Boston and Concord, MA – June 14, 2017 – The Trustees announces that it will present TigerLion Arts’ critically acclaimed outdoor walking play Nature at the Old Manse in Concord this fall. 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 created and performed by Tyson Forbes, a direct descendant of Ralph Waldo Emerson and his wife, Markell Kiefer, who also 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 which 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 to be hired from the Concord community this summer. This is Nature’s first performance on the East Coast after a successful season touring multiple sites in the Midwest in 2015 and 2016.
“Our properties around the state have been, and continue to be, a creative platform for artists and writers, with The Old Manse inspiring some of the greatest minds in our time” says Barbara Erickson, Trustees President & CEO. “How fitting that this incredible historic site will serve as the setting for the East Coast’s first production of Nature where two of America’s leading transcendentalists, Emerson and Thoreau, nurtured their friendship and were inspired to write some of their most important works. We are excited to share this amazing experience with our members and visitors this fall.”
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, 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. A child actor will be hired from the community this summer to play the role of Elly, Emerson’s daughter. Current cast bios are available at http://tigerlion.org/nature/cast.php. Bagpipes, ancient flutes, drums and rich choral arrangements are intricately woven into the script with compositions by Dick Hensold (2006 Bush Artist Fellow).
Tickets will go on sale on August 1, 2017 and can be purchased by visiting www.thetrustees.org/natureplay. Trustees members: adults $20, children $10; Nonmembers: adults $25, children $15. The Trustees will be working with multiple local community partners to present educational programming related to the play, 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.
More about the Old Manse
The Old Manse is one of The Trustees’ most exceptional cultural sites located on nine acres in the historic town of Concord, MA. A National Historic Landmark, the eight room, traditional Georgian-style clapboard home was built in 1770 by patriot minister William Emerson, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s grandfather. From the upstairs, visitors can look out at the Old North Bridge over the Concord River, where the Revolutionary War began on April 19, 1775. For years, the site served as a home and gathering place for the authors, artists, philosophers, and intellectuals who helped shape the Early American Republic’s reform movements – the Revolution and Transcendentalism. William Emerson was the first to answer the alarm bell in Concord that warned of the British Regulars’ approach and there is speculation that he may also have fought at the Battle on the Old North Bridge. Before the revolution, the house served as a community meeting place where area residents and leaders discussed the issues of the day.
On the literary side, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathanial Hawthorne both called the Manse home at one time and drafted some of their most famous works there. In 1836, Ralph Waldo Emerson penned his famous essay “Nature,” considered to be the Transcendentalist Movement’s foundational work. Emerson’s writings became the foundation for Henry David Thoreau’s intellectual pursuits and for his seminal work, Walden. Thoreau, a friend of Emerson who often visited the Manse, would later set off from the home for a boat trip that he would ultimately describe in A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers. Nathaniel Hawthorne, who named the home “The Manse” (a term that refers to a Minister’s House) in 1842, wrote Mosses from an Old Manse at the property. He and his wife, Sophia, started their married life there, and visitors can still see the poems they wrote to each other, etched on the Manse’s windowpanes. The heirloom vegetable garden, originally planted by Henry David Thoreau in honor of the Hawthorne’s wedding, has been recreated today. Other leading Transcendentalists such as Bronson Alcott and Margaret Fuller also discussed the issues of the day at the site.
More about The Trustees
Founded by landscape architect Charles Eliot in 1891, The Trustees has, for more than 125 years, been a catalyst for important ideas, endeavors, and progress in Massachusetts. As a steward of distinctive and dynamic places of both historic and cultural value, The Trustees is the nation’s first preservation and conservation organization, and its landscapes and landmarks continue to inspire discussion, innovation, and action today as they did in the past. We are a nonprofit supported by members, friends and donors and our more than 115 sites are destinations for residents, members, and visitors alike, welcoming millions of guests annually. www.thetrustees.org.
More about TigerLion Arts
TigerLion Arts, founded and led by Markell Kiefer and Tyson Forbes, is a Minneapolis-based production company with a mission to celebrate human wisdom and the spirit of nature through creative works that awaken, inform, and delight. Since 2009, TigerLion Arts has touched thousands nationwide with four original productions: The Buddha Prince (2009), a walking play about the life of the Dalai Lama performed in New York City's Central Park; Nature (2010); KIPO! (2011), a circus of spirit, song and dance from Tibet, which was the official arts component of the Dalai Lama's 2011 Minnesota visit, and The Dragons are Singing Tonight (2012), a musical based on the book of children's poetry by Jack Prelutsky, created in collaboration with Circus Juventas and Minnesota Boychoir.
Nature was honored in the Minneapolis Star Tribune as the “Best of 2014: Striking performances mark best in theater” after presenting at the MN Landscape Arboretum in 2014. Lauded by Cherry and Spoon’s editor as being “one of the most special and unique theater experiences I've ever had”. In 2015 & 2016 Nature toured to 15 parks and arboretums in Minnesota, Illinois, Ohio and Iowa as part of their nationwide tour called Nature for the Nation.
The Concord leg of the tour is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Park Service’s "Imagine Your Parks" grant - supporting projects that use the arts to engage people with memorable places.