2014 Programs

Lantern in Dickinson's bedroom

"Before You Became Improbable"

An immersive theatrical journey inspired by  Emily Dickinson’s poetry and letters to T.W. Higginson (Premiere)

By John Bechtold, produced in partnership with the Emily Dickinson Museum

Dates:  September 25-27, 2014

Time:  by appointment, with numerous start times between 6:30-8 pm. As the journey is designed for 1-2 participants at a time, participants will indicate their preferred arrival time on the reservation page.  Please note that participants will be journeying through varied terrain in downtown Amherst for much of the performance. At journey’s end, audience members will convene in the Dickinson parlor where they will share insights and experiences with the playwright and each other. 

Location:  Begins at the Emily Dickinson Museum.

Tickets:  $25 adults, $20 Museum members, $15 students  Reservations are required (only 48 tickets are available each night). 
**PLEASE NOTE:  As of September 26, very few tickets remain for the show.  To be placed on a waiting list, click here.

A Letter always feels to me like immortality because it is the mind alone without corporeal friend...there seems a spectral power in thought that walks alone...

After eight years of letters and poems exchanged between the two of them, T.W. Higginson arrived one day in Amherst to finally meet his elusive friend, Emily Dickinson.  Before You Became Improbable reimagines the day of that meeting and allows the audience members to explore it in an intimate, personal way.  

Join us at the Emily Dickinson Museum for an evening of theater, perhaps unlike any you’ve experienced before.  Equipped only with a pair of headphones, you will embark on an immersive journey in which Amherst past and present will blur together - with the poetry and prose of Emily Dickinson to guide you.

I have wished for you …and had you an hour unengrossed, it would be almost priceless.

Throughout your one-hour journey, which begins and ends at the Dickinson Homestead, you will be guided by the sounds, sights and people around you.  As you travel through a secretive route through Amherst en route to the Dickinson grounds, you will uncover stories of a woman who would “not cross her Father’s ground to any house or town” and captured the imagination of the man who served as her literary confidante for the rest of her life. 

Designed as a theater experience for one or two people at a time, you should come prepared with comfortable walking shoes, the willingness to walk for much of the show and a venturesome spirit.  Upon your return to the Museum, you may share your experiences with fellow travelers and the playwright in Emily Dickinson’s parlor.

I am out with lanterns, looking for myself.

About John Bechtold

John Bechtold is head of the Performing Arts Department at Amherst Regional High School and director of DASAC, a progressive summer arts camp held each year at Deerfield Academy.  With a special focus on theater and the creative arts, Bechtold has created and directed plays and immersive theater experiences at Double-Edge Theater in Ashfield, Mass.; Double-Fringe Festival in Greenfield, Mass (Best of Show Award, 2012).; and Amherst Regional High School.  Bechtold's passion for immersive theater is rooted in part in his experiences working with the London-based company Punchdrunk during their production of Sleep No More in both Boston and New York.