There are two plays that feature Emily Dickinson and by early April Margery Lowe will have played the reclusive poet in both.
Three years ago, the area actor appeared at Palm Beach Dramaworks in the world premiere of Edgar and Emily, Joseph McDonough’s fanciful and improbable meeting of Dickinson and Edgar Allan Poe.
Lowe returns to the character April 2- 6 in the better known The Belle of Amherst, William Luce’s one-woman play, a virtual co-production between Dramaworks and Coral Gables’ Actors’ Playhouse.
Although both theaters remain closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have remained active with play readings designed for streaming into their patrons’ homes. The Belle of Amherst takes that idea one step further, a full production filmed on PBD’s mainstage, directed by the company’s producing artistic director William Hayes, without the presence of an audience.
Then, for $30, the production can be viewed at the ticket buyer’s convenience any time between April 2-6. Proceeds will benefit both not-for-profit theater companies, which have been earning no income while their stages have remained dark.
Patrons who subscribed to the 2020-2021 season of either company and did not ask for a refund, rolling over their subscription to the 2021-2022 season, get to watch The Belle of Amherst free of charge. “It’s a thank-you for having trust and confidence in our organizations,” said Hayes and Actors’ Playhouse’s artistic director David Arisco in a joint statement.
The Belle of Amherst was first performed in 1976, with five-time Tony Award-winner Julie Harris originating the role of Dickinson. The play makes use of the poet’s work, diaries and letters to recollect her encounters with the significant people in her life — family, close friends and acquaintances.
In selecting this play, the two artistic directors noted the poet’s growing popularity, due in large part to the series Dickinson, a coming-of-age story with a contemporary sensibility, featuring Hailee Steinfeld and streaming on Apple TV+.
As to the casting of Lowe in the Dramaworks-Actors’ Playhouse co-production, Hayes said, “Having seen Marge embody Dickinson in a very different play, and having developed a professional bond over 15 years and numerous productions, I know she has the range, the skill set, and the artistry to pull this off brilliantly.”
For technical reasons, tickets can be purchased only through PBD’s website: www.palmbeachdramaworks.org or its box office: 561-514-4042, ext. 2