Belle of Amherst

The Belle is Back!
Emily Dickinson Museum Sponsors Benefit Performance
Of The Belle of Amherst featuring Barbara Dana

Belle of Amherst, Barbara Dana
We gratefully acknowledge the support
of these underwriters of this benefit performance of
The Belle of Amherst.
Blair, Cutting & Smith Insurance Agency, L.L.C.
Northampton Cooperative Bank
Elite Home Health Agency, Inc.
The Center for Cross Cultural Study
Jones Properties
Jones Group Realtors

Thursday, March 11, 2010
Time: 7 pm
Fee: Reserved seating is available for $50 per ticket; general admission tickets are available for $25 for adults, and $15 for students. 

The Emily Dickinson Museum presents a benefit performance of William Luce’s critically praised play, The Belle of Amherst, with acclaimed actress Barbara Dana at 7:00 pm, Thursday, March 11, at the Kirby Memorial Theater at Amherst College. Based on the life of Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), the one-woman play dramatically portrays the poet’s private thoughts, desires, and fears through extensive reference to her poetry, letters, and reminiscences of encounters with the significant people in her life. Immediately following the performance Ms. Dana will hold a talkback with the audience to describe how she created a portrayal of Emily Dickinson’s complex character for the stage. 

Reserved seating is available for $50 per ticket; general admission tickets are available for $25 for adults, and $15 for students. For tickets and information contact or call 413-542-5311.  Tickets are also available for purchase at A.J. Hastings on South Pleasant Street in Amherst.

Sponsors of the March 11 performance include PeoplesBank; Blair, Cutting and Smith Insurance Agency; The Center for Cross-Cultural Study; Elite Home Health Agency, Inc.; Jones Properties; Northampton Cooperative Bank; and Jones Group Realtors. “Thanks to the generous support of our business friends,” said executive director Jane Wald, “all proceeds from the production will directly benefit the Emily Dickinson Museum’s programs and operations.”

Ms. Dana is dedicating the March 11 performance to actress Julie Harris who, in Dana’s words, “is my acting idol and has been since I was a girl and aspiring actress." Ms. Harris played the title role in The Belle of Amherst when it opened on Broadway at the Longacre Theatre on April 28, 1976. She and director Charles Nelson Reilly brought the play to the Kirby Theater in Amherst the same year.

Since the play’s earliest performances, it has been popular with audiences and critics alike. Critic Elliott Norton of the Boston Herald American has written:  “Wonderfully entertaining, insightful, stirring, an endearing chronicle of a woman who lived a beautiful life in her private mind and heart.” Miss Harris won her fifth Tony Award as Best Actress for her portrayal, and Clare Bloom won an Emmy for her London Thames television performance. The Belle of Amherst has been translated into many languages, with thousands of productions in the United States, Canada and around the world.

Barbara Dana is an award-winning author, screenwriter, and actor both on stage and in film. Her Broadway stage credits include Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and William Inge’s Where’s Daddy? Ms. Dana has appeared in films and television programs including the PBS production of An Enemy of the People and the daytime drama As the World Turns.

A passionate reader and scholar of Emily Dickinson, Ms. Dana is the co-editor of Wider than the Sky: Essays and Meditations on the Healing Power of Emily Dickinson and the author of the 2009 novel for young adults, A Voice of Her Own: Becoming Emily Dickinson. Her work as a writer gives Dana a unique perspective on portraying Dickinson on stage: “What actor gets to study their “character” for 10 years before they play it? What a gift!”

Directing Ms. Dana in her portrayal of The Belle of Amherst is Austin Pendleton, who has directed many plays on and off Broadway, including The Little Foxes, Uncle Vanya, and Toys in the Attic. A director, playwright, and actor, Pendleton was once Barbara Dana’s acting teacher, has appeared with her in films and television, and directed her original play War in Paramus.

Directions to Kirby Memorial Theater, 200 South Pleasant Street, Amherst, Massachusetts: From Amherst town center (at the Common) drive south on South Pleasant Street/Route 116S for one-quarter mile. Turn left at the sign for the Amherst College Admission's Office and follow circular drive. Kirby Theater is located on the right next to the Admission's Office.  Parking is available on the circular drive in front of Kirby Theater, in the small adjacent parking lots, and on side streets.  A map of Amherst College campus is available here.