Suggested donation – $0.00 - $10.00

Date & Time Details: Performance: 3:00 to 4:10 pm

Location: Zen Center of New York City

Address: 500 State Street, Brooklyn, NY, USA

Contact: ZCNYC

Note: Tickets are $10. All proceeds go to Whitesburg Public Library in Georgia. No one will be turned away or denied reservation for lack of funds. Registration will be limited to 30 people.


Open Hearth Art Practice Presents: The Belle Of Amherst by William Luce

with Sybil Seisui Rosen

September 15, 2024

“I dwell in possibility,” wrote the poet Emily Dickinson. In Seisui’s mind, Dickinson’s poetry, the theater, and libraries will always be inextricably entwined.  We turn to libraries to be enchanted by poets and storytellers, to live lives that exist outside our self-created spheres. We turn to the theater for the same reasons.  Yearning to go beyond the limitations of self, we ask to experience the infinite array of possibilities that being alive affords.

The Belle of Amherst by William Luce is a funny, wise, poignant rendering of America’s most loved (and least known) poet, Emily Dickinson. The one-woman play is an intimate glimpse into the poet’s unusual life – her legendary seclusion, the close circle of her family, the men who loved her. Rosen has long admired Dickinson’s poetry but when she encountered the poet in the play, she fell in love.  “The language,” she says, “most of it taken from her letters and journals, is so beautiful and witty.”

The play was first produced on Broadway in 1976 and starred Julie Harris, for whom it was written. “What I love most about the play is that it’s a description of a writing life, a deliberate narrowing of daily life so that as an artist she could go most deeply into her art,” Seisui laughs. “And the best thing about performing it is that, for about an hour, I get to be a genius.” She adds, “I took up this play because I loved it! And also I wanted to raise awareness about libraries, to help remind us of what they give us and why that matters.

Her town in Georgia is small and poor, yet its rural library, which was built by its citizens, has brought computers, summer reading programs, and arts-and-science education to the struggling community and still has a lack of sufficient funding.

So, as part of our ongoing Open Hearth Art Practice series, Emily and Seisui have hit the road to raise awareness of, and money for, libraries, so that her neighbors can continue to dwell in possibility too. All donations will go to the artist to support library funding. The play runs about an hour with 2 30-minute acts and a 10-minute intermission. Please join us for this exciting afternoon.


Sybil Seisui Rosen
Sybil Seisui Rosen is an award-winning playwright, children’s novelist, and short story writer. In 2018 she and co-writer Ethan Hawke adapted her memoir Living in the Woods in a Tree: Remembering Blaze Foley for the movie BLAZE, directed by Mr, Hawke. In the movie she plays her own mother.  Most recently, her children’s picture book, Carpenter’s Helper, was selected by Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. Rosen currently lives in rural Georgia.
Learn more about Sybil Seisui Rosen