Einstein impersonator coming to Wellsboro’s Deane Center

WELLSBORO — William Agress of Lawrenceville, New Jersey, will portray Albert Einstein in the Coolidge Theatre at the Deane Center for the Performing Arts, 104 Main Street, at 7 p.m. Sept. 21. His “History Comes Alive” presentation as the world’s most famous eccentric genius is titled “From Ulm to Princeton.”

Agress speaks in the first person as Einstein and looks like him.

“I’ve always been fascinated by history,” said Agress who is a reenactor, actor, planner and teacher. “Thirty-five years ago, in 1983, an historian friend got me into American Revolutionary War reenacting.” Two of the patriots Agress portrays are Colonel Edward Hand of the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment, a little-known hero of the Second Battle of Trenton, and General George Washington who became the first President of the United States.

In 2008, Mimi Omiecinski, owner of the Princeton Tour Company in New Jersey, asked him to play Washington for a poster to promote her company’s bike tours. During the photo shoot, Omiecinski told Agress she was planning to start Pi Day in Princeton that March to celebrate both mathematics and Einstein’s birthday. The first three digits in Pi are 3.14 and Einstein was born on March 14, 1879 in Ulm, Germany, the son of a Jewish electrical engineer. She told Agress, “You know Bill if you can play Washington you can certainly play Einstein.”

“Because Einstein was probably the most famous person to live in Princeton I began doing research to find out more about him,” Agress said. “I played Einstein at the inaugural Princeton Pi Day in March 2008 and every March since.”

Through his research, Agress learned that Einstein grew up in Germany and Italy and studied physics and mathematics at the Federal Polytechnic Academy in Switzerland. In 1905, he published five theoretical papers that had a profound effect on the development of modern physics.

As a world-renowned public figure, Einstein became increasingly political on behalf of the Jewish people, which made him unpopular in his homeland. In 1933, after Nazi leader Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany, Einstein renounced his German citizenship and left the country.

Later that year, Einstein settled in the United States, where he accepted a position at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He worked there for 22 years until his death on April 18, 1955 at the age of 76. In 1940, he had become a U.S. citizen.

Agress also learned about Einstein’s childhood, his hobbies, his pets, what he liked to eat and how he helped young people in Princeton with their math homework.

“I have a copy of his report card so I know what subjects he was good in and those he wasn’t. I learned about his two wives, his two sons and his Theory of Relativity,” said Agrees. He also found out about Einstein’s eccentricities. Among them, his choice of clothes; the reason he did not drive a car or use a camera and the three reasons why he did not wear socks.

Following the performance, the audience is invited to ask questions and to take photos of and with Einstein.

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