Monday, August 15, 2011

Tea & Scones, Jane Austen, and Door County

Article written for JASNA newsletter:

I spent an enjoyable afternoon in Door County on August 6 specifically to catch the Door Shakespeare company’s performance of ‘Pride and Prejudice’.  Located in Baileys Harbor, the Door Shakespeare company holds outdoor theatre performances in the gardens of Bjorklunden, a lovely lodge set on the shore of Lake Michigan and surrounded by trees.

Throughout the summer of 2011, the company has been performing ‘Pride & Prejudice’ on alternate days with a performance of Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’, with the same actors performing in both shows.  In addition to the performance itself, the company had special dinner show evenings, wine event evenings, and the one I chose:  an afternoon tea prior to the show. 

The afternoon tea was really lovely and thoroughly enjoyable.  In it’s second year, the Harbor Fish Market & Grille in Baileys Harbor handled the offering of the afternoon tea.  The table was set for 18 and was loaded with beautiful mismatched teapots, cups, and saucers, and an array of food that left everyone unbuttoning waistbands.  They served a variety of teas (in tea bags, for which they apologized, but the size of the crowd made it necessary) with sweeteners, fresh orange and lemon slices, and freshly picked mint leaves.  There were scones, crumpets, breads, cucumber sandwiches, gravlax, fresh fruit, jams, lemon curd, and marmalade.  The table was set with lovely fresh flowers, crisp linens, and soft tea lights. 

At the table were a variety of people from various places in Wisconsin and Illinois, as well as a Dad and two children from England.  Made up mostly of women, there were three men and two boys in the group as well and a stunning view of the harbor and Lake Michigan outside the windows.
Kitty, Mrs. Bennett, and Lydia

As our party sat down and began enjoying the lovely service, Mrs. Bennett, Kitty, and Lydia arrived – all in costume and in character.  They chatted with the whole party and the younger girls spent a lot of time searching among the group for ‘eligibles’.

Later that evening, within the grounds of Bjorklunden, the theatre-goers walked through a wooded pathway lighted with solar and twinkle lights to the open-air theatre where the Door Shakespeare company holds it’s productions.  Looking very much like the parade grounds where jousting tournaments might be held, the seats all filled quickly and the production began.  The actors are in a clearing directly in front of the first row of seats and frequently duck back through the trees and enter again down the center aisle or from one of the sides, giving you the impression that you’re right in the middle of the action.

Mary Bennett, Mrs. Bennett, Mrs. Lucas, Sir Lucas, Bingley,Darcy, Caroline Bingley

The production was adapted for the stage, and the scenes run directly from one event into another with no pauses to explain the action.  For instance, the girls will be walking home from Meryton talking about an upcoming ball and immediately walk into the setting of the ball.  It moved things along nicely and took nothing away from Jane Austen or ‘Pride & Prejudice’ as her original dialogue was used throughout.  Many of the actors play multiple roles, and all is handled very professionally.  As in the book, Mrs. Bennett, Lady Catherine, and Mr. Collins are all delightful – the actors threw themselves into the parts with vigor!

For the summer of 2012, the two performances will both be Shakespeare (‘Hamlet’ and ‘A Comedy of Errors’), and I would definitely recommend that you take the opportunity to attend a performance of this fine production company in its beautiful setting.  For further information, go to

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