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Our play happens in September, 1847, Henry is about
about 30 years old. He was about 5’ 7”, firmly built, of
light complexion and hair, with strong eyes, His accent
is New England, Boston colonial perhaps. He can play the
flute. His clothes were solid and plain. He is best
known with a beard although he was most likely clean
shaven while at the cabin.
His friend Ralph Waldo Emerson later
wrote of Thoreau’s appearance:
"He wore straw hat, stout
shoes, strong gray trousers to brave shrub-oaks and
smilax, and to climb a tree ... his strong legs were
no insignificant part of his armor. His senses were
acute, his frame well-knit and hardy, his hands
strong and skillful in the use of tools. There was a
wonderful fitness of body and mind."
For our play, Henry is an
isolated, lonely, overly focused, overtly sincere man,
almost with a deer-in-the-headlights expression. He is
serious with no humor but who does funny, odd things. He
deeply believes in his writing, his views, and that no
one understands him.
About 50 years old, Ralph Waldo
Emerson was an inspiration and mentor to Thoreau.
Henry had been a member of Emerson household from
1841 to 1843, earning his living as a handyman for
the family. Emerson was educated in Boston and
Harvard. Most of his relatives were clergymen
including his father. Because of this, he has the
tone of a New England orator and that of a skeptic,
by nature. He was a minister that doubted God. He
once remarked that if his teachers had been aware of
his true thoughts, they would not have allowed him
to become a minister.
For our play Emerson is almost
fatherly in attitude and counsel to Thoreau. He is a
sounding board that incessantly challenges Henry to
points of frustration. But still a very good and
trusted friend. Their arguments are more like
intense banter, never angry, more oratory than loud.
In this play, this 60 year old, short thin character
with an English accent works for Henry’s father, who in
fact had a successful pencil shoppe. Joshua is a
jack-of-all-trades handyman. He loves Henry, knows him
well and believes in him. Although comparatively
uneducated, Joshua is a simple but wise man of great
common sense. He is funny but without ever trying to
joke around. His sincerity toward Henry is laced with a
somewhat British respect for royalty.
She is a young woman about 22 years old. Beautiful,
articulate and a feminist by nature in a society run by
men. Her tone has a hint of challenge, not rebellion.
There is an air of attraction between Rachel and Henry.
They notice each other but respect the loftiness of the
walls between them. She is submissive to her job but
doesn’t nessessarily acknowlage she is in a “place” as
men would want her to be.
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