At 6:30 PM on Friday, September 23, the American Antiquarian Society will take visitors back to the late 1840s, as Jay DiPrima recreates Henry David Thoreau’s lecture “Economy.” Thoreau originally delivered his lecture, drawn from his early writings on his year at Walden Pond, on Friday, April 20, 1849 at Worcester City Hall. A review in the Worcester Palladium from April 25, 1849 described how the “sylvan philosopher” offered an
autobiography of two years of life in the woods;–an experiment by the lecturer to illustrate, not perhaps so much the absurdity of the present organization and customs of society, as the ease with which a man of … stern expedients may have ample leisure for the cultivation of his intellectual powers and the acquisition of knowledge.
This lecture on the simplification of life also sheds light on Walden’s roots as an oral text, one that was given as a series of lectures many times before it appeared in print.
Jay DiPrima has been performing theater pieces based on Thoreau and his writings for over twenty-five years. Jay received his Ph.D. in Educational Theatre from NYU, and from 1992-95 was the Artistic Director of the Worcester Children’s Theatre. He teaches courses in drama, education, and creative arts at colleges across Massachusetts.
This performance will take place in the Society’s main library building, Antiquarian Hall, located at 185 Salisbury Street in Worcester. It is free and open to the public. It is offered as part of the “Cosmopolitan Lyceum” research symposium, sponsored by the AAS and the University of Oxford.