“The Belle of Amherst” planning April visit to Bennington’s Oldcastle Theatre

19th century --- Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), American poet.  Early portrait.  Miniature painting in the possession of the Dickinson family.  Undated. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

19th century — Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), American poet. Early portrait. Miniature painting in the possession of the Dickinson family. Undated. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Paula Mann portrays the iconic American poet. Emily Dickinson, in the Oldcastle Theatre Company’s production of “The Belle of Amherst by William Luce, for three nights only, Friday April 1st through Sunday April 3rd.

Paula Mann

Paula Mann

The play delicately explores the life of America’s greatest woman poet at various stages in her experience from the age of 15, when she was full of hope and success, until she died at 56, a virtual recluse with her door closed against society. In the course of her monologue Paula Mann’s Dickinson wanders through all stages of her life. As a young schoolgirl, she flirts with boys at Amherst parties and suffers under the headmistress, referred to as “The Dragon”. At one point, she describes her Aunt Libbie as “the only male relative on the female side.” She also portrays her as an elderly woman trying to face her own death with courage.

This Is a Fundraiser for Oldcastle. Tickets are $25, and can be purchased by calling the box office at 802-447-0564.

unnamedAdding sparkle to the event is the presence of the author of the book Emily Dickinson, “Virgin Recluse” and Rebel: 36 Poems, Their Backstories, Her Life by author Lea Newman, available for purchase, courtesy of the Bennington Bookshop. Newman will be available to sign your copy after the play.

Newman’s dramatically revealing book makes Emily Dickinson’s poetry more accessible than ever before.

Who was this closeted genius, who dressed in white and lived an outwardly uneventful life while secretly writing heart-stopping poetry that was discovered in a locked box in her room after her death? How did this recluse come to write sublime erotic poetry while living the circumspect life of a New England spinster? Growing up as she did in a household that prayed together daily, and in a society where Christianity dominated every aspect of life, how did she come to rebel against God and condemn him as a serial killer? And how does her life help to illuminate her poetry?

The Oldcastle salute to the secretive writer doesn’t promise to answer all these questions, but it certainly won’t be an evening of predictable poetry either.

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