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.

  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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