Debbie Dimitre, a Pacific Northwest storyteller known for her stirring one-woman shows about women and young girls in American history, will bring her presentation about Emily Dickinson, “The Myth of Amherst,” to Vashon at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, at the Vashon Presbyterian church.
In the show, Dimitre shape-shifts to embody Dickinson — a passionate, introspective and reclusive woman who, after a lifetime of obscurity and rejection, was recognized as a powerful voice in American poetry eight years after her death in 1886.
“The Myth of Amherst” is one of 19 shows that Dimitre — who has worked as a solo performer since the late 1980s — is currently booking throughout the Northwest. She most recently appeared on Vashon in a one-woman show about Eleanor Roosevelt in 2018 and as Grandma Moses in 2017. Other characters in her repertoire include Harriet Beecher-Stowe, Nellie Bly, Chief Seattle’s daughter Princess Angeline, Rachel Carson and Bertha Knight Landes, who in 1926 became not only Seattle’s first woman mayor but the first female to be elected mayor of any major metropolitan city in the United States.
According to Dimitre’s website, the performer was inspired to create her far-ranging series of shows after realizing, 30 years ago, that her children’s school books were practically devoid of information about the contributions, courage and bravery of mothers and daughters in American history.
Carving out her own niche as a working performer dependent only on her own carefully researched writing, a trunkful of costumes and audiences eager to hear the untold stories of inspiring women, Dimitre has performed at schools, community colleges, churches, libraries, book stores and history museums, as well as more traditional venues including the Seattle Folklife Festival.
Appropriately enough, Dimitre’s Oct. 19 presentation about Dickinson is being presented as a fundraiser by one of two Vashon chapters of Philanthropic Educational Organization (P.E.O.). The organization, founded in 1869, is an international women’s nonprofit that helps girls and women achieve their educational goals through scholarship, grants and loan programs, as well as its own school, Cottey College. To date, these international programs have helped assist approximately 109,000 women with more than $344 million in funds for educational assistance.
The Vashon members of the organization — which has had a quiet presence on the island since the early 1980s — also give out their own scholarships to island girls via the Vashon Community Scholarship Foundation.
Sherri Shull, a local member of P.E.O., said that the organization had been thrilled to bring Dimitre annually to Vashon for the past three years. She lauded her past performances on the island as Grandma Moses and Eleanor Roosevelt and said she was looking forward to seeing Dimitre again on Oct. 19.
“She is an extremely talented storyteller who brings historical women to life with mesmerizing acting,” Shull said.
Tickets to “The Myth of Amherst” are $20 each, and may be purchased in advance at Vashon Bookshop and at the door, on the day of the show, if available. For more information about Debbie Dimitre, visit debbiedimitre.com.