lbert Einstein is the most influential physicist of the 20th century and just might be one of the most famous and celebrated scientists to have ever lived.
Accomplished actor George Capaccio returns to Leominster Public Library, by popular demand, Sunday, Jan. 13, at 2 p.m., to present the second part of his look at Einstein’s life and times. The library is at 30 West St.
Capaccio’s one-man show, “Albert Einstein: Reluctant Superstar,” is a great way to learn about this extraordinary individual and his ideas, which revolutionized physics and forever changed how we understand space, time and gravity.
The show explores the scientist’s middle and later years when he used his well-deserved fame to win a wider acceptance of his theories, and to promote humanitarian causes in which he passionately believed.
“My goal is to bring this great scientist down to earth and make his ideas accessible to the general public,” George says. “I enjoy highlighting Einstein’s very human qualities, including his sense of humor, his fondness for Jewish jokes, and his trials and tribulations as a family man.”
As a storyteller, George says he is more accustomed to telling traditional stories from different cultures and doing so as himself, not as an historical character. However, he felt it was time to try something different.
“I knew about an organization called Solo Together, which is an informal, Cambridge-based group of performers who specialize in performing historical/literary characters,” he says. “Their work inspired me to jump out of myself and into the role of Albert Einstein.”
Last fall in Leominster, George performed the first part of his Einstein program, “Albert Einstein: Relatively Speaking.” That show interweaves the scientist’s major scientific theories with biographical material from his childhood through his 20s and 30s.
On Jan. 13, he’ll present the second part of his program, “Albert Einstein: Reluctant Superstar,” focusing more on Einstein’s experiences as a Jew in Nazi Germany, his decision to leave his homeland as a refugee, and his growing celebrity following the end of World War I and the confirmation of his theory of general relativity.
Why Einstein, though?
George says he felt a certain connection with him, not in terms of Einstein’s scientific genius but rather with his nonconformity and his penchant for thinking “outside of the box.”
“He rejected all forms of ‘isms,’ whether nationalism, patriotism, militarism or communism” (though he was branded a communist by various right-wing groups as well as by the FBI under its director J. Edgar Hoover).
The show on Jan. 13 also presents Einstein’s commitment to issues of social justice and worldwide disarmament, and his opposition to racism during the final decades of his life when he lived in the United States as a naturalized citizen.
“There is another reason why I was drawn to Albert, and that has to do with his essential humanity and his political activism,” says George, who says he is also something of a political activist.
“I think these elements of his life are where he and I stand on common ground. I want my audiences to learn that, besides being a theoretical physicist, Albert was profoundly concerned about moral and political issues, and never in his life compromised his humanist principles.
“Stories have the power to change lives,” George adds. “As educational tools, stories and storytelling play a vital role in bringing lessons to life.”
The event is part of the library’s yearlong series, Leominster Library University.
“This year, the Leominster Public Library is highlighting the role of the library as a learning institution by encouraging the community to attend classes, gain ‘credits’ and finally graduate,” says Diane Sanabria, Young Adult Services coordinator in the Robert Cormier Center for Young Adults. “The credits aren’t real, but the learning definitely is.”
When patrons “enroll” in LLU, they receive a punch card. Attending a library program earns a punch in their card.
“Attending 10 classes, programs or events fills the patron’s card,” Diane says. “Finished cards will qualify participants for ‘graduation’ from LLU and earns entries into prize drawings.”
If you haven’t already done so, you can sign up at any time. Just stop by one of the service desks to register. If you’ve already registered, remember your punch card to earn class credits.
For information on this event or Leominster Library University, stop by or call 978-534-7522.
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