Historical reenactment: John Brown lives again in Thoreau’s Words

This one’s for the history geeks among us (and I include myself in this): You will not want to miss a truly unique historical reenactment taking place tomorrow night Defending John Brown: Henry David Thoreau and Worcester’s Reform Tradition on Tuesday, November 3, 2009 at 7:30 p.m. at Mechanics’ Hall, Main Street, Worcester.Radaker As ThoreauWitness Henry David Thoreau (or at least, someone who looks very much like him) speak in defense of John Brown in exactly the same spot as he did 150 year ago to the day. (This second iteration will really be more of a dramatic monologue, so you will learn about other parts of Thoreau’s life and work as well.)

To crib from Jerry Seinfield’s catch-phraseology: What’s with the historical reenacting? I’m guessing some in our audience have participated in Civil War battle reenactments, or been costumed interpreters at a historic site. If so you know the strange power of putting on the same clothes, standing in the same spot, uttering the same words as an historical actor. It adds a whole new experiential dimension to what were once static words and images on a page. My personal experience with historical reenactment was sadly limited to an ill-advised college relationship with a member of the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism, for those less-geeky in our audience). Perhaps I am revealing to much here, but I have to say the best thing I got out of that relationship was a sword-fighting lesson from a bunch of dudes dressed in medieval armor.

BTW, if anyone else wants to share reenactment stories — the good, the bad, and the ahistorical — please add your comments below. I need to know I’m not alone!

For those of you not yet ready to make the jump to full-fledged costume wearing, don’t fret. You won’t have to dress up historically for tomorrow’s event, so it’s the perfect way to ease yourself into the experience. To help set the mood, check out this advance notice for Thoreau’s original speech that appeared in the Massachusetts Spy on November 3, 1859:

Thoreau Advertisement in Mass Spy

“As Mr. Thoreau never deals in common places, — as he considers Brown a hero, — and as he has been so moved by the Harper’s Ferry affair, as to feel compelled to leave his customary seclusion in order to address the public, what he has to say is likely to be worth hearing.”

We may have missed Thoreau’s speech the first time around, but now we can take advantage of a second chance to experience this moving speaker live. Click here for complete information on the speech and Kevin Radaker and Edmund A. Schofield who will be performing the dramatic monologue and providing historical commentary.

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