I Am Not Emily Dickinson - a Cumulus/Pursued by a Bear Production


I Am Not Emily Dickinson (Cumulus/Pursued by a Bear (formerly Hot Seat Productions) is an hour-long, group-devised solo performance about the joyful, frightening, and magical act of being yourself – or trying to be someone else.

I Am Not Emily Dickinson premiered to great acclaim in Europe in 2010, and received development support from Arthur Boyd’s Bundanon Trust in 2011 followed by performances at ACArts in the Adelaide Fringe.  The highly experienced team have worked on more than 150 productions and received Sydney Theatre and New York Fringe Festival Excellence Awards, Australia Council and Scottish Arts Council Grants, and numerous critics picks.

I Am Not Emily Dickinson is a theatrical collision between Elaine and the eponymous American poet, juxtaposing laptops and period dresses, Emily’s writing and contemporary texts, film projections and daguerreotypes.
The soundtrack ranges from the 19th century to Nirvana as the performance moves playfully from the everyday to the abstract, from naturalism to direct address and back: a unique visual and aural feast which takes audiences on a moving and funny trip into the creative soul.

I Am Not Emily Dickinson premiered to great acclaim in Europe (Teatro Cortile, Bolzano) in 2010, and received development support from Arthur Boyd’s Bundanon Trust in 2011 followed by performances at ACArts for the Adelaide Fringe.  The highly experienced team have worked on more than 150 productions and received Sydney Theatre and New York Fringe Festival Excellence Awards, Australia Council and Scottish Arts Council Grants, and numerous critics picks.

I Am Not Emily Dickinson is a must-see for anyone who has wondered how to live an honest life - whether they're lovers of Emily Dickinson’s work, students reading her on the schools syllabus, or those with no knowledge of her at all. It’s a constantly surprising, adventurous night that could only occur in the theatre, for audiences who wear comfortable shoes, hip eyeglasses, school uniforms, ripped t-shirts – and their hearts on their sleeves!




Our companies, Cumulus and Pursued by a Bear (formerly Hot Seat), have produced more than 20 successful productions in Sydney and New York. We successfully met the challenges of producing I Am Not Emily Dickinson both overseas in Italy and out of state in Adelaide. In addition, our creative team for this project has combined more than 150 credits on three continents, and individual team members and their work have received Sydney Theatre Awards, an AFI nomination, Australia Council and Scottish Arts Council grants, a Fulbright, and numerous critics’ picks.

Originally from the US, director/video designer Jonathan Wald’s credits there include world premiere productions at HERE and the Village Gate (NYC); a group-devised adaptation of EM Forster’s work at the Obie-award-winning Soho Rep; and a dozen other plays at venues such as the Williamstown Theatre Company. Sydney credits include directing and producing the Australian premieres of God’s Ear (Seymour Centre, Sydney Theatre Award nominee), Hilda (Seymour Centre’s Best Independent Theatre series, Time Out pick), Titanic (Newtown), Vincent River (Old Fitzroy, Sydney Morning Herald pick), and the Sydney premiere of new Australian play Victor & Sass (new theatre). He received a 2009 Fraser St. Studios/Off The Shelf fellowship, and a Bundanon residency to develop I Am Not Emily Dickinson.

Jonathan assisted visionary director Robert Wilson and the Tony-award-winning Le Coq-trained Theatre de la Jeune Lune, and trained with Anne Bogart/SITI Company (Viewpoints and Suzuki); Forced Entertainment (UK); Zen Zen Zo; and Tony Kushner.

Jonathan earned his MFA at UCLA Film School, and received a Fulbright Award to study at AFTRS. His five short films have played at 200 film festivals, won numerous awards, featured on DVDs in France and Germany, and screened on the Sundance Channel (US) and Canada’s Moviola Channel.

As co-founder of shoottheplayer.com, Jonathan has directed, shot, and edited 100 single-take music videos of musicians including Sarah Blasko, Amanda Palmer, and Reggie Watts.


Elaine Hudson is an actor/director/teacher. She trained at NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Art), and has worked in theatre, film and television. 

Acting credits include roles for the Old Tote (Marowitz Shrew, The Matchmaker, The Lower Depths); Q Theatre (A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, Ghosts,  Mrs Warren’s Profession, Travelling North and The Importance of Being Earnest); Sydney Theatre Company (Caucasian Chalk Circle, The Crucible, Away, A Doll’s House and Major Barbara); new theatre ( Queen Christina, The American Clock, War, The Woman in the Window and Angels in America) Company B (Burnt Piano); Griffin (Speaking in Tongues); Historic Houses Trust (Macquarie); NIDA Company (Dead Heart);  Company 2a (The Lady from Dubuque) ;Windmill Theatre Company (Snow Queen); Queensize Productions (Mary Stuart –Excellence Award from International New York Fringe Festival, In the Blood, Splendour); Cumulus Productions, formed by Elaine in 2001, (Mother Teresa is Dead, The Women of Lockerbie, Box and Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung ); Vincent River for Hot Seat/ROAR Theatre at The Old Fitzroy; return season of Angels in America at Parramatta Riverside and Rope (Bondi Pavilion).

In 2009 Elaine performed in A Streetcar Named Desire for the Sydney Theatre Company, touring to Washington and New York.

Film and Television work includes Cross-Life (Sydney Film Festival), Dying Breed (Tribeca), The Disappearance of Azaria Chamberlain, Joh’s Jury (AFI  Nomination), All Saints, White Collar Blue, Grassroots, Heartbreak High, Chandon Pictures and Rake. 

Directing credits include Endgame (Lookout Theatre); The Lady from Dubuque (Downstairs Belvoir); Poles Apart (Stables Theatre); The Death of Peter Pan; After the Fall (Associate Director), Relative Comfort, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Gross Indecency/The Importance of Being Earnest and Seven Little Australians (new theatre); The Man Who Came to Dinner (Genesian Theatre), A Touch of Paradise (Downstairs Belvoir) and  Young Dramatists – Page to Stage (Co-Artistic Director 1999 – ) and Heir Raising for Mardi Gras 2009. 


Production designer Jo Lewis is a NIDA graduate with extensive experience in devising theatre, dance and visual and cross-disciplinary arts. She co-founded Queensize productions with director Tanya Denny in 2001 and designed several productions for the company including, Splendour (Old Fitzroy); Silence (B Sharp, Seymour Centre);In the Blood and One Flea Spare (Downstairs Belvoir); Se Tu Avessi Parlatto Desdemona (Teatro Cortile); Tram Frau Mutter (Teatro Cortile); Snatch Paradise (2009 Edinburgh Festival); Mahal (Seymour Centre) and Mary Stuart (Downstairs Belvoir, 2001 New York Fringe Festival) receiving the NewYork Festival Costume Award for Excellence.

Recent set and costume design credits include: God’s Ear (Reginald Theatre,Seymour Centre); I Am Not Emily Dickinson, (Teatro Cortile and 2011 Adelaide Fringe Festival);  Mein Freund, Orest (Theater Dschungel);  Heir Raising, (Factory Theatre); Four Seasons (Newtown Theatre).


Writer Gina Schien is an AWGIE award winner, a graduate of the NIDA Playwrights Studio and a US MacDowell Fellow. She has a longstanding interest in creating work about complex and compelling women, and began her collaborations with Elaine Hudson a decade ago, with Relative Comfort (new theatre, Sydney and Bailiwick Theater, Chicago). Other productions include The Dyke Variations (Women’s Theatre Project, Florida), Cake on a Plate (Oxford and Brighton Fringe, UK; Short & Sweet, Sydney);The Collection (Theatre Songe); The Lesbian Variations (Slide Bar, Sydney); Pulpit Rock (stage version Short & Sweet; radio version Eastside Radio); Good Woman Smoking (World Bar), The Clerk Ascending (ABC Radio); Charlie’s Window (Short and Sweet Sydney; Brisbane Emerge Festival), Play Like a Girl (new theatre, Sydney), At the Edge of the Dark (NIDA Playwrights Studio).

Gina’s fiction and plays have been published by Blackwattle Press, Vintage, Currency Press and Blithe House Quarterly; her stories have been finalists for the Trans-Tasman Story Competition and the Alan Marshall Short Story Award, as well as being re-printed in Best Lesbian Love Stories 2004.


Sound consultant Steve Toulmin’s credits include Scorched, The Seed (Company B), That Face (QTC), Attack of the Attacking Attackers (La Boite); Beyond The Neck (B Sharp), Dealing with Clair, Hammerhead [is Dead], Arabian Night (Griffin); and No Man’s Island, Vincent River, and The Age Of Consent (TRS). [NB: Steve was involved in the first of the two workshops for the production, and many of his design ideas remain, but work commitments have prevented him from participating in the second and current workshops.]


Adelaide Fringe 2011 - Reviews/Press


I Am Not Emily Dickinson

AC Arts – Stables, Sat Mar 12

Review by Jenny Smith 


“That was brilliant!” one audience member remarked as AFI-nominee actress Elaine Hudson took her bow to firm applause. “I dunno what it was about, but it was brilliant!” The woman sitting on my other side however seemed confused; complaining she’d learned nothing about poet Emily Dickinson at all. Herein lies the point: this play uses Dickinson merely as a mirror for Hudson’s self-discovery. It is not designed to educate about Dickinson’s life and times beyond some basic facts. With this important point in mind, I was happy to trip with Elaine into a cryptic world of inflatable cats and of modern technology, overlaid with a soundtrack as variable Bjork, Tom Waits and Nirvana. Cryptic concepts and jubilant scenes stayed with me long after the theatre finished that evening, indicating a successful, if interpretive script. This is no one-trick pony; instead it’s a carnival of intrigue.

Final Word: Creative


Theatre Guide

Review by Jamie Wright


…the set is excellent – a modern, minimalist space – and Hudson’s performance is captivating….


The Adelaide Advertiser

Review by Tim Lloyd

“a highly polished, highly technical multi-media installation anchored around a very good actress in the form of Elaine Hudson”

Production shots - ACArts Adelaide 2011

Production Shots - Teatro Cortile - 2010

All photos - Jonathan Wald