Monday, December 17, 2007

Notes from summer: playing a part

August 2. I’ve decided that I’m going to play the part of Emily Dickinson at least in the staged readings so I’ve been working on imbuing myself even more with Emily Dickinson’s life. Have recently read “The Passion of Emily Dickinson” by Judith Farr and “The Gardens of Emily Dickinson” by the same author. Also I’m reading all of Dickinson’s poems (almost 2.0000) and picking ones to read out loud. The variety and complexity and subtlety and wisdom and strength of music is so dense and rich it’s like running into a wall.

I’ve read almost 400 poems so far and I’m starting to feel a thread of Emily Dickinson’s inner life. Nothing to be put into words, but to be felt. I need to add that part of the fun is I’m consulting the 1828 Dictionary first put out by Noah Webster which was almost Dickinson’s Bible. She loved this book and read it incessantly. It’s so much fun to have some of the poems get revealed by finding the definition of a word which has a slightly different meaning back in her day. I’ve also read that often she would take one of the more archaic meanings of the word and so I get to be a bit of a word sleuth.

In preparation for the reading and eventually doing a full production of the play I’m beginning to memorize the script and choreograph it. It’s helping me get into the nuances of the piece. In the beginning it was quite daunting, but I’m now reaching the stage of it being an exciting challenge and a joy. I’m sure this will continue to spiral around which is where the juice comes from, right?? There’s a deep familiarity in the rhythms and the sounds.


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