This story was originally published in the March 2017 Princeton Echo.
As has become a Princeton tradition, Mimi Omiecinski of Princeton Tour Company and area merchants will mark Albert Einstein’s birthday with the town’s annual Pi Day celebration on Saturday, March 11. (Einstein’s actual birthday is March 14, or 3/14 — like the mathematical constant pi.)
The day-long celebration includes activities for all ages including pie-eating, baking, and throwing, pi recitation, and Einstein look-alike contests, a pub crawl, Dinky rides with Einstein, a violin exhibit, a bike tour, and a surprise birthday party, along with many other activities and pi-themed deals from retailers and restaurants.
Special this year are two performances of the one-man play “Einstein!” at the Arts Council of Princeton. The show was created by Jack Fry, a former public school teacher in Los Angeles who wrote and performed the award-winning play “They Call Me Mr. Fry” based on his teaching experience.
“Einstein!” has been Fry’s project for the last three years and has received awards at the Hollywood International, New York, and London fringe festivals. The play starts in Berlin in 1914, when Einstein is 35 and trying to prove his theory of general relativity. But his life is crumbling: a marriage is ending and straining Einstein’s relationship with his 10-year-old son, established scientists don’t believe his theory, and anti-Semitism is on the rise.
In an interview on radio station WNYC, Fry explained his inspiration: “I was always fascinated with ESP, astroplaning, different dimensions, and I wanted to see what Albert Einstein thought about these different things. So I started looking into what his thoughts were about those. They’re pretty much proven now with quantum physics. So I came across this story that had never been told before about his younger life in Berlin struggling to prove relativity, and every thing that could go wrong went wrong. And I was just sidetracked I said, ‘Wow, this is a great story.’ It’s based on the 2007 release of 15,000 documents by Hebrew University. And it was a story that just got under my skin. I said I had to tell this story.”
“I kind of fell in love with my subject as I was studying him,” Fry said. “Also ironically I found out it takes a lifetime to learn about somebody’s lifetime, no matter who they are.”
“His critics and naysayers always say oh he was just a Spock, no sort of emotion to him, but that wasn’t true at all,” Fry added. “He was very smart, and I also related to his story of strife and struggle, the way he had to go up against all odds in order to believe something no one else did.”
“Einstein!” is appropriate for ages 10 and up. Sataurday, March 11, at 3 and 7:30 p.m. at the Arts Council of Princeton, 102 Witherspoon Street. $15. For information visit artscouncilofprinceton.org.