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Ron Rembert to Revive His Socrates One-Man Show

Prof Reworked Plato's 'The Apology' after Decade-Plus Hiatus

October 31, 2013

When Socrates was placed on trial to defend his life as a philosopher in 399 B.C., he was found guilty and sentenced to death — he was forced to drink poisonous hemlock.

Some 2,412 years later, in 2013, Wilmington College’s Ron Rembert will portray the classical, Greek Athenian philosopher and his audience will serve as the jury.

Rembert, professor of religion and philosophy, will present a one-man show featuring dialogue from Plato’s The Apology Friday (Nov. 8), at 7:30 p.m., in the McCoy Room of Kelly Center. It will follow a Thursday afternoon (noon to 1 p.m.) performance for his philosophy students and other campus persons.

Rembert, who last gave his popular Socrates portrayal more than 10 years ago, has reworked the presentation and added dialogue on human virtue from Plato’s Meno, “to show a little more of Socrates in action” before his trial.

“It shows Socrates’ way of engaging in discussion and why that might be worrisome,” said Rembert, who created the show as a result of a Texas Humanities Council grant while teaching at Texas Wesleyan University in the 1980s. He first performed The Apology at WC during his first year on the faculty in 1989.

He said the use of the word apology in this sense refers to a defense of one’s actions rather than a statement of remorse or petition for forgiveness. Plato, one of Socrates’ students, wrote The Apology, which is believed to be an accurate account of what Socrates said at his trial, although not necessarily verbatim.

(LEFT) Ron Rembert


“It’s Plato’s words put into the mouth of Socrates. It’s Socrates’ defense of his life as a philosopher,” he said. “I want my students to hear the words of Plato in our own time and place — the text still has meaning for us.

“It’s meant to be an educational experience, not just entertaining.”

Rembert, who reworked the presentation with new material during his faculty sabbatical last spring, expressed how “meaningful” is has been for him to revisit The Apology after a decade-plus hiatus.

“I’m growing older and closer to Socrates’ age, which was 70 at the time of his trial,” he said. “I bring new experiences to it myself. I’m not 70, but I’m closer to it than I was the last time I did it.”

Rembert wants to impress upon his students that “old can be good” even in a contemporary society that often places an emphasis upon youthfulness.

“In this case, an ancient text can be relevant,” he added. “The emphasis always seems to be on newer, better, faster — I believe something ancient can be good too.”

Rembert will invite his audience to be ready to act as jurors.

“The question is not whether Socrates is guilty or innocent, but is he persuasive? His defense seems worth considering.”