Mark Twain and Mr. Clemens performances are January 21st at 7:30 p.m. and January 22 at 2 p.m. at the Tater Patch Theater, 95 Philadelphia Lane. Tickets are Adults $18, Seniors $16, Students $14. For more information or to buy tickets, taterpatchplayers.org.
Pickens audiences will have a unique chance to see the legendary Mark Twain and Twain alter-ego Samuel Clemens on stage January 21st and January 22nd courtesy of re-enactor Kurt Sutton.
Sutton was born in Mannheim, Germany, immigrating to the United States in 1950. He grew up in Canton and has numerous family connections in the Ball Ground and Price Creek area.
He has performed as a business speaker, musician and entertainer for 30 years. He says the Twain role suits him plus he happens to look like Twain with the hair. He has been told even out-of-costume that he resembles the famous humorist/author.
“I am well-suited for the role,” Sutton said. “I don’t do a lot of what you would call acting. I am attuned to Twain’s material and it makes sense to me.”
Sutton created the material for the play with a combination of direct quotes from Twain and connecting sections filled in with his own writing based on what Twain might have said.
Touring writers like Twain, Will Rogers and Charles Dickens were stars who not only sold books but packed houses to deliver lectures.
Twain’s talks, like his writing, were particularly humorous, leading Sutton to call him the first stand-up comic. However, the comedy is not the easy slapstick of today.
“It’s witty,” said Sutton. “You have to listen. The play is for mature, adult audiences and fairly intellectual. If you don’t listen closely, you won’t get it.”
Mixed into the evening are songs from the Twain era performed by Sutton on different instruments. And when’s playing these he is representing Samuel Clemens (the real name of Mark Twain). Clemens was known as a fine musician, performing mainly for friends and family.
Sutton didn’t immediately find a connection with the author of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, saying he studied the American writer in school as a requirement with no great epiphany. But he was inspired as an adult by the ability of Twain to do so many things - writing, speaking, music, inventing and do them all well. “Today people are just sitting looking at their iPhones and that irritates me, so much talent that isn’t being used,” he said.
Sutton was inspired to bring his version of Twain to the stage after seeing Hal Holbrook, “the quintessential Mark Twain” perform his one-man show.
His wife actually bought him the white suit the author is always presented in following the Holbrook show.
“It hung in the closet for 15 years,” he said. “Luckily she bought it two sizes too big.”