I spent my week-end enjoying the enduring legacy of my favorite two authors: William Shakespeare and Jane Austen.
Louisville, happily my hometown for almost fifty years, is fortunate to have the longest running series of “Shakespeare in the Park” dramas in the country. This year the company is doing eight different plays. On the Fourth of July my friends and I went to see Henry V. Two thirds of the way through the drama the fireworks began all around. Too bad Henry and his army didn’t have guns; the sound effects would have been quite appropriate.
This Saturday we went to see Midsummer Night’s Dream. We got there too late to get a bench seat so sat on the grass behind tall lounge chairs and a tree or two. Anytime the players got too low or too far upstage we had to guess what was happening. For example, we didn’t really get a clear view of the famous “wall’s stones” speech. But it must have been high point of the night, because the rest of the crowd hooted and cheered.
Then Sunday we went to Locust Grove, a famous Louisville historic home, built by the sister and brother-in-law of the city’s founder, George Rogers Clark. We toured the house, saw lace being made and found out that back stairs from one of the bedrooms was designed for travelers. It was all fascinating stuff.
However, the main reason we were at Locust Grove was to join in the fun of the Jane Austen Festival, held annually on the beautiful grounds of the mansion. There were gentlemanly duels, ladies trying their hand at archery, Mr. Darcy look alike contests, formal teas and costumes galore. In fact at the annual promenade on Saturday, the Louisville Jane Austen Festival won accolades as the largest Austen era costume parade in the world, with 491 Regency-costumed participants, thereby easily beating out the reigning champion, Bath, the famous English resort town, which had 409 at its last festival. The Louisville festival has been trying for several years to best Bath, and they finally succeeded.
As you can see, Louisville is a lot of fun. You should all try it sometime.