By Seth Jones | Reporter
Mark Twain is a highly regarded icon in American literary history who authored powerful works such as “The Prince and the Pauper,” “Huckleberry Finn” and “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.”
At 8 p.m. today in Waco Hall, Hal Holbrook will perform his long-running one man show, “Mark Twain Tonight!” which highlights many of Twain’s works in a unique way.
Holbrook has been performing the show since 1954 and was nominated for an Emmy Award for the performance when it aired on CBS in 1967. Holbrook said he has continued to put on the show because he respects Twain’s honesty and loves the truths he tells.
“He tells the truth. You try to find somebody who tells the truth these days, and you’re going to look a long way,” Holbrook said. “There’s nothing funny … about the truth when you look at the way people use it for their own cheap purposes. Mark Twain cuts right through all that and lays it on the line.”
Dr. Joe Fulton is a professor of English at Baylor who has studied Twain extensively and has written multiple books on his studies of Twain’s works. He has played an active role in getting Holbrook onto Baylor’s campus, motivated by his passion for Twain.
“For me, it’s really like bringing Mark Twain to campus,” Fulton said. “It’s very exciting to be a part of it.”
Local physician, Dr. Scott Livesay, was also instrumental in getting Holbrook to perform at Baylor. Livesay has known Holbrook for a few years and has wanted him to perform at Baylor because of the impact the performance could have on many people in diverse major fields.
“There’s historical value to [this show]. There’s dramatic value to it; there’s political science value to it,” Livesay said. “Mark Twain was such an American character that was so interesting to our culture during the late 1800s that [Holbrook] just feels like that is a story that needs to be told.”
Holbrook has immersed himself in Twain’s works for over 70 years and has a gotten to a point where he basically becomes a reincarnation of Twain on stage, and it gives audiences some insight into who Twain was.
“One of the reasons I think it’s really important to attend Hal Holbrook’s show is because you really experience Twain the way that Twain’s contemporaries experienced him,” Fulton said. “Twain was known as a showman at least as much as a novelist. Performance was at the heart of what he did.”
“Mark Twain Tonight!” will make for an interesting alternative to a regular stage play or even something on television.
“The students who are attending “Mark Twain [Tonight!]” are not going to see something like this on television,” Holbrook said.
Tickets will be available in the Bill Daniel Student Center today and at the ticket office in Waco Hall beginning at 7 p.m. They are also available online at ev.12.evenue.net or by calling (254) 710-3210. Tickets range from $10-$50 depending on the seats.