If I may be so bold as to speak for the other members of Team Tilney, we really had a fun time “explaining it all”–that is, why we think Mr. Tilney is Austen’s best hero, as well as exploding some of the myths and scandalous falsehoods that have been circulated about him–to the audience at the JASNA AGM.
I conceived the idea a little over a year ago and browbeat, er, persuaded several fellow Tilney fans to join in with me, and submitted the idea as a breakout presentation for the AGM. Imagine my surprise and delight when the organizers contacted me and asked if we would be willing to have our presentation be a special event in the main ballroom before the official opening of the AGM. That sounded like fun, and as Heather pointed out, also had the advantage of getting it over with early and then we could relax and enjoy the rest of the AGM, and wouldn’t have to miss anything. We were also really pleased that the organizers seemed to catch the idea that we wanted to have some fun with it and be entertaining.
While we had an outline and the basic idea of what we wanted to do, we didn’t seriously begin to get into details until a couple of months ago. Kelley Brown (known on the Janeite Interwebs as Kelley B.) used her professional project manager skills to keep us organized and also arranged for a weekly conference call that was really helpful in getting a far-flung group organized and on the same page.
After some discussion, we realized that we needed something extra…a live body to read Mr. Tilney’s lines. We could read them, but it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun. Teammate Lynn Marie Macy, who is a playwright, director, and actress (we have sung the praises of her wonderful stage adaptation of NA many, many times), suggested hiring a local actor, and used her connections to find a good prospect, Joe Homes. We couldn’t audition him in person (STOP SNICKERING, YOU GUTTERSNIPES) but he had a great background and the right look, and seemed perfect in every way. We had no idea how perfect he would turn out to be! Lynn Marie worked with him over the phone and e-mail, and he entered into the idea of the presentation with great gusto.
In one e-mail, teammate Heather Laurence (known to AustenBlog’s Gentle Readers as Cub Reporter and West Coast Bureau Correspondent Heather L.) jokingly wrote a partial parody of the hilarious Old Spice commercials featuring Isaiah Mustafa. We immediately said “WE MUST DO THIS!” and had Heather write up a full treatment.
We decided we would have “Henry” sitting in the audience and then introduce him as a surprise guest. We told only AGM co-coordinators Frank McClanahan and Mary Margaret Benson and asked them to keep it on a need-to-know basis.
The presentation came together very quickly. Lynn Marie wrote some great dialogues and suggested we use fans as props and as a running gag (that Henry made us hot, of course) and also got together a costume for Joe to wear. We assigned topics and sorted out what we would say, and after two quick practices at the AGM with everyone present, including Joe, we were ready for an audience of Janeites on Friday morning.
As planned, we had Joe sitting in the front row, off to one side, as the audience came in to choose their seats. I warned him that some of the ladies, not knowing he was a participant and assuming he was an audience member, might be so thrilled to see a young man so into Jane and NA that he would dress in Regency costume outside the ball at an AGM, that they might want to, er, pet him a little bit, and that he shouldn’t be too alarmed. Sure enough, while we were attending to last-minute details, a few ladies approached him and were clearly thrilled to see him.
We were introduced by my friend Lorraine Hanaway, which was a thrill and an honor (and who by the way figured out what was going on about as quickly as Henry figured out Catherine’s mind outside his mother’s room), and I talked a little bit about why I like Henry Tilney. I introduced each member of the team and invited them to talk a little bit about what they like about Henry. Then I said, “You may notice we have an extra chair up here, and we have invited a special guest to join us. He’s a graduate of Oxford University–”
–and there was a SHRIEK from the audience–
“…his turn-ons are horrid novels, large dogs, and a true Indian muslin; his turn-offs are neat freaks, imprecise language, and greatcoats with insufficient capes.”
The excitement in the audience, which was cottoning on, was palpable at this point.
“Joining us all the way from Woodston, Gloucestershire, please welcome the Reverend Henry Tilney.”
Lynn Marie’s Spousal Support Unit, David, who was sitting in the audience, said he felt the hormone rush go past him at this moment! There was a huge ovation and great excitement as Joe took the stage and did the Old Spice parody. With Heather’s permission, I reproduce the script below:
Hello ladies. Look at your Mister Darcy. Now back to me. Now look at Captain Wentworth. Now back to me. Sadly, those gentlemen are not me. But if they knew enough about muslin to buy their own cravats and were more nice than wise, they could be like me.
Look down. Back up. Where are you? You’re in the Lower Rooms with the gentleman your gentleman could be like. I’m asking you to dance. Unlike some gentlemen who refuse to dance, I love to dance, and you are handsome enough to tempt me.
What’s in your hand? Back at me. I have it. I’m reading that novel you love. I’m reading it to my sister.
Anything is possible when your gentleman is Henry Tilney.
I have a puppy. (Arf!)
[whistle Old Spice theme]
He really did have a puppy, a beanie baby, which Heather wrestled away from her youngest to bring along. And of course he had a copy of Udolpho to read to his sister. 😉 Several people have asked if we recorded this. We didn’t, but there might be a video upcoming, though not for a month or so: watch this space. 🙂
“Henry” took his place among us and we proceeded to explain why Henry Tilney is made of awesome with awesome sauce, dusted with awesome powder and served on a bed of leafy green awesome. It certainly helped our cause to have Da Man himself right there with us, handsome and charming, and reading all his best lines OUT OF THE NOVEL, YES! with panache.
We did the Team Tilney cheer: “TILNEY RULES AND DARCY DROOLS, GOOOOO TILNEY!” and the presentation was over. We were immediately surrounded by delighted audience members, who told us how much they enjoyed the presentation, and when Sheryl Craig (the editor of JASNA News) approached me for a picture, I looked around to find Joe, and discovered that he was surrounded by paparazzi!
Several ladies asked if Mr. Tilney would be at the
Cotillion Ball AGM ball, and were most disappointed to discover that he would not be. (The Spousal Support Units joked that we should have auctioned off a dance with Mr. Tilney!)
We all were approached all weekend by people who told us how much they enjoyed the presentation, and we’re so glad that they did, and of course glad it went well and started off the AGM with a fun bang, as intended. We also hope we might have made a few people re-evaluate their opinion of Mr. Tilney, and even if they’re not quite ready to move him ahead of their favorite hero, at least they have begun to see his many charms.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank my fellow team members, Heather, Kelley, and Lynn Marie, who not only agreed to do this with me but entered into it in with so much spirit and enthusiasm and talent. It was very much a group effort and everyone’s contributions, both of organization and of content, were vital. Also I’d like to thank Joe Homes, who was a delight in every way. He learned his lines and accepted direction at long distance, nailed his character and performance, and handled the fangirls with great aplomb. We all thank the Spousal Support Units, Jeff Laurence and David Macy, for taking photos, holding bags, giving opinions, and acquiring much-needed Pepsis at critical moments. For those who asked, my little Henry medallion pin was a gift from my friend Anna, who made it, and I’ll ask her if she wants to make them to sell. Our Team Tilney t-shirts were purchased from DeeDee Baldwin’s Janeite Supply Shop, which also has other Austen-related goodies.
ETA: It occurred to me that I should add a link to Heather’s website, Solitary Elegance, and particularly to her information about NA adaptations, as we mentioned it in the program. Do check it out!
27 thoughts on “Tilney Rules and Darcy Drools: Team Tilney Explains It All”
*swoon* Where’s my fan?
Well done ladies and gentleman. Still giggling. Will be for some time. Auctioning a dance with Rev. Tilney would have been very profitable for JASNA. Maybe next time!
Many thanks to Team Tilney.
JASNA, heck. We would have to give poor Joe combat pay, I think.
Speaking of combat pay, we might have had a “Jane Austen Fight Club” amongst Mr. Tilney’s potential partners had he chosen to attend the ball.
It certainly would have lived up to the “Mayhem” portion of the convention!
I touched his SLEEVE.
Fangirls. Sheesh. 😉
Keep an eye on Dorothy. I heard she may auction off his phone number to supplement her pension fund.
More likely to supplement her Stalk Richard Armitage On Set Of Hobbit Fund.
Stephanie, I’ve been having a running conversation with you ever since the AGM, so if you’re hearing voices it isn’t Jane this time. As I reread Wandering Eye, your Regency aplomb continues to humble me–which makes your “I touched his SLEEVE” comment so gratifying.
Thanks for posting this Maggie. It is a wonderful reminder for those that were in attendance and found Team Tilney to be one of the highlights of the conference. Perhaps more importantly there are a significant number of our local members who cannot travel to AGM’s and your summary brings to life what they missed. Bravo to you all – it must be so gratifying to have things not only turn out well, but turn out brilliantly!
So much fun!!! The entire event was a blast. Everyone was so lovely with their compliments for Team Tilney but I think every compliment I got was followed by a “so about that actor…” segue. I was even asked if we flew him in from England. I think Heather L’s hubby got a picture of him giving his autograph. Ah, celebrity. Thanks for posting this. I now have proof that I was there. (Stupid camera and its dead batteries).
Even before the AGM, I was bumming over having to miss the Team Tilney presentation because of a conflict with the Regional Coordinators’ workshop. I’m bumming x 10 now–but this post captured the fun delightfully. Thanks, Mags–both for the post and for the honorary Team Tilney membership you were kind enough to bestow!
It should be explained (as she is no doubt too modest to do so) that A. Marie was the winner of the AGM quiz, which of course had an NA theme, with a perfect score! Thus I was moved to bestow the honorary Team Tilney membership.
Brilliant! I might have to add JASNA to my big list of Reasons Why I’m Not at Work.
This is adorable. I wish I could have been there! I hope you do a video of it soon!
I had congratulated myself on attending the two morning dance workshops – but look what I missed! Whah!
What a wonderful description; I almost feel as if I had been there — and, man, do I wish I could have been! Your “Team Tilney” presentation sounds like it was simply INSPIRED, from start to finish. Those of us who have enjoyed your blog for years know of “Team Tilney” of course, but now the rest of JASNA (or at least those who were lucky enough to be present) know, too. Congratulations on a job well done, Mags!
This made me smile all over again. You guys were great!
I … squealed while reading this. I don’t even know. The fans, the Old Spice, the readings; I agree with Cathy Allen, “inspired” is the best word to apply. Well done everybody!
Wish I could have been there! Sounds like a great time.
I wish you could have been there, too. 🙂
Forgive me Mr. Darcy… I think I am in love with Mr. Tilney!
Put the blame on Mags!
Mags and friends…I am learning a new skill tonight….. uploading Mr. Tilney videos to Youtube.
You can see the video clips on my blog The Little White Attic and are welcome to link or repost. Thanks again for that fun panel discussion. It really was a highlight of the AGM for me.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!! I just can’t stop smiling after watching these again. So glad you had a camera with you!
I really enjoyed these Team Tilney video clips- especially Henry reading from Ackermann’s Journal 1811. ..you girls must feel as rock stars ! 🙂
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