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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Einstein delivers two free performances at UNCP

UNC Pembroke audiences were treated to a conversation with one of the greatest thinker of all time, Albert Einstein.

Tom Schuch as Albert EinsteinActor Tom Schuch delivered a charming and informative one-man show October 10 featuring the Nobel scientist and his views on relativity, science, history and morality.

Almost 1,400 attended the 10 a.m. show at the Givens Performing Arts Center. Before the show many students said they did not know who Einstein was, but many more did.

“He’s an inventor,” said Shannishia Ransom, a 7th grader from Max Abbott Middle School in Fayetteville, N.C.

“He is a mathematician and an inventor,” said Giselle Hunley, a classmate. “He’s special.”

Einstein’s five landmark papers, that revolutionized physics and paved the way for the atomic age, turned 100 in 2005, giving rise to the “World Year in Physics 2005.”

Regardless of what the youngsters knew about him, after the show they knew a lot more about “Mr. relativity himself.” The audience afforded Einstein rock-star status with cheers before, after and during the show.

Portraying an elderly Einstein, Schuch chronicled the life of the brilliant and famously absent-minded scientist.

“As a small child I had great difficulty learning to talk,” he said. “They said I was a slow learner and a disruptive influence.”

“So, I began to question everything,” Einstein said. “In America, you would say I was a high school dropout.”

The dropout won friends and enemies in college as his genius emerged.

“College! Ha, ha, ha,” Einstein said. “Some professors liked me very much, some considered me arrogant. I was young.”

Tom Schuch as Albert EinsteinScience mingled with history through two World Wars. Einstein, a Jew with strong political opinions, fled Nazi persecution in Europe to America.

“I had hoped the end of World Wars would bring peace and justice to the world,” he said. “I would rather be shot than go to war.”

Einstein’s theories led to the creation of the bomb with his encouragement, at first.

“I wrote a letter to President Roosevelt telling him the Germans were stockpiling uranium,” he said. “If I had only known.”

“How I pray that science will not lead to the destruction of us all,” Einstein said. “The atomic bomb is the most savage weapon ever invented.”

Schuch’s Einstein praised scientific enquiry with moral constraints.

“The purpose of science is to serve mankind, not destroy it,” he said. “Moral progress has always been more important than scientific achievement.”

Robert Thrush of Moore County enjoyed the show with his two children.

“I brought my children because I want them to be exposed to Einstein,” Thrush said at intermission. “With age I understand gravity, but I am still having difficulty with relativity.”

UNCP’s Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP) and the Department of Chemistry and Physics sponsored the free show. Dr. Paul Flowers, chair of the Chemistry and Physics Department, was pleased.

“We were fortunate to have an actor of that caliber to represent someone of Einstein’s caliber,” Dr. Flowers said. “The kids came away knowing something about a great man.”

“Einstein: A Stage Portrait” was a part of GPAC’s On Stage for Youth Series. For more information about GPAC events, please call the box office at 910.521.6361 or email gpac@uncp.edu.

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