SINDA NICHOLS: Have Suitcase Will Travel

July 2011 Archives

Emily Goes To Ireland

posted July 14, 2011

“Don’t be afraid.  It’s only the fourth of July!”

Well, I’ll be honest. I was a bit nervous about doing the show outside of the states, let alone in a new space without any rehearsal. But as Emily says, “We never know how high we are, till we are asked to rise. . . “ And so, on July 4th at the lovely Mountscribe Gallery, with the audience nestled at one end of the room, a few more above in the loft, and with me nestled at the other end of the room; with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the hills and waterways of western Ireland, The Belle of Amherst was performed, quite possibly for the first time ever, in Kinvara, County Galway.

The sun set about 9: 15, giving the room a warm glow, a short time later we started hearing “that phraseless melody the wind does.” Lighting & Sound Design – Mother Nature. It was unbelievably perfect looking out those windows quoting Emily, “and for my companions I have the hills and the sundown.” I needed to remind myself that there was an audience. If you ever get the chance to go to Kinvara – GO!

Anyway, what you really want to know is – how did it go? Very, very well.   I had a blast – being both terrified and thrilled at the same time: challenged by the constant need to adapt to the new space, the new set and the closeness of the audience,  uplifted by the audiences’ laughs, chuckles, “mmm’s”, “ahs” and stillness.  I felt Emily’s life, loves, losses, poetry, humor and mystery transcend the ocean. Many of the Irish, English, Dutch, and Czech audience commented they felt as though they had been transported to Emily’s parlor.  Talking with them afterwards, I was amazed at their interest and love of Emily and her poetry. They were especially interested in what I call the “Irish Connection.” Maggie Maher, an Irish immigrant from Tipperary, worked for the Dickinson family for the last seventeen years of Emily’s life. It was Maggie’s locked trunk where Emily chose to keep her estimated 1700 poems – a trunk only Emily and Maggie knew about at the time of Emily’s death. Much of Emily’s poetry contains similarities to the rhythms, language and flavor of the Irish dialect as I learned from the wonderful book, Maid as Muse” written by Aife Murray. It would be my great honor to someday perform “Belle” in Tipperary, Ireland as way of saying thank you to Maggie –  if not for her, we may have lost one of America’s greatest poets.