The Honaker Redbud Festival is proud to include a performance of "The Belle of Amherst" in its 2020 Festival Schedule. This special event is a part of Southwest Virginia Community College's Festival of the Arts and will take place on Saturday, April 18, 2020, at 7:00 p.m. at the Honaker Community Library, a branch of the Russell County Library. The Honaker Community Library is located adjacent to the Redbud Festival site at New Peoples Bank.
The Belle of Amherst by William Luce is a funny, wise, poignant rendering of America's most loved - and least known - poet, Emily Dickinson. The one-woman play, adapted and performed by Sybil Rosen, is an intimate glimpse into the poet's unusual life - her legendary seclusion, the close circle of family, the men who loved her.
Rosen has long admired Dickinson's poetry but when she encountered the poet herself in the play, she fell in love. "The language," she says, "most of it taken from her letters and journals, is so beautiful and witty."
The play was first produced on Broadway in 1976 and starred Julie Harris, for whom it was written. In approaching the piece for rural audiences, Rosen knew she would have to cut it. "It probably ran three hours on Broadway, and I felt that would be too long for our intended audience." So she cobbled together an hour-long version. "I'd be performing mostly in libraries and living rooms and I wanted to include the parts that would make Emily most accessible. She was considered a small-town eccentric, so I thought, hey, we could all relate to that.
"What I love most about the play is that it's a description of a writing life, a deliberate narrowing of daily life so that as an artist she could go most deeply into her art."
Sybil Rosen is an award-winning playwright, children's novelist, and short story writer. A young adult novel, Speed of Light won the 1999 Sydney Taylor Award for Older Readers, given by the Association of Jewish Libraries. The book was also nominated for the 2000 Mark Twain Award and was subsequently published in German. A collection of short stories, all of which take place on a Greyhound bus, Riding the Dog won the Gold Medal for Fiction/Short Story in the 2015 Readers' Favorite International Book Award Contest. Rosen currently lives in rural Georgia where she is a lifetime member of the Friends of the Whitesburg Public Library.
SWCC Festival of the Arts Presentation of "The Belle Amherst"