Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Belle of Amherst

I've been talking quite a bit about Farmer's Daughters recently, the first show in our summer season. But I thought today I'd mention our second show at Ennotville which is now on the cusp of starting rehearsals, William Luce's The Belle of Amherst.

As some of you may already be aware, The Belle of Amherst is a biographical portrait of the great American poetess Emily Dickinson. Reclusive, eccentric, some would even say crazy, very few of her poems were published during her lifetime, and it was only after she died and the bulk of her poems were discovered that her true genius came to light.

The action of the play is set when Emily is 53 years old. We have only one photograph of Emily, and that is from age 17, so it is merely conjecture as to what she looked like at that time in her life. Indeed, by age 53 it had been many, many years since she had even ventured outside her father's house.

This play was first made famous by Julia Harris, who performed the role on Broadway and in London. As a one-woman show it demands not only a very fine actress, but an engagement with the audience, and I feel that the intimate, nostalgic atmosphere of the Ennotville Library will be perfect for bringing this play to life.

Reading the script, I found this to be a remarkably accessible play - it's not dowdy intellectualism, and Emily is a character with so many facets that it's impossible not to be intrigued, amused or inspired by her words. The playwright has incorporated as much of Dickinson's poetry as he can into the story, resulting in a blend of poetry and dialogue that is very engaging.

This production will break new ground in Ennotville, with a "cabaret-style" seating arrangement, with tea and treats to enjoy during the performance. It will be like Emily herself has invited you over, and you are sitting in her living room as she regales you with the story of her life.

The show opens July 3rd. Just click on the "Buy Tickets" link in the sidebar to get your seats now!

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