A Play for the Ages

A Play for the Ages

By Vincent Abechian and Nathan Martinez

The drama program at Hoover High School put on a play called “The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail.” This play follows the life of Henry-David Thoreau, American naturalist and philosopher, and his extremely unique and interesting perspective on life.  

The play features many scenes in which Thoreau’s distinct way of thinking by highlighting the differences between Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American essayer and lecturer, who serves as an inspiration for Thoreau. 

However, Thoreau soon realizes that Emerson, the man he admires the most, is also part of the way of thinking that he is opposed to. Thoreau is thrown in jail for refusing to pay his taxes, since he believes that taxes are a corrupt and useless system. 

The play had a great director in Dave Huber who led the play in an interesting manner. He made the decision to put on the play in “the round,”, which is a playacting method in which the actors perform the play on a square stage in the center of the room, with the audience members sitting around them in close proximity. 

The actor who played Thoreau, Aidan Herbulot-Thomas, was on stage for nearly the entire time of the play. 

He had an extraordinarily long amount of lines to memorize, but he performed all of them perfectly. 

When asked what techniques he used to memorize such a great number of lines, Herbulot-Thomas stated “What I did first was I took out all the big chunks of dialogue, like monologues and stuff, and I would just read them over and over to myself. With dialogue, it was much simpler, because everything you say is triggered by something somebody else said, so you’re not doing as much work.” 

Herbulot-Thomas put on an amazing performance, and he is sure to be a part of many plays to come.

Jacob Escoto played Ralph Waldo Emerson. 

Escoto had the difficult job of portraying Emerson as Thoreau’s inspiration, but also as the man who makes Thoreau realize that he has misunderstood Emerson. This was Escoto’s first time performing a play in the round, so it was a new and exciting experience for the actor. 

When asked how performing in the round made the experience of acting different or more difficult, Escoto replied “Theatre in the round was a new experience that was exciting, especially for this play in particular. Having the audience around me got me so immersed in my scenes. For example, when I’m giving my speech on the podium, the audience was gathered around me in a circle, and it felt so real from the actor’s perspective.”