. . . through the acting skills of Jan Turnquist, performer extraordinaire and director of Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House. From Jan’s website she writes, “Due to a ‘minor carriage accident,’ 20th century audiences have the opportunity to ‘meet’ Louisa May Alcott through the living history portrayal of Jan Turnquist.” She swept into the room in era costume, ‘apologizing’ for the intrusion, explaining about her carriage accident and how she would be with us for a few hours. Delighted that the audience ‘recognized’ her and knew of Little Women, “Louisa” then shared entertaining insight into her writings, her friendships with Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, her father Bronson’s then-radical views on education, and other important 19th century issues such as suffrage, abolition and the underground railroad.
Because the show was sold out, I had to stand in the lobby to watch and could only take in about half the show since the doors to the room had to be closed due to noise. But Jan’s performance definitely made me want to see more. I especially enjoyed her insights about Bronson and his educational methods. There were many teachers in the room and it was fun to see “Louisa” explaining her father’s methods and philosophy as if they were brand new and controversial while the audience knew they were very much in use.
I fantasized about what it would be like to be so immersed in Louisa’s character as to take questions from the audience and be able to answer in her own authentic voice. I sensed a lot of research and work going into something that looked so effortless to the casual observer. And I marvel at the commitment of people like Jan, and the authors I’ve met through this blog, who devote so much time to Louisa so that others can know about her wonderful work. It certainly strengthened my resolve to keep up with my own immersion process.
Jan was kind enough to send me her performance schedule and I’ve posted it on the Events page (check under Massachusetts and Connecticut).
In the meantime I’ve assembled a quick slide show so you can see Jan during her performance. I highly recommend taking in this performance if you live in the area.