To prepare for The Belle of Amherst (March 9-April 20 at Theatre in the Square), the celebrated one-woman show about Emily Dickinson, Atlanta actress Holly Stevenson has been digging the research, which includes not just reading Dickinson's poetry but traveling to Amherst, Mass., to explore the reclusive poet's old stomping grounds.
Amherst College Archives and Special Collection: "They gave me special permission to see the one lock of Emily's hair in existence. I was not allowed to touch it and I had to lean over the counter while the glove-wearing 'handler' opened up a large book-sized box, which contained a tiny envelope which held the lock of auburn-red hair."
The Emily Dickinson Museum: "I booked a private tour and it was very helpful. The grounds include her home, called the Homestead, and brother's house, the Evergreens. The latter is kept exactly as it was in the 19th century, so it's kind of eerie because it's falling into disrepair."
Dorothy Ives: "The museum got me in touch with this 90-year-old Amherst native so I could learn what an authentic accent sounded like. She missed my first call because she was at the gym. When we spoke, as soon as I said 'Am-herst,' she told me, 'If you pronounce that "h," people are going to know you're not from here.' It's not really a Boston accent -- Emily Dickinson doesn't sound like Jack Kennedy."
My Wars Are Laid Away in Books: The Life of Emily Dickinson by Alfred Habegger: "I read this biography once and am about to read it again. He doesn't just list the events of her life, but noticed trends and currents in it and sets the stage for the things that happened to her."
DeKalb County's Henderson Park: "My favorite way to learn my lines is while hiking, and this park is near my house and has great trails. I bring the dog with me, so he gets to learn the lines, too. If I can't go on one night, I'll send the dog instead."
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