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.little Ball
    Fayette's Demetrious Whiteside (left)Skylar Lester attempt to keep the ball from going out of bounds during Morenci's recent basketball tournament for fourth and fifth grade teams. Morenci's Andrew Schmidt stands by.
  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

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