School play is about Thoreau

Written by David Green.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach.

– Henry David Thoreau


And after two years and two months in his simple cabin by Walden Pond, Thoreau made the decision to leave.

Thoreau’s determination to move back into town is the basis of a two-act play by Morenci Area High School students, scheduled at 7 p.m. Nov. 15 in the drama room.

In his final two days at Walden, the man destined to become one of America’s great philosophers discusses the reasons for his Walden experiment and speaks of his vision of America’s future. All the while, his convictions are constantly challenged by his good friend Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Don’t think of this philosophical musing as a stuffy exchange. There’s plenty of humor tossed in as Thoreau explains his thoughts and Emerson holds them up for examination.

Michael Johnathon, the author of “Walden: the Ballad of Thoreau,” describes the play not as a biography but rather a conversation and intellectual argument between a pair of old colleagues who love and respect each other greatly.

The play is unique, said director and English teacher Char-Lene Wilkins, in that the script and production materials are offered free of charge to schools and colleges in conjunction with the Earth Day 2008 project. Financial support of the project is provided by five companies and organizations.

Tickets will be sold without the need to pay royalties, and proceeds will benefit the high school Green Earth Club (GECKOs) and the journalism class.

“In an age of global warming, bio-fuels, hybrid cars and oil wars,” Johnathon writes, “the play can introduce students to Thoreau as well as environmental concerns in their own home towns at a time when, frankly, they need it.”

Two other characters join Thoreau and Emerson. Joshua Barnett, a worker at the Thoreau family pencil shop, plays the common man who possess a great deal of common sense. Many of the intellectual arguments between Thoreau and Emerson are reflected in the Barnett character.

A female perspective is offered through Rachel Stuers, an expressive woman in her 20s who is said to have “the gleamings of feminism long before it was acknowledged by society.” Her tone offers somewhat of a challenge, but not outright rebellion.

When Thoreau died, Johnathan said, he was better known for the manufacture of the pencil than for any words he wrote with one.

His aim with the play is to make sure students today know Thoreau for his ideas and discover their relevance to contemporary life.

  • Front.splash
    Water Fun—Carter Seitz and Colson Walter take a fast trip along a plastic sliding strip while water from a sprinkler provides the lubrication. The boys took a break from tie-dyeing last week at Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program to cool off in the water.
  • Front.starting
    BIKE-A-THON—Children in Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program brought their bikes last Tuesday to participate in a bike-a-thon. Riders await the start of the event at the elementary school before being led on a course through town by organizer Leonie Leahy.
  • Front.drum
    on your mark, get set, drum!—Drew Joughin (black shirt), Maddox Joughin and Kaleea Braun took the front row last week when Angela Rettle and assistants led the Stair District Library Summer Reading Program kids in a session of cardio drumming. The sports and healthy living theme continued yesterday with a Mini Jamboree at Lake Hudson State Park arranged by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Next week’s program features the Flying Aces Frisbee show.
  • Front.art.park
    ART PARK—A design created by Poggemeyer Design Group shows a “pocket art park” in the green space south of the State Line Observer building. The proposal includes a 12-foot sculpture based on a design created by Morenci sixth grade student Klara Wesley through a school and library collaboration. A wooden band shell is located at the back of the lot. The Observer wall would be covered with a synthetic stucco material. City council members are considering ways to fund the estimated $125,000 project and perhaps tackling construction one step at a time.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks

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