2013 Programs

Saturday, July 13, 2013


"Creatures of Bliss and Mystery":  A Nineteenth-Century Children's Circus

Tim Van Egmond
Tim Van Egmond
Henry Lappen

Henry Lappen

Time:  1-4 pm
Location:   Emily Dickinson Museum (in case of rain, most activities will take place indoors at First Congregational Church, across the street from the Museum at 165 Main Street)
Fee: none (except where indicated)

It’s Circus Time at the Emily Dickinson Museum!  On Saturday, July 13, the Emily Dickinson Museum will present its annual "Creatures of Bliss and Mystery: A 19th-Century Children’s Circus," from 1 to 4 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.

This year's circus celebrates the 200th anniverary of the Homestead, where Emily Dickinson was born and lived for forty years.  Throughout the afternoon, circus goers can explore the museum grounds with a scavenger hunt and create fairy houses for the poetry fairies that live on the grounds.

Visitors are also invited to walk the “tightrope,” balance on stilts, and perfect their aim at ring toss. Children can also make musical instruments to play during the Parade Around the Grounds, which begins at 2:45 pm.

Folksinger and storyteller Tim Van Egmond will share lively tales and lead folksongs at 1:30 pm. Henry the Juggler will perform amazing tricks of hand and eye at 3 pm; afterward, he will offer an informal workshop for all wanna-be jugglers.

Guided visits to the poet’s bedroom will be offered throughout the afternoon (see schedule below). 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.  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.


1:15 p.m.   A Visit to Emily Dickinson's Bedroom*

1:30 p.m. Stories and Songs with Tim Van Egmond

2:15 p.m.   A Visit to Emily Dickinson's Bedroom*

2:45 p.m.   Parade Around the Grounds

3:00 p.m.   Henry the Juggler

3:45 p.m.   A Visit to Emily Dickinson's Bedroom* 

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


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.

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."

Directions and Parking