The Top 1-Woman Play of All-Time?

Certainly William Luce’s The Belle of Amherst, definitively performed by the late Julie Harris would be a contender.

The play is about middle-aged Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), arguably America’s great female poet, looking back on her life. She discusses her childhood, parents, other family members and friends, her college years, her character, her poetry, her relationship with Nature and two key men in her life, and death.

In addition to many lines quoted, complete poems quoted include:
-“If I can stop one Heart from breaking”
-“I dwell in Possibility”
-“There’s been a Death, in the Opposite House”
-“To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee”
-“I’ll tell you how the sun rose”
-“Perhaps the Kingdom of Heaven’s changed”
-“We grow accustomed to the Dark”
-“Some keep the Sabbath going to Church”
-“I like to see it lap the Miles”
-“I was the slightest in the House”
-“I taste a liquor never brewed”
-“Safe in their Alabaster Chambers”
-“A great Hope fell”
-“Success is counted sweetest”
-“I’m Nobody! Who are you?”
-“Wild Nights! Wild Nights!”
-“Again–his voice is at the door”
-“I cannot live with You”
-“I got so I could take his name”
-“Will there really be a ‘Morning’?”
-“A narrow Fellow in the Grass”
-“My life closed twice before its close”
-“The Spider holds a Silver Ball”
-“Nobody knows this little Rose”
-She died–this way the way she died.”
-“Hope” is the thing with feathers”
-“I never saw a Moor”
-“I tie my Hat–I crease my Shawl”
-“I reason, Earth is short”
-“Because I could not stop for Death”
-“This is my letter to the World”
-“It’s all I have to bring today”.

Harris’s Emily is a very intense passionate poet. She maintains a high key in both voice and expression throughout the play, but the viewer has to remember that this is a live stage performance. and Harris has to project. Her performance won several awards including a Tony back in 1977 and an International Emmy later in 1987 for a U.K. performance. This is the best video on Dickinson other than the memorable, 60-minute, illuminating Voices and Visions VHS from 1988.

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