Emily Dickinson was barely acknowledged in her lifetime. But her genius lives on in her poetry and in an upcoming presentation at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre.
This month, Margie Gillis, one of Canada’s most celebrated contemporary dancers, presents the world premiere of Bulletins from Immortality… Freeing Emily Dickson.
The production mixes dance and theatre as Gillis teams up with American actress Elizabeth Parrish, who co-created Bulletins. While Parrish reads from Dickinson’s work, Gillis will interpret the poetess’ psyche.
Director Paolo Styron and the Stella Adler Studio in New York City also collaborated on the presentation. Bulletins from Immortality also features work by lighting designer Pierre Lavoie and visual artist and set designer Randal Newman. The production features music contemporary to Dickinson’s era (1830 – 1886), including compositions by Felix Mendelssohn.
Bulletins marks Gillis’ 40th year in dance. Born in Montreal to parents who were Olympic skiiers, she has gone onto become one of Canada’s best-known modern dancers. As a choreographer and/or performer, she has been involved in more than one hundred solo dance works, and has performed all over the world. She also teaches in various institutions, including Juilliard School of New York. She has been a Member of the Order of Canada since 1988 and of the Order of Québec since 2009.
During Dickinson’s lifetime, only a few dozen of her nearly 1800 poems were published. It wasn’t until the second half of the 19th century that critics recognized her as a major American poet.
Dickinson’s best known poem is the one that begins “Because I could not stop for Death…”:
Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.
We passed the school, where children strove
At recess, in the ring;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.
Or rather, he passed us;
The dews grew quivering and chill,
For only gossamer my gown,
My tippet only tulle.
We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.
Since then ’tis centuries, and yet each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses’ heads
Were toward eternity.
Bulletins from Immortality … freeing Emily Dickinson
At The Cultch (1895 Venables St)
October 23 – 26, 2013
Oct 23, 8pm: Opening night
Oct 24 – 26: 8PM
Ticket prices: Tickets available from $18 at tickets.thecultch.com