1st Edition Illustrations of Huck Finn

Monday, November 30, 2009

Happy 174th Birthday, Mark Twain


Samuel Langhorne Clemensa.k.a. Mark Twain, was born on this day in 1835.

Arguably America's greatest writer and certainly the finest from Missouri, Twain grew up in Hannibal. But did you know his birthplace was the even tinier town ofFlorida, Missouri?

In 2000, the Census recorded just 9 residents living in Florida -- a significant decline since Twain's birth in the mid-1800s.

Wrote Twain of his birthplace:
"The village contained a hundred people and I increased the population by 1 per cent. It is more than many of the best men in history could have done for a town."

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sinner Man

Here is the Nina Simone version of Run Sinner Man:

A Choir Version:

Chosen for the feeling evoked from the dance to Sinner Man. The 2nd and 3rd pieces have some interesting characteristics for churchgoers.

This video is interesting for the way they move together in order to simulate water as well as how they use sheets of fabric:

This final version has a more modern feel while still with the church- it's kinda a call and response:
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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Marx Brothers

Clip from "Duck Soup" Physical comedy is always the funniest. A simple hat trick, and a leg up made us all laugh hysterically today in rehearsal.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"Shaped-Note" Singing or "Fasola" Singing

During yesterday's meeting we touched briefly on music. We spoke about O Brother Where Art Thou and the influence music held over that movie. I couldn't help but be reminded of a piece I sang 3 years ago in choir entitled, "David's Lamentation" by William Billings. The piece featured a style of singing called "shape note" singing.

"Shape note" singing is a style which stems from the deep colonial south. The style is based on a way of composing music. In it, notes are given a different shape based on where they are located on the scale. Here is an example:
The style was developed as a way for music students to learn to read music more easily. Although this is often confusing for people who already know how to read music, studies have shown that the form actually does work. (McGill, Lynn D. 1968. A Study of Shape-Note Music as a Resource and as a System of Teaching Music. M.A. thesis, University of Tennessee at Knoxville.)

The piece Idumea is a traditional piece for members of the Sacred Harp Singers to participate in. I say participate, because most of the events today are not in fact performances, but what they call "singings" in which members sit in a square, and each member is invited to take a turn choosing a song and leading the choir. These singings can last anywhere from an hour to all day. In colonial times, these songs would have been sung in singing schools with the express use being to teach members of the community to read music and sing.

You may have heard Shape-Note singing before in the movie Cold Mountain.
Here is the piece shown above:

Here is another piece from the a congregation in Michigan, in which you see that the congregation has been centered around the preacher, and are all pumping their arms up and down to keep time. The piece is sung with enthusiasm and in the traditional square assembly.

For more information, please visit http://fasola.org/, hosted by the Sacred Harp Musical Heritage Association.

or look for the movie which was released this year:

and to hear the piece I sang with my choir click here.
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Monday, September 14, 2009

Meet Our Devising Group!

Directed Of Course by the Wonderful Margaret Larlham

Actors Devising (THEA 329A) :
Nathan Bell
DeAndre Clay
Tyler Hastings
Danielle Lazarakis
Megan Stogner
John Smith
Clarissa Thibeaux

Music Composition: Thomas Hodges
Dramaturgy: Alicia-Marie Hutchinson
Scripting Assistant: Ace Nevarez

*The first meeting will be held on Tuesday @5:00 pm. Please check back here or on the Theatre Notice Board tomorrow for the location, and bring your schedules so we can figure out the best meeting times.

There were so many talented people to chose from, it was a hard decision, but here it is! Thank you to everyone who auditioned!

Also PLEASE NOTE that additional roles will be cast at Spring 2010 General Auditions.
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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Fall 2009 Callbacks

Callbacks will be on Thursday (9/9/09) at 5:00 pm in the Don Powell Theater.

Jen Abundez

Nathan Bell

DeAndre Clay

Sammie Davis

Rachel Dexter

Krista Feallock

Jeaneal Gunning

Tyler Hastings

Ryan Heath

Kevin Koppman-Gue

Danielle Lazerakis

Hannah Ledyard

Guy Robbins

Bradley Sattler

John Smith

Megan Stogner

Clarissa Thibeaux

Michael Tutino

Ed Rodriguez

* NOTE: Even if your name does not appear on this list, you may be included in the final Callback after Spring 2010 Generals.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Suggested Reading List

Suggested By The Mark Twain House & Museum

Nook Farm: Mark Twain's Hartford Circle.
Andrews, Kenneth R.
Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1950

Mr. Clemens a Mark Twain: A Biography.
Kaplan, Justin.
New York: Simon & Schuster, 1966.

The Mark Twain Encyclopedia.
Lemaster, J. R. and James D. Wilson, ed.
New York: Garland Publishing, 1993.

Susy and Mark Twain Family Dialogues.
Salsbury, Edith, ed.
New York: Amereon House, 1965.

The Quotable Mark Twain: His Essential Aphorisms, Witticisms, & Concise Opinions
Rasmussen, R. Kent
Chicago: Contemporary Suggested Reading List, 1997.

Mark Twain A to Z.
Rasmussen, R. Kent.
New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Mark Twain's Letters 5 vols.
The Mark Twain Papers.
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.

Mark Twain's Own Autobiography: The Chapters from the North American Review.
Twain, Mark.
Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1990.
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Monday, July 6, 2009

Mark Twain's Immediate Family Tree

source: The Mark Twain House and Museum
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Biography of Mark Twain aka Samuiel Clemens

Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain

As his literature provides insight into the past, the events of his personal life further demonstrate his role as an eyewitness to history. During his lifetime, Sam watched a young United States evolve from a nation torn apart by internal conflicts to one of international power. He experienced the country's vast growth and change - from westward expansion to industrialization, the end of slavery, advancements in technology, big government and foreign wars. And along the way, he often had something to say about the changes happening in America.

Samuel Clemens was born on November 30, 1835 in Florida, Missouri, the sixth of seven children. At the age of four, Sam and his family moved to the small frontier town of Hannibal, Missouri on the banks of the Mississippi River. Missouri, at the time, was a fairly new state (it had gained statehood in 1820) and comprised part of the country's western border. It was also a slave state. Sam's father owned one slave and his uncle owned several. In fact, it was on his uncle's farm that Sam spent many boyhood summers playing in the slave quarters, listening to tall tales and the slave spirituals that he would enjoy throughout his life.

In 1847, when Sam was 11, his father died. Shortly thereafter he left school, having completed the fifth grade, to work as a printer's apprentice for a local newspaper. His job was to arrange the type for each of the newspaper's stories, allowing Sam to read the news of the world while completing his work.

At 18, Sam headed east to New York City and Philadelphia where he worked on several different newspapers and found some success at writing articles. By 1857, he had returned home to embark on a new career as a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River. With the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, however, all traffic along the river came to a halt, as did Sam's pilot career. Inspired by the times, Sam joined a volunteer Confederate unit called the Marion Rangers, but he quit after just two weeks.

In search of a new career, Sam headed west in July of 1861, at the invitation of his brother, Orion, who had just been appointed Secretary of the Nevada Territory. Lured by the infectious hope of striking it rich in Nevada's silver rush, Sam traveled across the open frontier from Missouri to Nevada by stagecoach. Along the journey Sam encountered Native American tribes for the first time as well as a variety of unique characters, mishaps and disappointments. These events would find a way into his short stories and books, particularly Roughing It.

After failing as a silver prospector, Sam began writing for the Territorial Enterprise, a Virginia City, Nevada newspaper where he used, for the first time, his pen name, Mark Twain. Wanting a change by 1864, Sam headed for San Francisco where he continued to write for local papers.

In 1865, Sam's first "big break" came with the publication of his short story, "Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog" in papers across the country. A year later, Sam was hired by the Sacramento Union to visit and report on the Sandwich Islands (now Hawaii). His writings were so popular that, upon his return, he embarked upon his first lecture tour, which established him as a successful stage performer.

Hired by the Alta California to continue his travel writing from the east, Sam arrived in New York City in 1867. He quickly signed up for a steamship tour of Europe and the Holy Land. His travel letters, full of vivid descriptions and tongue-in-cheek observations, met with such audience approval that they were later reworked into his first book, The Innocents Abroad in 1869. It was also on this trip that Clemens met his future brother-in-law, Charles Langdon. Langdon reportedly showed Sam a picture of his sister, Olivia, and Sam fell in love at first sight.

After courting for two years, Sam Clemens and Olivia (Livy) Langdon were married in 1870. They settled in Buffalo, New York where Sam had become a partner, editor and writer for the daily newspaper the Buffalo Express. While living in Buffalo, their first child, Langdon Clemens was born.

In an effort to be closer to his publisher, Sam moved his family to Hartford, Connecticut in 1871. For the first few years the Clemenses rented a house in the heart of Nook Farm, a residential area that was home to numerous writers, publishers and other prominent figures. In 1872, Sam's recollections and tall tales from his frontier adventures were published in his book, Roughing It. That same year the Clemenses' first daughter Susy was born, but their son, Langdon, died at the age of two from diphtheria.

In 1873, Sam's focus turned toward social criticism. He and Hartford Courant publisher Charles Dudley Warner co-wrote The Gilded Age, a novel that attacked political corruption, big business and the American obsession with getting rich that seemed to dominate the era. Ironically, a year after its publication, the Clemenses' elaborate, $40,000. 19-room house on Farmington Avenue was completed.

For the next 17 years (1874-1891), Sam, Livy and their three daughters (Clara was born in 1874 and Jean in 1880) lived in the Hartford home. During those years Sam completed some of his most famous works. Novels such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and Life on the Mississippi (1883) captured both his Missouri memories and depictions of the American scene. Yet, his social commentary continued. The Prince and the Pauper (1881) explored class relations as does A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889) which, going a step further, criticized oppression in general while examining the period's technology explosion. And, in perhaps his most famous work, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884) Clemens satirized the institution of slavery and railed against the failures of Reconstruction and the continued poor treatment of African-Americans overall.

Huckleberry Finn was also the first book published by Sam's own publishing company, The Charles L. Webster Company. In an attempt to gain control over publication as well as to make substantial profits, Sam created the publishing company in 1884. A year later, he contracted with Ulysses S. Grant to publish Grant's memoirs; the two-volume set provided large royalties for Grant's widow and was a financial success for the publisher as well.

Although Sam enjoyed financial success during his Hartford years, he continually made bad investments in new inventions, which eventually brought him to bankruptcy. In an effort to economize and pay back his debts, Sam and Livy moved their family to Europe in 1891. When his publishing company failed in 1894, Sam was forced to set out on a worldwide lecture tour to earn money. In 1896, tragedy struck when Susy Clemens, at the age of 24, died from meningitis while on a visit to the Hartford home. Unable to return to the place of her death, the Clemenses never returned to Hartford to live.

From 1891 until 1900, Sam and his family traveled throughout the world. During those years, Sam witnessed the increasing exploitation of weaker governments by European powers, which he described in his book, Following the Equator (1897). The Boer War in South Africa and the Boxer Rebellion in China fueled his growing anger toward imperialistic countries and their actions. With the Spanish-American and Philippine War in 1898, Sam's wrath was redirected toward the American government. When he returned to the United States in 1900, his finances restored, Sam readily declared himself an anti-imperialist and, from 1901 until his death, served as the vice president of the Anti-Imperialist League.

In these later years, Sam's writings turned dark. They began to focus on human greed, cruelty and questioned the humanity of the human race. His public appearances followed suit and included a harshly sardonic public introduction of Winston Churchill in 1900. Even though Sam's lecture tour had managed to get him out of debt, his anti-government writings and speeches threatened his livelihood once again. Labeled by some as a traitor, several of Sam's works were never published during his lifetime either because magazines would not accept them or because of a personal fear that his marketable reputation would be ruined.

In 1903, after living in New York City for three years, Livy became ill and Sam and his wife returned to Italy where she died a year later. After her death, Sam lived in New York until 1908 when he moved into his last house, "Stormfield", in Redding, Connecticut. In 1909, his middle daughter Clara was married. In the same year Jean, the youngest daughter, died from an epileptic seizure. Four months later on April 21, 1910, Sam Clemens died at the age of 74.

Like any good journalist, Sam Clemens/Mark Twain spent his life observing and reporting on his surroundings. In his writings he provided images of the romantic, the real, the strengths and weaknesses of a rapidly changing world. By examining his life and his works, we can read into the past - piecing together various events of the era and the responses to them. We can delve into the American mindset of the late nineteenth century and make our own observations of history, discover new connections, create new inferences and gain better insights into the time period and the people who lived in it. As Sam once wrote, "Supposing is good, but finding out is better."

From the Mark Twain House and Museum
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Claymation Adventures

Clips from the 1985 claymation movie entitled "The Adventures of Mark Twain.

The first clip is very creepy, and the entire production was banned from TV.

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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Read 4 Free


These works have been downloaded from sites across the web. I have only been able to set them up for download, however if you cannot download them and need the url from whihc I found them please contact me and I will send you the site information as soon as possible.


*The copyright laws on all works have expired.
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"Modern Man" Performed by George Carlin

Video from The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on November 10, 2008, a 90-minute presentation of the Mark Twain Prize honoring George Carlin.

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Welcome to the blog dedicated to the SDSU Theatre Departments involvement in Mark Twain's Centenary Tribute. If you haven't heard, San Diego State University is participating in a year long event dedicated to Mark Twain and all of his accomplishments. The SDSU Theatre and Library Departments will be hosting a play written by Margaret Larlham for the Theatre of Youth. The production will be presented as part of the annual Theatre of the World Festival in 2010.

If you are new to Margaret's process then you may not know that the play has yet to be written. Over the coming months we will be exploring what it was to live in the times of Mark Twain, both within and without his adventurous stories. Only once we have discovered the beauty and truth of the subject, will Margaret sit down and write a story which will be presented for the students, adults and children alike throughout San Diego.

Throughout this process please feel free to follow the blog, leave comments with your views on the subject and email me any info you think is missing or want to learn more about at marie@mariecoffey.com

The play will be performed March 12, 13, 18 at 8pm; March 17, 19 at 10am; March 20 at 4pm; March 14, 21 at 2pm.
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Fiction By Mark Twain

  • A Burlesque Autobiography (1871)
  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889)
  • A Double Barrelled Detective Story (1902)
  • A Murder, A Mystery, A Marriage [1945] (2001)
  • Adam's Diary (1893)
  • Edmund Burke on Croker and Tammany (1901)
  • Eve's Diary (1905)
  • First Romance (1871)
  • Is He Dead? (1898)
  • King Leopold's Soliloquy (1905)
  • Merry Tales (1892)
  • My Late Senatorial Secretaryship (1868)
  • Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, by the Sieur Louis de Conte (1896)
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876)
  • The American Claimant (1892)
  • The Battle Hymn of the Republic, Updated (1901)
  • The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County (1867)
  • The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today (1873) Co-Authored by Charles Dudley Warner
  • The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg (1900)
  • The Mysterious Stranger (unfinished)
  • The Prince and The Pauper (1881)
  • The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894)
  • Tom Sawyer Abroad (1894)
  • Tom Sawyer, Detective (1896)

Non-Fiction By Mark Twain

  • Following The Equator (1897)
  • Life on The Mississippi (1883)
  • Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant (1885)
  • Roughing It (1872)
  • The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County (1865)
  • The Innocents Abroad or The New Pilgrims' Progress (1869)

Mark Twain’s Centenary Tribune Copyright © 2009 WoodMag is Designed by Ipietoon for Free Blogger Template