The Concord Free Press

Playwright to Visit for Final Rehearsals of “Thoreau”

Jerome Lawrence, co-author of “Auntie Maine” and “Inherit the Wind,” will be in Concord this weekend. The playwright’s visit is more than a social call: his latest work, “The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail,” is in final rehresals at the Veterans Building, and Lawrence wants to be on hand.

THOREAU is the product of some seven years’ work for Lawrence and co-author Robert Lee. Their play portrays Henry David Thoreau in his late twenties, a man whose mind is burning with many fires. His relationship with authority was strained;his willingness to go to jail rather than pay a small poll tax is caitral to the action. A century ago Thoreau, so well known as a man of nature, struggled with the same problems of civil disobedience and race discrimination which blight our country today.

THOREAU had its premiere in Columbus, Ohio, last Spring. In the span of six months since then, the play has been under contract for production for more than a hundred theater companies across the nation Hal Walls has bought movies rights for release in ‘71 and ‘72.

Jerome Lawrence has a special interest in coming to the Concord production. He will spend a number of hours with Director Virginia Kirshner in rehearsals at the Veterans Building. But one cannot help but speculate on the special feeling one gets when renewing his acquaintance with Thoreau ( along the pine needle paths he knew on the high banks above Walden Pond. The Thoreau Lyceum with its reconstruction of the Thoreau cabin, the Emerson House, the river and other places here were central to Thoreau’s life and his writings.

Lydian Emerson (Patricia Butcher) and Henry Thoreau (Terry Beasor)

With opening night only two weeks away, the cast of THOREAU seems at home with the play. What now remains is the development of the real depth which differentiates a moving performance from a mediocre one. Lawrence's presence is well-timed toward this goal.

Opening night is November 12, and ticket sales have been unusually strong thus far. Reserved seats are available at Richardson’s Drug, Concord, and Stop, Look and Listen.

Performance dates are November 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 27,28.