Writing Programs

Playwright in Residence

2015 Playwright in Residence

Noah Altshuler

The Mark Twain House & Museum named Noah Altshuler its Playwright-in-Residence in 2015. Then seventeen-years-old, Noah began working on Mark Twain’s timeless classic, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, for the stage, with an eye towards Broadway. He was profiled in The New Yorker in 2015.

Born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Altshuler, a graduate of Groton School, focuses much of his creative work on the exploration of adolescent male gender roles in society. His 2014 play Making the Move, which premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (where Altshuler was the youngest playwright selected to present a new work), offered a sensitive and comic view of the social pressures faced by young men when encountering romance and rejection. The play is a runaway success having been licensed by more than fifty schools in twenty-one states across the USA. Altshuler will return to Edinburgh this August with Last Call for Providence, a much-anticipated sequel to Making the Move.

Mark Twain House Executive Director Cindy Lovell said, “At the age of 17, a young Samuel Clemens, later known as Mark Twain, set out from Hannibal, Missouri to find his destiny. It is with great excitement and anticipation that we support another 17 year-old writer on a similar journey. Noah Altshuler is an exceptional choice to reexamine and adapt The Adventures of Tom Sawyer for the stage. I look forward to hearing about his adventures as he develops his play of this American classic.”

Hal Holbrook, the Emmy and Tony Award-winning actor who has performed his one-man show “Mark Twain Tonight!” for more than 60 years, has long served as an advisor to the Mark Twain House. Upon hearing the announcement Holbrook stated, “This is exciting. I think Mark Twain would be mightily pleased to find that his Hartford Home is sponsoring a playwright-in-residence program and that the first playwright chosen to get it started is a young man as tall as Abe Lincoln. Noah Altshuler has already proved himself at the Edinburgh Festival where a play of his was produced. The creative sparks will be lighting up again at 351 Farmington Avenue.”

New York Times Best Selling Author, Michael Thompson (Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys), whose writing specializes on male gender roles in American culture, also commented: “The Twain Museum has made an inspired choice by picking the dynamic and creative Noah Altshuler to be their playwright-in-residence and to adapt Tom Sawyer for this generation. He has a special gift for translating the experience of adolescent boys into words. I cannot wait to hear his take.”

As The Mark Twain House & Museum Playwright-in-Residence, Altshuler has been given unparalleled access to many of the scholarly assets of the National Historic Landmark home in Hartford where Mark Twain lived during the period he wrote and published The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Altshuler also will spend time at The Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum in Hannibal, MO, the site on the banks of the Mississippi that inspired many of these autobiographical adventures. In addition, the playwright will travel to Twain’s summer getaway (and final resting place), Elmira, NY to work in the hills where Twain wrote much of the original Tom Sawyer manuscript.

Altshuler’s play will be adapted primarily from the well-known and much-beloved The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, but it will also include plot elements drawn from lesser-known works in the canon, including Tom Sawyer Abroad (1894), and Tom Sawyer, Detective (1896).

Strong writing appears to be a family trait as Altshuler’s grandfather is O’Henry Prize winner and National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize finalist, Frederick Buechner.