Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Happenings at the Mark Twain House

Here are some upcoming events at the Mark Twain House in Hartford:

The Graveyard Shift Ghost Tours
Fridays and Saturdays Oct.8-30. Evening tours step off at 6 ,7, 8 and 9. Adult admission is $18; MTH&M members are $15; children under 16 are $13. Tours are not recommended for children under 10 years of age. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 860-280-3130.

Guests of The Graveyard Shift will receive no tricks, only treats when they visit The Mark Twain Museum Store - a trick-or-treat goodie and 10% off all purchases including a new glow-in-the-dark Graveyard Shift t-shirt.

Music & Truth: A Tribute to Twain
The Woodland Concert Series at Immanuel Congregational Church will present a performance of area artists in honor of the neighborhood's beloved Mark Twain Saturday, Oct. 16 at 7:30 pm. The concert will feature acclaimed pianist Paul Bisaccia, Hartford Children's Theatre, choral ensemble Voce, and The Mark Twain House & Museum.

The evening's program will be a celebration of the music Samuel Clemens loved (and loathed) along with readings from his beloved works. Highlights will include selections from the musical The Apple Tree (based on Twain's "The Diaries of Adam & Eve"), spirituals and popular tunes from the Victorian Era, a world premiere of a piano piece by Hartford composer Dudley Buck, and a little sampling of Wagner - a composer who failed to measure up to Twain's standards ("...some of Wagner's operas bang on for six whole hours on a stretch!").

Immanuel Congregational Church is located at 10 Woodland St. near the intersection of Farmington Avenue (across from the Mark Twain House) in Hartford's West End. Free parking is available at 19 Woodland St. and The Mark Twain House & Museum parking lot.

Mark Twain & The Army of Darkness
On Saturday, October 30th at 4 p.m., The Mark Twain House & Museum has recruited three authors who have given Mark Twain's characters a mutant makeover, inflicting all sorts of blood-spattered trauma on Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and Huck's friend Jim.

Mark Twain & The Army of Darkness will be an opportunity for horror-comedy fans to m-eat the brains behind this barbaric brand of books: Don Borchert (Tor Publishing's recent release The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Undead), W. Bill Czolgosz (appearing via Skype, author of the forthcoming Simon & Schuster release Adventures of Huckleberry Finn & Zombie Jim) and Joe R. Lansdale (creator of IDW Publishing's forthcoming Classics Mutilated novella Dread Island). Attempting to keep the gore-filled frenzy at a minimum will be program moderator Sam Hatch, host of WWUH's Culture Dogs and frequent guest on 96.5TIC's Damon Scott Show and WNPR's Colin McEnroe Show. In addition, the audience will get a sneak peek at scenes from a new zombie movie being shot in Connecticut - Ninja Zombies!

What would Mark Twain make of the recent spate of undead torment being heaped upon classic literature? Evidence indicates he probably would have joined in the fun, at least as far as Jane Austen was concerned: "It seems a great pity that they allowed her to die a natural death." (Letter to W. D. Howells, January 18, 1909). He further states, "Everytime I read Pride and Prejudice I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone." (Letter to Joseph Twichell, September 13,1898) Turnabout being fair play, Twain gets his own unnatural treatment with this spate of new books.

Macabre Macbeth in Basement
"Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble!" With these words, three witches foretell a dark fate for the Scottish soldier whose designs on the throne of Scotland will result in a bloody undoing for Macbeth and his infamous wife.

Capital Classics, a 20-year old theatrical troupe known for their popular outdoor Shakespeare Festival, have decided to revisit this cursed classic in an all-new "reader's theatre" adaptation of A Macabre Macbeththat will be performed in a decidedly spooky location -- the basement of the Mark Twain House -- for three performances only: Thursday, Oct. 28 at 8, Friday, Oct. 29 at 10:30 and Saturday, Oct. 30, at 10:30 pm.

The Trouble Begins at 5:30 Sries Continues

Kathy Maher, Executive Director of The Barnum Museum in Bridgeport, will be speaking Wednesday, Oct. 13, at 5:30 pm on "A Mark Twain Mystery: Mark Twain and P.T. Barnum."

Future "Troubles" include:
-- "A Mark Twain Mystery: What Happened to Charles Ethan Porter?" Wednesday, Oct. 20. Craig Hotchkiss, the Mark Twain House & Museum's education director, plumbs a fascinating mystery: What happened between Mark Twain and Charles Ethan Porter, a promising African American painter from Hartford whose art education in Paris was sponsored by the author, but who inexplicably fell out of Twain's favor so badly that his career went into severe decline?

-- "A Mark Twain Mystery: The Story of Elmira." Wednesday, Oct. 27. Barbara Snedecor, director of the Center for Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College in Elmira, NY, unravels the tale of the "other" Mark Twain House: Quarry Farm, the place where the Clemenses spent their summers while living in Hartford, and its particular creative effect on the author.

For information on the series, call Steve Courtney at 860-247-0998, Ext. 243.

The house and museum at 351 Farmington Ave. are open Monday through Saturday, 9:30 am to 5:30 pm and Sunday, noon-5:30 pm. For more information, call 860-247-0998 or visit www.marktwainhouse.org.

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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