Annual Birthday Celebration Fund-raiser

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Barbara Dana as the Belle of Amherst
Barbara Dana

A Party for "perfect crowds of admirers"
Reception and preview performance of selections from
The Belle of Amherst
a play by William Luce
Featuring Barbara Dana

5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Lewis-Sebring Dining Commons, Valentine Hall, Amherst College campus
Tickets $30, $50, $100, and $1,000. Reservations required.

"I expect I shall be the belle of amherst when I reach my 17th [179th!] year. I don't doubt that I shall have perfect crowds of admirers at that age."

This year's annual benefit celebration of Emily Dickinson's 179th brithday (December 10, 1830) is a timely opportunity for the museum's supporters to engage in active stewardship of one of America's greatest treasures, her Amherst home. In light of the fallen ceiling in the front parlor of the Dickinson Homestead in late October and the resulting preservation work, it is more important than ever for Emily to have 'perfect crowds of admirers.'

The sparkling Victorian birthday party includes a special preview of William Luce's now-classic one-woman play, The Belle of Amherst, performed by acclaimed actress and author Barbara Dana. The complete performance is scheduled for Spring 2010. First staged in 1976, The Belle of Amherst earned Julie Harris her fifth Tony award as Best Actress. Ms. Harris, who is now the Emily Dickinson Museum’s honorary chair, presented The Belle at Amherst College’s Kirby Theater thirty years ago.

The Belle of Amherst is a whimsical one-woman show based on the life of Emily Dickinson. Told in two acts, this play gives a voice to one of America’s greatest poets with monologue drawn largely from Dickinson’s own poetry and letters. Using a stream of consciousness flow of poetry and musings, Emily Dickinson is brought to life before the eyes of her audience. 

Barbara Dana has expressed her longstanding interest in Emily Dickinson as both actress and author.  Her first Dickinson-related book, Wider than the Sky: Essays and Meditations on the Healing Power of Emily Dickinson (Kent State University Press), edited with Cindy McKenzie, was released in 2007. Her new novel for young adults, A Voice of Her Own: Becoming Emily Dickinson (HarperCollins), was published in March 2009. Dana’s portrayal of The Belle of Amherst debuted in July 2009 at the Emily Dickinson International Conference in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.

The party for "Perfect Crowds of Admirers" is also a fund-raiser for the Museum to benefit its educational and preservation mission. Tickets are available at the following levels:
Admirer $30
Special Admirer $50
Grand Admirer $100
Perfect Admirer $1,000

Information and reservations to the event are available by contacting the Emily Dickinson Museum at or 413-542-5311.

This event is sponsored in part by the following generous business partners:
Elite Home Health Agency