2012 Programs

Saturday, July 14, 2012
"Creatures of Bliss and Mystery":  A Nineteenth-Century Children's Circus

Tim Van Egmond
Tim Van Egmond
Marty Figley
Marty Rhodes Figley
Henry Lappen

Henry Lappen

Time:  noon-4 pm
Location:   Emily Dickinson Museum
Fee: none (except where indicated)

It’s Circus Time at the Emily Dickinson Museum!  On Saturday, July 14, the Emily Dickinson Museum will present its annual "Creatures of Bliss and Mystery: A 19th-Century Children’s Circus," from Noon to 4:00 pm on the Emily Dickinson Museum lawn. Especially appropriate for children ages 3 to 10 (accompanied by adults), this event is free (except where noted) and open to the public. The Museum is located at 280 Main Street.

All afternoon, circus goers are invited to walk the “tightrope,” balance on stilts, and perfect their aim at ring toss. Children can also make animal masks and festive flags to sport during the Parade Around the Grounds, which begins at 2:15 pm. 

Under the circus tent, visitors can join folksinger and storyteller Tim Van Egmond for two performances of lively tales and folksongs, at 12:30 pm and again at 3:30 pm. Henry the Juggler will perform amazing tricks of hand and eye at 2:30 pm; afterwards, he will offer an informal workshop for all wanna-be jugglers. 

A highlight of the 2012 Circus will be a reading from Emily and Carlo, a delightful new children’s book that celebrates the poet’s relationship with her beloved dog.  Author Marty Rhodes Figley will read from the book at 1:30 pm.

New this year are guided visits to the poet’s bedroom. Especially appropriate for young children, the fifteen-minute tours will introduce visitors to Emily Dickinson and her poetry in the room most associated with her and her work.  Tours will take place at 1:15 and 3:15 pm and are limited to 15 people each.  Tickets are required and will be available at the event welcome table on a first-come, first-served basis.  The cost per ticket is $1 (children must be accompanied by an adult).   In addition, the Museum will offer its regular schedule of guided tours from 10 am to 5 pm. 


Noon              Circus Grounds Open with crafts and games all afternoon!

12:30 p.m.      Stories and Songs with Tim Van Egmond 

1:15 p.m.        A Visit to Emily Dickinson's Bedroom*
1:30 p.m.        Marty Figley reads from Emily and Carlo 
2:15 p.m.         Parade Around the Grounds

2:30 p.m.        Henry the Juggler 

3:15 p.m.        A Visit to Emily Dickinson's Bedroom* 

3:30 p.m.        Stories and Songs with Tim Van Egmond

*Tickets required; fee of $1 per ticket.  Available from welcome table on first-first come, first-served basis.  


With questions, contact Valerie Gramling, program coordinator, at vgramling@emilydickinsonmuseum.org or 413-542-2034.

About the Performers

Folksinger and storyteller Tim Van Egmond has been delighting audiences all over the country, weaving together tales and tunes. He performs on a variety of traditional instruments, including the hammered dulcimer, conga drum, guitar and limberjack (a dancing wooden rhythm puppet). His dynamic style makes stories come alive, and his gift for encouraging participation makes for high-spirited programs.

Marty Rhodes Figley is the author of several historically based books for children, including The Schoolchildren's Blizzard and Saving the Liberty Bell.  She is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and a member of the Emily Dickinson International Society.  Her latest book Emily and Carlo is about the poet Emily Dickinson and her beloved Newfoundland dog.  Marty grew up in Missouri, but now lives in Annandale, Virginia with her husband, Paul, and their fabulous Airedale terrier, Scarlett—who proves that what Emily Dickinson said is correct—the dog is the noblest work of art!

Henry the Juggler has been seen by tens of thousands up and down the east coast, demonstrating the apparatus of his trade--balls, clubs, rings, and torches--at theaters, schools, libraries, festivals and business districts. Henry has been performing and teaching juggling for more than 25 years, and is an active member of the International Jugglers Association and the Hats Off Performers Guild.

About the Event

The title of the Museum’s annual event, “Creatures of Bliss and Mystery,” comes from recollections of a home-grown circus produced by Emily Dickinson’s niece and nephews: "It never occurred to us that we were not creatures of bliss and mystery—that the Ringmaster was really Ned with trousers tucked into rubber boots, cracking his whip and making jokes with the clown, Will Mather in private life, stuffed out with a pillow, red spots painted on his face, —or that the performance was a bit less dazzling than the one we had seen the day before, —especially if Ned sang his circus song picked up from the real ring."

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