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Living history actor will bring to life American author Thoreau during a campus visit November 7

DATE: 10-24-2011

In the history of the Visiting Writers Program at Cayuga Community College, which the college's Humanities Division has sponsored since the 1960s, many prominent novelists, poets, journalists, and non-fiction writers have come to campus. But never has the program brought to campus a 19th-century writer—that is until this year, when Henry David Thoreau will speak to students at 11 a.m. on November 7 in the Student Lounge, Auburn Campus, 197 Franklin St. The event is open to the public.

Thoreau, portrayed by living history actor Richard Smith, will deliver some of his most famous speeches and writings, as though the clock had been flipped back to the mid-1800s. Smith is the official re-enactor of Thoreau at Walden Pond in Concord, Mass., and at the Annual Gathering of the Thoreau Society, and he also performs Thoreau in schools, colleges, and historical venues nationally.

Cayuga English Professor and Poet Howard Nelson invited Smith to campus after he witnessed the actor in action at the 2011 Annual Gathering of the Thoreau Society over the summer.

"I thought it would be interesting to have the students interact with an author from the 19th century," Nelson said. "Richard Smith is very knowledgeable about Thoreau and the whole period, and he delivers an authentic performance—presenting the ideas and words of Thoreau as he himself would have in a 19th century lecture hall."

Smith will present a different program, "An Evening with Henry David Thoreau," at 7:30 p.m. on November 7 at the Auburn Public Theater, 8 Exchange Street at Genesee, Auburn. Tickets are $10.

Smith holds a B.A. in History from the University of Akron, and has been portraying Thoreau for more than a decade and has been involved in living history for 20 years. In addition to live performances, he has appeared as Thoreau on television and DVDs.

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