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(Comments on Trust Thyself)

Wendell Refior in character as Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Refior, with his mutton-chop sideburns, made a convincing portrait, or tableau vivant, of the Sage of Concord at the podium. Delivering the young Emerson’s 1830 sermon, “Trust Thyself,” Refior urged his audience to defy conformity and seek their own genius. Pausing at times, chuckling or gesticulating, he seemed like Emerson himself – if a bit older than the young man who originally prepared the sermon –delivering a well-rehearsed speech as if he were thinking of it for the first time.”
Rick Heller
Journalist and Author, Belmont, MA


Wendell Refior interprets Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Wendell Refior, in the character and costume of Ralph Waldo Emerson, led the order of worship for a well-attended service at the historic First Parish of Watertown on August 12, 2007. The opening and closing words were from Emerson’s The Over-Soul and the (Harvard) Divinity School Address. He delivered Emerson’s sermon No. 90, attributed the title “Trust Thyself.” Rev. Mr. Emerson first delivered it at Second Church,Boston, October 3, 1830, proclaiming, “I wish to enforce the doctrine that a man should trust himself.” Refior later commented that self-respect and the self-reliance which grows out of the Scripture doctrine of the value of the soul capture the main theme of the sermon. Mr. Refior’s performance captured the sincerity and enthusiasm of the great teacher.”
Lance McKee
Independent Writer, Worcester, MA


Emerson Scholar and Interpreter Wendell Refior

“I really enjoyed your performance on Saturday. As you began speaking I realized how odd it was not to have had any notion of what Emerson’s voice had really sounded like.  We live in such an audio-visual age! It was quite wonderful to sink into the feeling that Emerson’s words really were ‘voiced’, and not simply read! I also thought you captured Emerson’s gentle, kindly, but intellectual, demeanor quite well. Your performance was charming in that regard as well.”
Boston Area Unitarian-Universalist Minister



Wendell Refior delivers Emerson address

“One of our employees was turning 65. She’s a real history buff. She is mostly into the Civil War, but she loves the local authors and her favorite happens to be Emerson.
“We thought, wouldn’t that be fun, to have him come to dinner and talk to us about what it was like living in that time and tell us what an average day in Concord was like.
“We rented the Alcott room at the Colonial Inn. Everyone assembled. I came in with Ralph. Mary was quite surprised. He sat next to Mary and then we all ate dinner and pretended like we were just having a meal. We asked questions and he answered them.
“It was really fun. We had a great time. I would recommend it.”
Marie Foley
Concord Hand Designs


(Comments on The Protest)

Wendell Refior interpreting Ralph Waldo Emerson in front of the Emerson house
Wendell Refior in character as Ralph Waldo Emerson
Wendell Refior Wendell Refior and Ann in Emerson Period Costume

“When Wendell Refior delivers a full-length sermon or lecture by Ralph Waldo Emerson, he virtually ‘becomes’ Waldo Emerson. Many eyewitness accounts survive describing Emerson’s unassuming platform style—his conversational delivery and minimal gestures that somehow captivated and even electrified his audiences. As Wendell’s collaborator in an NEH seminar for college teachers (offering an ‘academic’ foreground to Wendell’s ‘performance’ of Emerson), I have joined in the loud and sustained ovations that ‘he’ receives as ‘Waldo.’”Wesley T. Mott
Professor of English, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, &
President (2010), The Ralph Waldo Emerson Society


“For fifty minutes, Emerson’s words came to life. For the next hour, Emerson’s philosophy came to life as you managed the discussion with diplomacy and erudition. You embodied Emerson in your approach to the audience, and I think the discussion was as successful as the performance itself. Participants raved about Ralph Waldo Emerson day on the Lyceum tour, and you are mainly responsible for that. I look forward to working with you again.”
Richard A. Katula,
Ph.D. Professor of Communication Studies, Northeastern University, Boston, MA


“Mr. Refior’s scholarship was apparent, and informed his responses, which were both challenging and uplifting. At no time did I find the performance inconsistent with anything I know about Emerson. Instead he offered solidly grounded and strongly defensible interpretations of all, even the most complex, I feel lucky to have had the chance to work with Mr. Refior, and would be delighted to have the chance to do so again. I strongly and without reservations recommend his impersonation of Emerson to anyone who knows, or would want to know, the Sage of Concord.”
Dr. Frederick J. Antczak Dean
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI