The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail

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The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail is a two-act play by Robert Edwin Lee and Jerome Lawrence written in 1970. The play is based on the early life of the titular character, Henry David Thoreau, leading up to his night spent in a jail in Concord, Massachusetts. Thoreau was jailed for refusing to pay a poll tax on the grounds that the money might be used to pay for the Mexican-American War, which he opposed.

The original text

The play was first produced at the Ohio State University, opening on April 21, 1969 and directed by Dr. Roy Bowen. It received its professional debut at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. on October 23, 1970.

Translations and adaptations

Hal B. Wallis is the producer of the film based on the play, for which both Lawrence and Lee wrote the screenplay.

Performance history in South Africa

1984: Presented by PACT Drama in 1984 directed by Norman Coombes starring Michael McCabe, Gillian Garlick, Patricia Sanders, Neil McCarthy, Steffen Zoutendijk, Frantz Dobrowsky, Ronald Wallace, Julie Coghlan, Peter Terry, Dieter Hambloch/Matthew Rabinowitz, Sydney Chama, Jenny Sharp, Matthew Krouse, Guilio Biccari. Designer Chris van den Berg, lighting and senior stage manager Jane Gosnell.

1988: The play was presented by the University of Cape Town Drama Department at the Little Theatre directed by Mavis Taylor from 7 to 17 September 1988 starring Damon Galgut, Deirdre Wolhuter, Satara Lester, Warrick Grier, Alistair Prodgers, Barry Berk, Emma-Jane Mezher, Jud Millner, Daniel Berk, Linda Mpondo, Sarah Matchett, Wilmien Rossouw, Alan Glauber. Set design by Fred du Preez, costume design by John Caviggia, lighting design by Kevi Yates. Stage manager Wilmien Rossouw.


Wikipedia [1].

The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail theatre programmes, 1984, 1988.

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