Emily: I’m just here to tell you how amazing you are.
Adelaide May: Oh, you’re one of them.
Emily: Look, I was in the audience tonight. Your singing, I have never heard anything like it. It was so beautiful. It broke my heart.
Adelaide May: Yes, that’s what they all say.
Emily: But I mean it. Listening to you made me feel things I have never felt before.
Adelaide May: Really, what’s that like?
Adelaide May: Feeling things.
Emily: But you must know what it’s like. You brought it all to life so perfectly. You made me feel what Violetta was feeling.
Adelaide May: That was just a performance. I’ve done Violetta so many times, I don’t even need to be awake when I’m on stage. You just saw the most moving performance, yet I felt nothing.
Emily: I want to be famous.
Adelaide May: You do?
Emily: Well, sure, doesn’t everybody?
Adelaide May: Why do you want to be famous?
Emily: Because I’m a writer, and I write and write and write poem after poem, and then I stick it in a drawer and it just sits there in the dark where no light shines. I mean that isn’t enough, is it? Don’t they need to be seen? Don’t I need to be seen?
Adelaide May: I don’t know. If you’re seen, then you’re exposed. Everything that’s exposed, well, it goes stale.
Emily: Well, not everything.
Adelaide May: Yes, everything. The critics, they’ll put you on top for a minute, but then they’ll drag you down. They’ll get sick of you, and they’ll destroy you. They hate you, see, because you made them love you. You are a courtesan, and they fell for your trick.
Emily: Who cares what they say? Who cares what people think?
Adelaide May: Exactly, might as well stay in a room by yourself with no one watching.
Emily: How do you do it? How do you find the courage to sing in front of all these people?
Adelaide May: Well, I just pretend they’re not there.
Emily: But I was here tonight. I was here.
Adelaide May: Well, then I suppose I was singing for you.
Imaginary Sue: What is it that you really want? What is the deeper yearning that you have?
Emily: Sue, what do you mean?
Imaginary Sue: Beneath all of this nonsense about fame, what is it that you crave? You crave meaning. You crave beauty. You crave love.
Emily: People keep telling me Sam Bowles cheats on his wife.
Sue: OK, well, that’s not true.
Emily: Are you sure? Because the minute they heard he was publishing me, they just started to assume that we were intimate.
Sue: That’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever heard. He’s publishing you because you are a genius.
Emily: I know that’s what you might think.
Sue: Emily, it’s what I know.
Emily: I came here tonight to be seen, and so far, it’s been a pretty unpleasant experience.
Sue: Well that just makes me angry. You deserve to be seen, Emily. You deserve to be published. And it’s just not fair what happens to women. The minute we get a little bit of fame or show the slightest amount of ambition, we get slapped with the nastiest comments. We get these targets on our backs. Well, I say to hell with all of that. You go out there, and you own this. You worked for this, and Sam Bowles believes in you as a writer. And that’s that.
Ship: Do you not believed that you have sinned?
Lavinia: I believe that I have sinned in your eyes. But who is to know if God shares your views?
Ship: Silence, woman. Now, wear this letter upon your bow-dice.
Ship: You say it your way. I say it mine.
Lavinia: Yes, minister. My bodice is all yours.
Ship: Um, don’t you think you should be a little more chaste?
Lavinia: Just, no, no breaking character.
Ship: Right. Sorry.
Lavinia: ‘Tis not a symbol of my shame, but your own.
Ship: You’re different than how I remember you, Lavinia Dickinson.
Ship: Hester. You’re crazy, and I like it.
Austin: Sue, you can’t talk to them like that.
Sue: That’s how I have to talk to them if they misbehave.
Austin: You know I would think that you would feel sorry for them. You were orphaned and you had no one to take care of you.
Sue: And I don’t want to be reminded of that, Austin. When I was in their situation, I did the work I was told to do. I didn’t antagonize the people who were kind enough to let me in.
Austin: You think this is kind?
Sue: You know not everyone grows up as spoiled as the Dickinsons. Unlike those girls, I didn’t even have an inheritance to fall back on.
Austin: Their inheritance is paying for this house. They’re not here to be our servants. It’s thanks to their money that we even have a roof over our heads.
Sue: Well, if that’s the case, then you’re the one taking advantage.
Lavinia: So, listen, I know now that since we’re engaged you think I’m going to become this tame, obedient housewife who always stays inside and never goes to parties and gets all her satisfaction in life from ironing your socks, but you’re wrong. I am not the boring Dickinson sister. People don’t realize this, but I am a lot like Emily. I’m wild and creative and the truth is I am even more outrageous than Lola Montez.
Lavinia: So if you think we’re going to have a quiet night in, you’re wrong. I need more than that. I need stimulation.
Sam: So Emily are you ready?
Emily: For what?
Sam: For me to show you off.
Emily: I just hope this salon’s ready for me.
Emily: Hello, family. I am heading over to Sue and Austin’s. Should I change?
Mrs. Dickinson: No, no, you look beautiful. Ravishing, in fact. Who knows, maybe you’ll catch some man’s eye tonight. I’d given up every hope of you ever getting married, but with Lavinia’s recent engagement, we’re on a winning streak.
Fictitious Sam: You look great.
Emily: I do?
Fictitious Sam: You look like someone who should be on the frontpage. This is it. You ready? You ready to see and be seen?
Emily: I hope so.
Fictitious Sam: Hope isn’t good enough. You need to know it. Look at yourself. Look at yourself and say, ‘I deserve this. I earned it. It’s now my time to shine.’
Sam: Do me a favor.
Sam: Write something. Tonight.
Emily: I’ll try.
Sam: And know that I’ll be right here, unable to sleep, because I am so close to your incredible talent.
Sam: Look, here we are.
Emily: Charles Dickens?
Sam: Mm-hmm, and Diderot. Look, this is where you will go. Right here. Emily Dickinson.
Sam: Your books between the modern master and the Enlightenment. How does that sound?
Emily: I don’t know.
Sam: Oh no, you’re right. There’s not enough room. You’re gonna need your own shelf. Imagine that.
Emily: I can imagine a lot of things, but… something about all this feels, uh, almost forbidden.
Sam: Mm. Forbidden fruit has an interesting flavor, doesn’t it?