“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” – Mark Twain
“All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.” – Ernest Hemingway
Our PNT “Clearly Classic” imprimatur declares works worthy of your investigation. If Parson’s Nose Theater’s mission is to introduce – or reintroduce – the wonderful writing we might have missed or forgotten since our “educational” days, Greg White’s “Mark Twain and Friends: A River Journey” furthers that mission beautifully. Greg’s taken his love for Twain’s work and put it into a remarkably accessible dramatic format, with Twain himself, wonderfully portrayed by Paul Perri, coming out to greet us, on brief leave from The Beyond, so as to revisit some of the favorite characters of his life.
And for those of you who’ve seen Ken Burns’ wonderful two-part PBS series on Twain’s eventful life, you realize that these are not fictional characters but real people he chummed about with. You meet young Sam Clemens (Stuart Orloff) – the personification of “green” – and Bixby (John Harnagel) his surly riverboat pilot/mentor; The Blue Jay Woman (Jill Rogosheske) who fiercely defends the bird’s swearing; the Minister (James Calvert) who overcomes a huge language barrier to bury a beloved miner, and others; as well as the iconic figures of his work – Pap, Huck, Jim, Miss Watson, the Duke and the King.
In our diverse PNT style, director and company member Gary Lamb has provided a few surprises, casting local actress Heather Taylor as Huck and another few gender-bending choices. PNT Company veterans change characters as swiftly as their costumes. And the setting by Lamb, Paul Perri and Jen Orsini turns the imagination loose on a variety of scenarios from the Mississippi River to a Hannibal farmhouse.
It’s all quintessentially American. Our pride in who we are, and our curiosity about who we might become is affirmed. In a time of national concern White allows Twain to “hold the mirror up to Nature” as Hamlet advised, and trust that with Common Sense and a spirit of Charity we will overcome. If a backwoods boy will risk Hell itself rather than sell out his black friend – even though everything and everyone in his upbringing has cautioned him otherwise – then there’s hope for us “educated” folk.
We thank the City of Pasadena Cultural Affairs Commission, our donors, and our patrons for allowing us to bring this work to you. It won’t be on a screen, so join us! Bring the family down to our historic chapel and enjoy something old made new.