Wonder Upon Wonder: A Visit with Emily Dickinson on Her Winter Birthday

Even though you'll be a day late, you can celebrate the birthday of Emily Dickinson (December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886)  at the Sewickley Heights History Center in Sewickley. The doors to the one woman show starring local actress, scholar and writer, Yvonne Hudson open at 6:15 p,m. with light refreshments served prior to the performance.

When the curtain goes up, it's the holiday season at The Homestead in Amherst, Massachusetts as Emily Dickinson bakes and anticipates guests on her birthday. In this compilation Hudson reveals the poet's sly wit, resilience, and passion for publishing through Emily's own words and correspondence about the writing life.

Drawn from Emily's letters and works, and the observations of those who knew the prolific and reclusive poet, this solo presentation features a replica of the writer's white dress, designed by University of Pittsburgh's costumer Cindy Albert.

Explore the venue where there is ample free parking and historic exhibits to enjoy before the show: https://sewickleyheightshistory.org.. The address of the performance venue is 1901 Glen Mitchell Road in Sewickley.

The title of the play is drawn from the following Dickinson poem

Before the ice is in the pools --
Before the skaters go,
Or any check at nightfall
Is tarnished by the snow --
Before the fields have finished,
Before the Christmas tree,
Wonder upon wonder
Will arrive to me!
What we touch the hems of
On a summer's day --
What is only walking
Just a bridge away --
That which sings so -- speaks so --
When there's no one here --
Will the frock I wept in
Answer me to wear?
~~Emily Dickinson

Yvonne Hudson as Emily Dickinson Credit: Catherine Aceto

Below Hudson gives a little more insight into the event in a short Q & A:

Q: Are you doing anything to celebrate Emily's birthday - singing Happy Birthday, serving birthday cake and ice cream, etc.?

A: The presenting organization, Crisis Center North, a non-profit that helps victims of domestic violence, is serving dessert and singing Happy Birthday to Emily in a reception before the show. Note: A description of the Center's services can be had by clicking https://www.crisiscenternorth.org/

Q: Is the show the same one you did at the Sewickley Heights History Center a month ago?

A: This winter version features some additional seasonal poems and correspondence, leaving behind some of the aspects of loss that I included in October. The piece will again be 50 minutes with changes to set it in December and to include Emily's holiday memories, verses on winter, and more, perhaps a winter carol as the Dickinsons would have sung it.

Q: Will you repeat the show somewhere else in the near future? If so, where?

A: Both my Emily Dickinson and Mrs Shakespeare pieces will be scheduled in the Greater Pittsburgh area in 2020. Watch for details on website https://tinyurl.com/MrsShakespeare.

New ticket link for $20 in advance. Tix are $25 at door.


About the Artist

Yvonne Hudson is an actress, writer and singer who has appeared in numerous solo theater and other productions. She self-produces her play Mrs Shakespeare, Will's first & last love. She has performed it more than 100 times from Off-off-Broadway to the Tower of London to (most recently) the historic Pump House in Homestead and the English Nationality Room at Pitt. Yvonne has also presented at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Prime Stage Theatre's 2nd Stage, Phipps Conservatory, a restored prairie music hall in South Dakota, among many others.

Hudson first performed as Emily in William Luce's two-act play The Belle of Amherst. Yvonne's original 50-minute presentations, based on the poet's correspondences and poetry, has been seen in community settings in Washington, DC and Pennsylvania. She holds an MA in theatre arts from the University of Pittsburgh and minored in voice with the late Claudia Pinza. Yvonne has studied text at Shakespeare & Company and with Royal Shakespeare Company actor Barry Ingham.