The ETSU Theatre Department will present their spring stage production of the two-act play by Robert Edwin Lee and Jerome Lawrence, “The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail,” on April 7-10.

Directed by ETSU professor Bobby Funk, the play tells the true story of Henry David Thoreau, who is arrested after refusing to pay the tax to support the Mexican-American War in 1846.

During Thoreau’s night in jail, he recounts memories of his past that led to this pivotal moment in his life. ETSU student Evin McQuistion will step into the leading role of Henry Thoreau.

“He’s fiercely individualistic, full of dry humor, wickedly intelligent and hopelessly in love with nature,” McQuistion said of his character. “The play’s premise is on him and his memories of his life. His passion and idealism form the drive and conflicts of the play.”

“The cast has worked so hard to bring this show to life,” said Kate Handzlik, the stage manager on the production. “We had our first production meeting — where the designers, director, and stage manager come together to brainstorm and problem solve — in the beginning of December. We started rehearsing in the beginning of February. We rehearse anywhere from 3-5 days a week for 2-3 hours per night.”

The cast and crew made up of ETSU Theatre majors and minors are now working toward final rehearsals and last-minute decisions to prepare for opening night next Friday.

“I’m most looking forward to seeing this show come together,” Handzlik said. “That’s one of my favorite parts of stage managing; I’ve seen the work and creative process of everyone involved in this show since that first production meeting, and to watch it all come together is amazing. I think the audience will be pleasantly surprised by the themes in ‘The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail.’ The themes are timeless and really speak to what is happening in the world today.”

Other main cast members include Ryan Stapleton as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Caroline Denning as Lydian Emerson, Reagan James as Cynthia Dunbar Thoreau and Matt L. Edwards as John Thoreau.

“There is an excitement and affection for these characters and for the Concord that we’ve built that I think the audience will be able to pick up on and appreciate,” McQuistion said. “Our director, Bobby Funk, has made a real point to clarify who these people were in the dramatic sense of this play and in a historical sense for us to be able to accurately show the essence of them and the time in which they lived.”

“The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail” will be performed in the Bud Frank Theatre April 7-9 at 7:30 p.m. and April 10 at 2 p.m. The show will also be interpreted in sign language on Sunday, April 10. General admission is $10 or $7 for students, faculty and staff with ID. Tickets can be ordered online at or purchased at the door one hour prior to each show. For more information, contact William Cate at 423-439-6524 or