Shortly after I had started performing Edgar Allan Poe on a regular basis people started asking me who I intended to perform next. I hadn’t considered performing another character after all it was becoming a full time job just booking the Edgar Allan Poe show. Still the question persisted and I soon found myself answering, that I’d like to try Einstein and to see if I could convey the essence of Special and General Relativity in under an hour.
Where in the world did this idea come from? Well I had always been interested in Einstein and in particular the Special Theory of Relativity as it relates to the dilation of time and Einstein’s Twin Paradox.
That fascination had started in third grade, yes the very same year I became enamored with Edgar Allan Poe. Our entire school was marched into the cafeteria and to the musical accompaniment of the rhythmic tick, tick, tick, tick of the ancient 16mm movie projector we sat and watched with rapt attention the final in a series of films produced by the Bell Laboratory Science series, “About time” starring the loveable and all knowing, Dr. Frank Baxter.
This film deals with the question of time, what it is, how it works and if it is even real. The climax of the film is an animation of what has been commonly referred to as Einstein’s Twin Paradox.
The Twin Paradox tells the story of 2 twins. One stays home while the other travels to a distant star at speeds approaching the speed of light. Due to the speed of the traveling twin and the distance he is from the Earth, time moves much slower for him and when he returns to Earth he finds that he is much younger than his brother who remained earthbound.
This was a mind blowing concept for me. The thought that time was relative left an indelible impression on my young mind.
Not long after mentioning the idea of an Einstein show venues started asking about booking it. As it happened that Einstein’s birthday was coming up it was decided that would be the debut performance.
As this first performance loomed over my head I decided to lock myself into my house and get this show together. Armed with 2 dozen biographies, several physics text-books, an online course on Relativity and the German accent in a cassette tape I vowed not to leave the house until the show was ready.
During the next 30 days I kept my word and only ventured out for food and costume pieces. When I found a costume piece I would arrange it on the carpet as if building the character from scratch, first Einstein’s shoes then pants, shirt and finally the sweater (which is a story in itself.)
This isolation went on for nearly 3 weeks before the first stroke of inspiration appeared. I wrote the show in a week and a half and performed it on the 30th day to a packed house in La Jolla CA.
The rest is as we say history.
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