Sunday, March 15, 2009

KNIFVES Event: "Belle of Amherst"

My movie-making group from Idaho, called KNIFVES, attended the "Belle of Amherst" matinee yesterday at the local Interplayers theater. We organized it so the group would get a chance not only to see this wonderful play about Emily Dickinson but also to meet the play's star, Ellen Crawford. (Ellen is from the original cast of ER, and played Nurse Lydia Wright. She had just returned from filming ER's finale.)

We had 16 people attend from our group. It was the third time I had seen the play. I love this play. I love Ellen in it. There are a couple scenes that particularly move me - when she talks about unexpected kindnesses from Emily Dickinson's father, for instance. It also tears at my heart every time I hear the line that she waited "eight years" for this so-called educated critic to come see her at her home town (only to have him tell her that her poetry was spasmodic). It's the story of the writer, isn't it? How we wait and wait.... for this one thing to develop. Which would be okay, if the answer ended up "yes." But what if it is "no"? Or what if - worse - the answer never comes? Ugh.

We also had the "talk back" afterwards, which means a discussion with Ellen and audience members. It was a challenge for her since she also had a show that night. She really did it as a favor to our group. (One thing that I found out during the talk-back was that the monologue pieces in the play that are not poetry are taken almost exclusively from Emily Dickinson's letters.) No one asked her a question about the filming of the ER finale, which surprised me a little. I did see the ER show this past Thursday - thought it was the finale, though it wasn't. I used to watch the show in its early years - felt some kinship with it, since my sis is an ER doc and got her training in Chicago - so was looking forward to the finale. The almost-finale episode did not disappoint, and included a lot of the cast from the first season. Particularly touching throughout the episode was the interaction between Drs. Carter and Benson, especially given the history between the two characters from the early seasons (when Benson supervised Carter). And there was one powerful scene between Susan Sarandon and George Clooney (as Dr. Ross) as they talked about the grandson of Susan Sarandon's character - what he was like.... The way she described him - simultaneously it described both any child and then, very specifically, this child. So heartbreaking. And then, his line in response - well, I won't say it all here. Just watch the scene.

Because the talk-back took awhile, the KNIFVES group didn't get a chance to meet with Ellen one on one. She did sign some posters, and did speak briefly to one of our youngest members whose film is going to be in a competition in Texas. That capped the whole day for me - that Ellen had a chance to wish Katie good luck.

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