In economic terms, Henry David Thoreau had always been something of a washout. He dropped in and out of Harvard for financial reasons before completing a degree that basically took him nowhere. He taught at the Concord public school for just two weeks, resigning after a disagreement over disciplining students. The private school he opened with his brother, John, folded when John fell ill. After Thoreau went back to work in his father’s pencil factory, he got a job as a live-in handyman for Ralph Waldo Emerson. That’s when he proposed to Emerson the novel (and decidedly frugal) experiment of Walden Pond. At his one-room abode, he finished his first book—another dead-end, after the publisher dumped seven hundred unsold copies on Emerson’s doorstep. Only then did he consider writing about what he found while living in the forest outside of Concord. Playwright Zack Fine, who played Oberon in PlayMakers Rep’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, returns to direct and perform in the world premiere of his comic look at the failures that set Thoreau up for his greatest success. —Byron Woods