The Trustees of Reservations announces that it will present TigerLion Arts’ critically acclaimed outdoor walking play Nature at the Old Manse in Concord September 22 through October 1. The Old Manse is a National Historic Landmark and popular destination for tourists and literary enthusiasts situated on the banks of the Concord River next to the Old North Bridge and Minuteman National Park. It was built by Patriot Minister William Emerson in 1770, grandfather of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Nature is an original work collaboratively written and created by Tyson Forbes, a direct descendant of Ralph Waldo Emerson who also plays the role of Emerson, and his wife, Markell Kiefer, who serves as the director. The play explores humankind’s relationship to nature through the eyes of two of America’s greatest environmental voices and friends, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, who is celebrating his bicentennial birthday this year.
Emerson lived and wrote some of his most famous works at The Old Manse, including the first draft of his famed essay, “Nature.” The Manse also served as a focal point of America’s political, literary, and social revolutions. Thoreau was a frequent visitor and guest. Through a series of 11 performances starting September 22, 2017 and running through October 1, 2017, audiences will experience a playful and deeply moving outdoor “journey” among the Old Manse’s grassy meadows and native trees and plantings as scenes unfold through a combination of music, story, and song. The 90-minute family-friendly performance will be presented by an award-winning ensemble of professional traveling actors, including a local chorus led by The First Parish Church of Concord’s Music Director, Beth Norton and child cast member from the Concord community. This is Nature’s first performance on the East Coast after a successful season touring multiple sites in the Midwest in 2015 and 2016.
Producer and actor Tyson Forbes has always felt honored to be an Emerson descendent and developed Nature to help fulfill a sense of responsibility to share his ancestor’s spirit and teachings with a broader audience. He has long hoped that one day the play would be presented in Concord where their friendship and many works were first incubated. “Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau were authors, friends, and radicals of their time, calling on their peers to think for themselves, live more deeply, and be agents of change,” adds Forbes. “I believe their words and ideas are as relevant and necessary now as they were then and I am thrilled to be able to share this story of their friendship and history in Concord, where it all began, for the first time.”
The professional ensemble cast features Michael Wieser (Williamstown, Jungle Theater, Classic Stage Company, Manhattan Arts Center) as Thoreau; Tyson Forbes (Guthrie Theater, Ordway, Jungle Theater and multiple TigerLion Arts productions) as Emerson; Norah Long (Guthrie Theater, Lyric Stage Company of Boston, Skylark Opera, Chanhassen Dinner Theater, Nautilus Music-Theater) as Mother Nature, Emily Gunyou Halaas (Guthrie Theater, Jungle Theater, Park Square) as Mary Moody, Aeysha Kinnunen as Margaret Fuller, Shana Berg as Lydian Jackson, Tony Sarnicki, Matt Sciple, Nathan Gebhard and Andrew Forbes, as well as a volunteer community chorus led by Beth Norton, Music Director at the Concord First Parish Church who will be joined by singers from the church and other members of the community. Addison Boger, great niece of past Garden Club of the Back Bay President Francine Crawford, will play the role of Elly, Emerson’s daughter. Bagpipes, ancient flutes, drums and rich choral arrangements are intricately woven into the script with compositions by Dick Hensold (2006 Bush Artist Fellow).
Tickets can be purchased by visiting www.thetrustees.org/natureplay. Trustees members: adults $20, children $10; Nonmembers: adults $25, children $15. The Trustees are working with multiple local community partners to present educational programming related to the play such as post show discussions and a family theatre workshop, including: The Thoreau Society; Thoreau Farm Trust; The Walden Woods Project; the Concord Museum; and Minute Man National Historical Park. For more information visit www.thetrustees.org.
Nature begins near the apple orchard at the Old Manse located at 269 Monument Street, Concord, MA. Audience members are encouraged to arrive early to visit the grounds. Picnic meals are welcome and can be enjoyed during the pre-show bagpiping and choral arrangements performed by local community members 30 minutes before the performance begins. Guests of all ages are encouraged to come as the show has somethings for everyone. Guests should dress for the weather, wear comfortable shoes, and bring water bottles. Run time is approximately 90 minutes without intermission. During the play, the audience will walk short distances between four different locations. Portable lawn chairs or blankets are recommended for seating, as there are a limited number of chairs, which will be reserved for those who need them most. The Trustees will also provide transportation for people with limited mobility. In the event of rain, ticket holders may come back for any subsequent performance.