Plattsburgh “The Belle of Amherst,” a one-woman play written by William Luce, will be performed at the North Country Cultural Center for the Arts next weekend.
The play was originally directed by Charles Nelson Reilly and starred Julie Harris. It opened on April 28, 1976, at the Longacre Theatre in Manhattan, where it ran for 116 performances.
On Saturday, May 18, Kathleen Recchia, Grant Coordinator for the NCCCA, will assume the role of poet Emily Dickinson, the play’s only character.
The performance, which is part of the NCCCA’s spring performance series, will invite the audience into Emily Dickinson’s living room.
“It’s to make the audience feel like they’re right there, like they’re her guest,” Recchia said. “Sometimes she’s speaking directly to the audience, sometimes she’s speaking to a character who the audience does not see because she’s reliving a scene in her life, and sometimes she’s just kind of reminiscing or reliving a scene internally, and maybe using poetry to show that.”
Dickinson wrote more than 1,800 poems, many of which were never published until after her death on May 15, 1886.
Her large body of work does not fit neatly into categories, and much of it reflects loneliness and a feeling of want while also suggesting the potential for happiness.
In “The Belle of Amherst,” her poems are used to advance her life, but they are not used in the chronological order that she wrote them.
Instead, the playwright put them into the time period that they fit into her life.
Recchia has been performing “Belle of Amherst” for about six years, and has even used scenes from the play to try out for parts in other productions.
The last time she performed it was one year ago at the Whallonsburg Grange.
“It’s very cathartic,” Recchia said. “There’s something that touches me when I do it, and I certainly hope it touches the audience. It’s a chance to hear her poetry come alive in the context of her life. It’s beautiful.”
Recchia’s performance will take place the day after the Adirondack Quilt Show opens at the NCCCA on Friday, May 17.