing With Jane exhibition and public participation. For location details, see schedule. Dancing will be conducted again by the Vintage Dancers.
The festival concludes on Sunday, March 10, with all events from noon to 6 pm taking place on the second floor of The Lakehouse, restaurant, 2025 Lakeshore Drive. Admission is $35 or $25 for students and teachers with picture ID and includes a brunch, finale cake and champagne reception and several events during the afternoon.
Events begin at noon with a harp concert by the New Orleans Celtic Harp Ensemble until 1 pm interrupted briefly by a welcome and announcements at 12:15 by Blache and reading of an Austen prayer. From, 1-2 pm eight St. Tammany poets will read original works moderated by poet and festival organizer Richard Boyd. Also reading will be Eve Brouwer, Susan Newton, Mary Culver, Chopin Cusachs, Laurie Walsdorf, Michael Simon and Abby Stanga.
From 2-3 pm winners of the 2012 Perfect Love Letter Writing Contest, a popular feature of the festival, will read their winning entries and the 2013 winners will be announced. Following, Mary Moscary will lead those attending in a range of hands-on activities called “Only Mr. Darcy will do.” That will be followed at 5:15 with the cake and champagne reception with a cake donated by Cake by Sweet Samantha’s. Providing a musical background until 6 pm will be flute music by Les Ensembles Classique.
Also throughout the afternoon, those attending continue to purchase $1 raffle basket tickets with a drawing at the close of the festival and enter bids during a silent auction from noon to 6 pm at The Lakehouse. The buffet brunch featuring authentic dishes of the Regency Era will be available beginning at noon along with a cash bar.
Other details and any late changes in events will be posted at the festival website, www.janeaustenfestival.org. Please like up on Facebook for up to the minute announcements: “Jane Austen Literary Festival”