Events & Programs

A Rich Selection of Activities for Young and Old and In Between

Mark Twain loved a good circus, and so do we. So we are proud to present a rich array of events that range from the "Trouble Begins at 5:30" lecture series, to the "Tapping into Twain" Oktoberfest, to the many family activities such as Tom Sawyer Day and the Ice Cream Social, to our spooky Graveyard Shift ghost tours, to our Mark My Words event and other appearances by major authors – and much, much more. So have a look through the year ahead by clicking on the tabs below.

Apr

April


CLUE Tours! - April Fools Edition!

Wednesday, April 1, Tours step off every 15 minutes beginning at 7 p.m. Reservations required.

Who killed that varmint Pap Finn??? Play our live-action version of the classic game CLUE in the Mark Twain House. Was it Becky Thatcher with the revolver in the Conservatory? The Prince (or was it the Pauper?) with the knife in the library? This hour long tour features SEA TEA IMPROV as Twain's beloved characters/suspects and all the murder, mayhem and merriment one would expect from Sam Clemens!

Featured on the Travel Channel show "Wackiest Tours!"ť

ONE NIGHT ONLY! Tours step off every 15 minutes. Reservations required.

$22 with discounts available for members and children. Please call (860) 280-3130 for more information & ticketing. or click here.

BOOK/MARK: “A Kim Jong-Il Production: The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress, and a Young Dictator's Rise to Power” with author Paul Fischer

Wednesday, April 1, 7:00 p.m.

Before becoming the world's most notorious dictator, Kim Jong-Il ran North Korea's Ministry for Propaganda and its film studios. Conceiving every movie made, he acted as producer and screenwriter. Despite this control, he was underwhelmed by the available talent and took drastic steps, ordering the kidnapping of Choi Eun-Hee (Madam Choi)--South Korea's most famous actress--and her ex-husband Shin Sang-Ok, the country's most famous filmmaker.

Madam Choi vanished first. When Shin went to Hong Kong to investigate, he was attacked and woke up wrapped in plastic sheeting aboard a ship bound for North Korea. Madam Choi lived in isolated luxury, allowed only to attend the Dear Leader's dinner parties. Shin, meanwhile, tried to escape, was sent to prison camp, and "re-educated." After four years he cracked, pledging loyalty. Reunited with Choi at the first party he attends, it is announced that the couple will remarry and act as the Dear Leader's film advisors. Together they made seven films, in the process gaining Kim Jong-Il's trust. While pretending to research a film in Vienna, they flee to the U.S. embassy and are swept to safety.

A nonfiction thriller packed with tension, passion, and politics, author Paul Fischer's A Kim Jong-Il Production offers a rare glimpse into a secretive world, illuminating a fascinating chapter of North Korea's history that helps explain how it became the hermetically sealed, intensely stage-managed country it remains today.

This is a free BOOK/MARK event. Reservations are recommended. Please call (860) 280-3130 or click here.

BOOK/MARK -- "Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won't Go Away" with author Rebecca Goldstein

Thursday, April 2, 7:00 p.m.

Is philosophy obsolete? Are the ancient questions still relevant in the age of cosmology and neuroscience, not to mention crowd-sourcing and cable news? The acclaimed philosopher and novelist Rebecca Newberger Goldstein provides a dazzlingly original plunge into the drama of philosophy, revealing its hidden role in today’s debates on religion, morality, politics, and science.
 
At the origin of Western philosophy stands Plato, who got about as much wrong as one would expect from a thinker who lived 2,400 years ago. But Plato’s role in shaping philosophy was pivotal. On her way to considering the place of philosophy in our ongoing intellectual life, Goldstein tells a new story of its origin, re-envisioning the extraordinary culture that produced the man who produced philosophy.
 
But it is primarily the fate of philosophy that concerns her. Is the discipline no more than a way of biding our time until the scientists arrive on the scene? Have they already arrived? Does philosophy itself ever make progress? And if it does, why is so ancient a figure as Plato of any continuing relevance? Plato at the Googleplex is Goldstein’s startling investigation of these conundra. She interweaves her narrative with Plato’s own choice for bringing ideas to life—the dialogue.
 
Imagine that Plato came to life in the twenty-first century and embarked on a multicity speaking tour. How would he handle the host of a cable news program who denies there can be morality without religion?  How would he mediate a debate between a Freudian psychoanalyst and a tiger mom on how to raise the perfect child? How would he answer a neuroscientist who, about to scan Plato’s brain, argues that science has definitively answered the questions of free will and moral agency? What would Plato make of Google, and of the idea that knowledge can be crowd-sourced rather than reasoned out by experts? With a philosopher’s depth and a novelist’s imagination and wit, Goldstein probes the deepest issues confronting us by allowing us to eavesdrop on Plato as he takes on the modern world.

This is a free BOOK/MARK event. Reservations are recommended. Please call (860) 280-3130 or click here.

"A Year Without God" with Ryan Bell

Tuesday, April 7, 7:00 p.m. Co-sponsored with Yale Humanist group

Note the date is April 7, not April 6 as had been communicated previously.

Ryan Bell is a former Seventh-day Adventist pastor who chose to spend 2014 living as an atheist.  He chronicled those 12 months on his blog Year Without God, and at the end of the year, announced in an interview with NPR that he no longer believes in God.

He will discuss with Jacques Lamarre, Director of Communications and Programs at the Mark Twain House, this year of change in a program sure to be both challenging and fascinating.

Ryan Bell was a pastor for 19 years, most recently the senior pastor of the Hollywood Seventh-day Adventist Church. In March 2013 he resigned his position due to theological and practical differences. As an adjunct professor he has taught subjects ranging from intercultural communication to bioethics. Currently he is a researcher, writer and speaker on the topic of religion and irreligion in America. In January 2014, Ryan began a yearlong journey exploring the limits of theism and the atheist landscape in the United States and blogs about that experience here at Year Without God. He received a Master of Divinity degree from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan and a Doctor of Ministry in Missional Leadership from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.

 

Suggested donation: $10. Please call (860) 280-3130 or click here.

The Trouble Begins at 5:30: A New Mark Twain Sweetheart

Wednesday, April 8, 5:00 p.m. wine and hors d\'oeuvres reception; 5:30 p.m. talk

Kevin Mac Donnell, the renowned independent scholar and collector of Mark Twain, who tends to produce a Twain blockbuster about once a year, unveils 2015’s – a new girlfriend for Mark Twain. Mac Donnell has uncovered documentation that makes it clear that he once had an infatuation – well after the girl he later turned into “Becky Thatcher” and well before his beloved wife Livy – that can be shown to have had a tremendous impact on his life and creativity.

"The Trouble Begins at 5:30" is The Mark Twain House & Museum's popular after-work lecture series on Twainian subjects, held on the second Wednesday of every month other than January and August. The series has offered good food and drink, good conversation and intriguing talks since 2010. It takes its name from Twain's own lecture posters, which were headed "The Trouble Begins at Eight." 


The series is supported by Connecticut Explored magazine, Hot Tomato's restaurant. Big Dollar Liquors of Bristol and The Friends of The Mark Twain House & Museum. ASL signing for the lectures is provided courtesy of students of the Interpreting 1 Class in Northwestern Connecticut Community College's Interpreter Preparation Program.  

$5.00 suggested donation. Reservations are recommended. Please call 860-280-3130 or click here.

The MOuTH: “Thrown for a Loop" –Stories with Twists and Turns

Friday, April 10, 7:30 p.m.

This month's theme is inspired by the Wadsworth Atheneum's current exhibition on Coney Island. Come hear and tell stories on the theme Thrown For A Loop: Stories With Twists and Turns at The Mark Twain House & Museum's wildly popular storytelling series, The MOuTH, with WNPR radio personality Chion Wolf.  

Special guest will be artist Lynn H. Butler, who will reveal the stories behind her captivating Coney Island photographs on display at the Wadsworth Atheneum.

The event is in no way a competition, just storytelling in front of friends in a museum dedicated to Mark Twain, one of our country's best storytellers.

Submissions are now open. Here's how it works: Email HartfordMouth@gmail.com with your name, approximate story length of LESS THAN 10 MINUTES (note - it usually takes longer to tell your story than you think! Tell it a few times to friends, refine it, and time it!), and a short description of what your story is about.

Wolf, along with Jacques Lamarre of the Mark Twain House, will look over the submissions and assemble a lineup. "If you don't get on the list, don't take it personally!" says Wolf. "It's our loss, and hopefully we can hear from you at a future 'Mouth' event."

There will also be a "Wild Card": Those wanting to tell a short story can put their names in a hat when they arrive, and at some point, a name will be picked. Audio of the event will be recorded.

Chion Wolf, a noted photographer and voice perfomer, joined Colin McEnroe and producer Patrick Skahill to complete the trifecta that has become The Colin McEnroe Show on WNPR as the show's announcer and sometimes-sidekick. She can be heard during station breaks many days of the week.

$5.00; to reserve, call 860-280-3130 or here. (Storytellers chosen for the lineup get in free.)

Volunteer Recruitment Open House

Monday, April 13, 10:00 a.m.

Pitch In!

Join our sterling group of volunteers! The Mark Twain house is currently looking for volunteers to help in various capacities within the museum. If you are looking for a challenging and engaging volunteer opportunity, The Mark Twain House & Museum might be the perfect match for you.

We are always looking for volunteers and interns with the following skills:

• Graphic design
• Videography and editing
• Record-keeping/filing
• Customer service
• Organizational skills

We're having an open house for potential volunteers on April 13 at 10:00 a.m. Stop by and learn more.

Save the date! More details to follow.

Documentary Film Screening - "88 Days in the Motherlode: Mark Twain Finds His Voice"

Thursday, April 16, 7:00 p.m.

TCHS and This and That films proudly announce the release of the exciting new documentary: 88 Days in The Mother Lode: Mark Twain Finds His Voice. This film focuses on a previously under studied and publicized aspect of the Twain Story; that the nearly three months spent in Tuolumne and Calaveras Counties in the winter of 1864-1865 were crucial for his transformation from Sam Clemens to Mark Twain.

Well known Twain experts are interviewed in the documentary and reenactments were filmed on location in Calaveras and Tuolumne Counties, with local actors. This beautiful and compelling film makes a valuable contribution to the Twain story. Those with a casual interest in local history as well as serious students will find value in this production.

The film makers will be present at this screening.

$5.00 suggested donation. Please make reservations by calling (860) 280-3130 or click here.

4th Annual Writers' Weekend!

Friday, April 17, through Sunday, April 19

dThe 4th Annual Writers' Weekend at The Mark Twain House & Museum will run from April 17 to 19. The weekend costs $170, and will include lectures, workshops, panels, readings, receptions, and book signings featuring exemplary writers from all over the United States.  (Single day tickets are also available.)

The 2015 Keynote Speaker is Dani Shapiro, author of the bestselling memoirs Devotion and Slow Motion, as well as five novels, and the recent Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life,  a look at the exhilarating and challenging process of writing. The event will also include a conversation featuring the very popular podcast Books on the Nightstand.  Plus there will be a Playwriting Panel featuring noted film director, screenwriter and playwright Neil LaBute.

Events will begin with the Books on the Nightstand podcast conversation at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, and programs will continue on Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m with the Dani Shapiro keynote address that evening, and on Sunday, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. 

Participants may register for the entire weekend, single days, or single keynote events (Dani Shapiro, Books on the Nightstand, and Playwriting Panel). Prices range from $25 for the panel to $170 for the weekend. 

The Playwriting Panel takes place on Saturday at 4pm.

Dani Shapiro's most recent books include Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life, the novels Black & White and Family History and the bestselling memoir Slow Motion. Her short stories and essays have appeared in the New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, Elle, Vogue, Ploughshares, and O, The Oprah Magazine, among other publications. She lives with her husband and son in Litchfield County, Connecticut. 

Books on the Nightstand strives to bring listeners great book recommendations, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at the world of books, bookstores and publishing. They do this through their weekly podcast and frequent blog posts. Michael Kindness and Ann Kingman are friends and colleagues who work in the publishing industry. That means that they talk about books all day long to other people who love to talk about books. But sometimes, those conversations have to end before they're ready to stop talking. Thus, the podcast and blog.  

Combining intriguing moral and ethical metaphors with dark portraits of the underside of American life, playwright, screenwriter and director Neil LaBute became one of the most controversial new filmmakers to emerge in the 1990s, offering a perspective that was intelligent and possessing a brutally clear focus. In 2013, he won a literary honor from the Academy of Arts & Letters. His films include In The Company Of Men, and Your Friends and Neighbors. Some of his many plays are reasons to be pretty, Fat Pig, The Shape of Things, and his latest reasons to be happy.

Workshops throughout the weekend will focus on both the craft and publishing aspects of writing, with many and varied instructors. There will be workshops on various aspects ofPoetry with Antoinette Brim, John Stanizzi, Vivian Shipley, Edwina Trentham, Christine Beck, and Leslie McGrath.  Also various aspects ofFiction with Mary Sharnick, David Handler, Leslie Johnson, Mark Ferguson, Lucy Ferriss, and various aspects of Non-Fiction with Susan Campbell, Christine Palm, Mary-Ann Tirone Smith, and Yeliza Renfro.

Additional workshops cover Proofreading with Stacey DeKeyser, Social Media Writing with Caitlin Thayer and Wayne English, Self Publishing with Patrice Fitzgerald, Memoir Writing with Judy Mandel, and Dialogue with Dan Pope.

And there's still more workshops: Pitching Writing with Mike Morin, The Birth of a Book with Matthew Dicks, Mystery Writing with Susannah Hardy, Finding An Agent with Susan Schoenberger, and Oral History with Hunter Liguore. Of particular interest may be the Playwriting panel with acclaimed playwrites Neil LaBute, Christopher Shinn, and Mark St. Germain.  Plus, Je Benach will interview Terence Hawkins about his book American Neolithic.

For all questions, please contact Julia Pistell, Director of Writing Programs, at Julia.pistell@marktwainhouse.org.

All tickets can be purchased through www.marktwainhouse.org or by calling (860) 280-3130.

The complete schedule, which will be updated with more details as they are available and is subject to change, can be found here. See below for the link for reservations.

 

For reservations, please call (860) 280-3130 or click here.

BOOK/MARK: "Redeployment" with author Phil Klay

Tuesday, April 21, 7:00

POSTPONED FROM AN EARLIER DATE

Winner of the 2014 National Book Award for Fiction

National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Honoree

New York Times Bestseller

Phil Klay's Redeployment takes readers to the frontlines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, asking us to understand what happened there, and what happened to the soldiers who returned. Interwoven with themes of brutality and faith, guilt and fear, helplessness and survival, the characters in these stories struggle to make meaning out of chaos.

In “Redeployment", a soldier who has had to shoot dogs because they were eating human corpses must learn what it is like to return to domestic life in suburbia, surrounded by people "who have no idea where Fallujah is, where three members of your platoon died." In "After Action Report", a Lance Corporal seeks expiation for a killing he didn't commit, in order that his best friend will be unburdened. A Morturary Affairs Marine tells about his experiences collecting remains—of U.S. and Iraqi soldiers both. A chaplain sees his understanding of Christianity, and his ability to provide solace through religion, tested by the actions of a ferocious Colonel. And in the darkly comic "Money as a Weapons System", a young Foreign Service Officer is given the absurd task of helping Iraqis improve their lives by teaching them to play baseball. These stories reveal the intricate combination of monotony, bureaucracy, comradeship and violence that make up a soldier's daily life at war, and the isolation, remorse, and despair that can accompany a soldier's homecoming.

Redeployment is poised to become a classic in the tradition of war writing. Across nations and continents, Klay sets in devastating relief the two worlds a soldier inhabits: one of extremes and one of loss. Written with a hard-eyed realism and stunning emotional depth, this work marks Phil Klay as one of the most talented new voices of his generation.

This is a free event. Reservations are recommended. Please call (860) 280-3130 or click here.

The Adventures of Mark Twain: The Author as Social Critic - Panel Discussion Presented in Collaboration with the University of Connecticut

Wednesday, April 22, 7:00 p.m.

The Mark Twain House & Museum, in collaboration with the University of Connecticut, presents The Adventures of Mark Twain: The Author as Social Critic.

What did Mark Twain think of the Philippine-American war? How can his novel, The Gilded Age, help us understand modern political economy? And how did his 20-cigar-a-day habit help him to satirize moralists? 

Join UConn President Susan Herbst and a panel of distinguished UConn scholars of literature and history as they discuss Twain's legacy, placing his novels and penchant for satire into perspective with today's most pressing issues. 

The panel will discuss Twain's anti-imperialist ideas and how they can help us understand U.S. foreign policy; the evolution of the Washington, D.C. genre of American fiction; images of children and slavery in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; and how Twain used his own shortcomings to satirize himself and others.

Panelists include UConn professors of English Anna Mae Duane and Christopher Vials, professor of history Micki McElya, and professor of history and Connecticut state historian Walter Woodward.

The event will take place on April 22 at 7:00 p.m. at the Webster Bank Museum Center at The Mark Twain House & Museum. It will be followed by a dessert and coffee reception. 

This is a free event.  Reservations are recommended.  Please call (860) 280-3130, or visit MarkTwainHouse.org and click on Events.

Micki McElya is Associate Professor of History at the University of Connecticut. She specializes in the histories of women, gender, and racial formation in the United States from the Civil War to the present, with an emphasis on political culture and memory. She is author of Clinging to Mammy: The Faithful Slave in Twentieth-Century America(2007), winner of an Outstanding Book Award from the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights. Her work has also appeared in American Quarterly, Radical History Review, and the Journal of American Studies. She is currently completing two book projects, Grave Affairs: Arlington National Cemetery and the Politics of Bodies and Honor and Liberating Beauty: Feminism, the Civil Rights Movement, and Miss America. McElya received her BA in History from Bryn Mawr College and her MA and PhD in History from New York University.

Anna Mae Duane is Associate Professor of English at the University of Connecticut, where she teaches classes in African American literature, Disability Studies, Childhood Studies, and early American literature. She has authored or edited several books, including Suffering Childhood in Early America: Violence, Race and the Making of the Child Victim (UGA Press 2010), The Children's Table: Childhood Studies and the Humanities (UGA Press, 2013) and Strange Place Blues: An Argument for a Child--Centered Slavery Studies (forthcoming, Cambridge UP). Her essays have appeared in American Literature, the Cambridge History of the American Novel, Studies in American Fiction, and the Norton critical edition of Charlotte Temple. Her work has been supported by two National Endowment for the Humanities awards and a Fulbright Award. She currently co-edits with Connecticut State Historian Walter Woodward Common-place, the Interactive Journal of Early American Life, the American Antiquarian Society's online journal. She received her BA, MA, and PhD in English from Fordham University.

Christopher Vials is Associate Professor of English at the University of Connecticut, where he will soon be serving as the Director of American Studies.  He is the author of the books Haunted by Hitler: Liberals, the Left, and the Fight against Fascism in the United States (2014) and Realism for the Masses: Aesthetics, Popular Front Pluralism, and U.S. Culture, 1935-1947 (2009).  His articles have appeared in Science and Society,Philip Roth Studies, and Americana:

the Journal of American Popular Culture, and several other books and journals. He is currently at work on a collection with Cambridge University Press on American literature and culture in the 1940s, and is also beginning a project on the disavowal of U.S. military and economic projects abroad in American culture.  He received his BA in English and History from the University of Texas-Austin, his MA in English from Ohio State University, and his PhD in English and American Studies from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Walter Woodward is Associate Professor of History at the University of Connecticut (Greater Hartford campus) and Connecticut State Historian.   He is the author of Prospero's America:  John Winthrop, Jr., Alchemy, and the Creation of New England Culture, 1606-1676, which received the Homer D. Babbidge Jr. Award from the Association for the Study of Connecticut History.  He is the co-author of Teaching History with Museums: Strategies for K-12 Social Studies. With renowned photographer Carol Highsmith, he is author of the forthcoming publication Connecticut, a key installment in the Library of Congress's effort to create a photographic record of early twenty-first-century America, and is currently working on a study of the influence of rumor and distorted communication in early America.His articles and essays have appeared in such journals as the New England Quarterly, the William and Mary Quarterly, and the Organization of American Historians Magazine of History. His work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Massachusetts Historical Society.  He co-edits Common-place with Anna Mae Duane and is a columnist for Connecticut Explored, the magazine of Connecticut History.  He received his BA in English from the University of Florida, his MA in History from Cleveland State University, and his PhD in History from the University of Connecticut.  Prior to becoming a historian, Woodward was a songwriter and advertising executive, in which capacity he composed two hit country music songs, won eight advertising Clio awards, and two Emmy awards for documentary music.

This is a free event. Reservations are highly recommended. Please call (860) 280-3130 or click here.

Writing in Mark Twain's Library

Monday, April 27, 6:00 p.m.

"To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement. To condense the diffused light of a page of thought into the luminous flash of a single sentence, is worthy to rank as a prize composition just by itself...Anybody can have ideas--the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph." – Mark Twain

Sometimes, what we need to write our great novel, or even just a good page, is just a little peace and quiet. Throw in some inspiration from Hartford’s favorite author and we’d call that a successful morning. That’s why we’re introducing a new series called “Writing in Mark Twain's Library.” Sign up for a writing session in the Clemens family home: participants will have the house to yourselves. Feel inspired by the beautiful sounds of the fountain in the family conservatory; rest your eyes upon Twain’s bookshelves as you ponder your next word. You’ll spend three hours of quiet in the historic library of our very own Sam Clemens. No doubt you'll begin your own masterpiece.

This is NOT a writing course-- by popular demand, this program is uninterrupted writing time in the Twain House. A mini-residency of sorts.

ALL FUNDS FROM THIS PROGRAM go towards preserving and restoring the house.

Tickets for three quiet hours in Mark Twain's Library are $50. Please call (860) 280-3130 or click here.

The Role of Museums in Promoting Civil Engagement--A Conversation With Tatiana Kursina,Gulag Museum at Perm-36

Tuesday, April 28, 500 p.m. at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center

How do museums inspire civic engagement?

What happens when a museum is located in a contentious political environment?   Come to the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center on April 28 at 5 PM to meet Tatiana Kursina, co-founding director of the Gulag Museum at Perm-36 in Russia, to hear the challenges faced in operating a museum focused on the history of political repression in Russia.  

The event is co-presented with the Mark Twain House & Museum. The Stowe Center is a member of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, a global network of historic sites, museums, and memory initiatives connecting past struggles to today's movements for human rights and social justice. 

About the Gulag Museum at Perm-36

The only Russian museum for the history of political repression, the Gulag Museum at Perm-36 consists of extant and reconstructed buildings of the labor camp for political prisoners, who worked, suffered and died there. Its mission is to promote democratic values and civic consciousness in contemporary Russia through preservation of the last Soviet political camp as a living reminder of repression and as an important historical and cultural monument.

Kursina and her husband Victor Schmyrov, in partnership with the Moscow-based pro-democracy NGO Memorial, created the museum in 1995 at the site of a Stalinist Gulag camp near the village of Kuchino in the Ural Mountains in Russia. 

Operational from 1946 to 1987, it is the only Gulag to have been preserved and is unique in its ability to bear testimony to the extent of political repression in the Soviet Union. The Soviets established Perm-36 as a logging camp in the forested region of the Ural Mountains near the Siberian border. Here, prisoners cut down trees throughout the year and sent lumber down river during the spring thaw to help rebuild Soviet cities damaged in World War II. The camp was typical of thousands throughout the country. Throughout its history some 18 million passed through the prisons and camps of the Gulag system.

About Kursina and her Visit to the Unites States

Kursina is visiting the United States to raise awareness of the Russian government's forceful and sustained crackdown on pro-democracy and human rights organizations, recently extended to include The Gulag Museum. Due to the changing political situation in Russia and the Perm region, the memorial complex and museum have been reclaimed by local authorities essentially voiding the museum's leadership. 

Admission is free thanks to Stowe Center members and donors. Reservations: Info@StoweCenter.orgor 860.522.9258, x317.

Humor Writing with Hank Herman

Wednesday, April 29, Wednesdays from 6-8 pm April 29th - June 10 (Skipping May 13th)

A sage once said, “There’s a difference between humor writing and writing humorously.” Oh, wait — that was me. The point is, humor writing — think Woody Allen, Tina Fey, Steve Martin, where every sentence is intended to be a laugh riot — yes, that’s hard. And probably can’t be taught. But writing humorously — self-deprecating admissions about your own foibles; poking good-natured fun at irresistible targets in pop culture; exaggerating outrageously; confiding hair-raising tales of the blind date gone bad; zeroing in on off-beat behavior that nobody talks about but, it turns out, everybody does — these are all within every writer’s reach. In this course students will take their best shot at funny-side up writing in essays, columns, blogs, memoir . . . or whatever genre tickles their fancy.

Hank Herman’s acclaimed memoir, Accept My Kid, Please! A Dad’s Descent Into College Application Hell, has led to speaking engagements throughout the Northeast. His award-winning humor column, “The Home Team,” has been running for over 20 years, and is still going strong.  Hank also co-writes the Hearst Newspapers blog “Beagle Man,” alternating posts with his dog, Ricky the Beagle.  The blog doubles as as a hilarious travelogue when Hank and Ricky hit the road every September for their great adventure: a one-month-long cross-country road trip!  With no offense intended to his own three sons, Hank considers Ricky his fourth.  Hank also leads writing workshops at his alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, and at Trinity College and Norwalk Community College.

$265. Please call (86) 280-3130 or click here.

May

May


VARLA JEAN MERMAN IS “A LOUISIANA SKANKEE IN CONNECTICUT COURT”

Friday, May 8, 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, May 9 at 7:30 p.m.

The Mark Twain House & Museum is pleased to announce the return of drag chanteuse Varla Jean Merman in a new show especially created for the Museum—A Louisiana Skankee in Connecticut Court.

"Merman combines the physical presence of a buxom Russ Myer starlet with a hint of perky Doris Day and the brassiness of her spiritual mother, Ethel Merman." --Variety

Varla appeared at The Museum several years ago in the hilarious sold-out show “The Lady Behind The Mustache.”  Now the love child of Ernest Borgnine and Ethel Merman returns with this new show to delight and tickle of the fancies of (mature) audiences.

To get a hint of the hilarity in store, check out Varla’s YouTube Channel.  Just search online for “Varla YouTube”.

Varla is portrayed by actor Jeffrey Roberson.  As Varla Jean, Jeffery has filled cabarets and concert halls across the world including the Sydney Opera House, Carnegie Hall, the New York Public Theater, London’s Soho Theatre and LA’s Renberg Theatre. Jeffery wrote and starred in the short Improve Your History with Varla Jean: Stonewall, for the launch of the MTV’s television network Logo and was also seen in their One Night Standup: Dragtastic special. In addition, Jeffery starred in the musical Lucky Guy opposite Leslie Jordan in New York at the Little Schubert in spring 2011 prompting The New York Times to rave, “If Carol Burnett and Harvey Korman had stood in front of the right pair of funhouse mirrors, they might have resembled Ms. Merman and Mr. Jordan in stature as well as comedic talent”.

Adults only! Tickets are $30/$25 for MTH&M members. Please call (860) 280-3130 for tickets or more information, or click here.

Finding Your Voice in Memoir: A Writing Workshop with Judy Mandel

Saturday, May 9, 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Finding Your Voice in Memoir

Often when we start writing our memoir, we struggle to find our own unique way of telling the story—our voice. It can be as illusive as a shadow, as hard to capture as a dream. Once we find our voice, the way our writing sounds most like our inner self, our story is much easier to shape. Finding the right voice for your memoir is very much like falling in love; hard to describe but powerful.

What you will learn:
• How word choice, cadence, and sentence structure contribute to creating the mood in the world of your memoir
• Not to be afraid to experiment with different ways of writing
• How free-writing can free your inner voice
• How to think about your life in terms of meaningful scenes or vignettes
• How to examine different memoirs in terms of voice, and how to apply that to your own writing

Judy L. Mandel is a workshop leader, writing coach and editor. She is the author of REPLACEMENT CHILD – A MEMOIR (Seal Press, 2013). Judy’s essays and articles have appeared in Connecticut LIFE, ASJA Monthly, Complete Wellbeing Magazine, Connecticut Authors and Publishers Newsletter, and The Southampton Review.

$40. Register by calling 860-280-3130 or by clicking here.

The Trouble Begins at 5:30: Mark Twain's' Surrogate Wife'

Wednesday, May 13, 5:00 p.m. wine and hors d\\\'oeuvres reception; 5:30 p.m. talk

Continuing in our "Trouble Begins" series in the vein of Clemens’ relationships with women, we explore a highly controversial one.

Scholar Marie Lavendier  will speak on Isabel Lyon, Clemens’ secretary in his final years, after the death of Livy.  Lyon at one time held power of attorney for Twain and has been referred to as Mark Twain's surrogate wife – but their relationship ended in a bitter split a year before the author’s death.

Lyon was written out of his official biography.

Marie Lavendier is a lecturer at Tunxis Community College and lives in Lyon's former home in Farmington. 

"The Trouble Begins at 5:30" is The Mark Twain House & Museum's popular after-work lecture series on Twainian subjects, held on the second Wednesday of every month other than January and August. The series has offered good food and drink, good conversation and intriguing talks since 2010. It takes its name from Twain's own lecture posters, which were headed "The Trouble Begins at Eight." 


The series is supported by Connecticut Explored magazine, Hot Tomato's restaurant. Big Dollar Liquors of Bristol and The Friends of The Mark Twain House & Museum. ASL signing for the lectures is provided courtesy of students of the Interpreting 1 Class in Northwestern Connecticut Community College's Interpreter Preparation Program.  

$5.00; reserve at 860-280-3130 or click here.

Celeste Bedford Walker’s Theatrical Production BLACK WALL STREET

Friday, May 15, and Saturday, May 16 at 8:00 p.m. each evening at the Artists Collective, 1200 Albany Avenue in Hartford.

Presented by the Artists Collective and The Mark Twain House & Museum, for the 8th Annual Jackie McLean Memorial Celebration

 The Artists Collective’s eighth annual Jackie McLean Memorial Celebration, to be held May 15 - 16, 2015, will feature the historical theater production of Celeste Bedford Walker’s BLACK WALL STREET, directed by Michael Green, in collaboration with The Mark Twain House & Museum.

 BLACK WALL STREET brings to life a little-known portion of American history during the early 1900s-1920s. In the heartland of America, there was a Black community paradise. In the Greenwood section of Tulsa, Oklahoma, African Americans, Native Americans, and people of Jewish descent developed a networking relationship surpassed by none in modern day history, creating more than 600 businesses. There were 41 grocery stores, 30 restaurants, 6 privately-owned airplanes, 5 hotels, 3 schools, 1 hospital with 15 physicians/surgeons, a bank, a bus system, and 2 movie theaters.

It’s June 1, 1921- with an alleged incident involving a white female elevator operator and a Negro “shoe shine boy” which ignited the simmering resentment and jealousies of neighboring white communities. In the aftermath of the worst race riot in US history, the once thriving business district of Greenwood lay, smoldering and totally destroyed. 

Black Wall Street is produced by an award-winning creative team featuring Playwright Celeste Bedford Walker, Producer, Director Michael Green, and Executive Producer Voza Rivers. The production comes to life with a cast of award-winning actors and creative team. BLACK WALL STREET has received critical acclaim from audiences and critics alike for its successful run in New York.

Artists Collective Founding Executive Director Dollie McLean states, “Shades of Truth Theater with Voza Rivers/New Heritage Theater Group are two of America’s important vehicles for African American theater arts and artists.  We have been colleagues for many, many years through its Founder, the late Rodger Furman. They continue to produce thought-provoking, cutting-edge productions, featuring the nation’s emerging artists and themes. The little-known history of Greenwood, Tulsa, Oklahoma aka BLACK WALL STREET still resonates today nearly one hundred years later.” 

“The Artists Collective is extremely excited about collaborating with The Mark Twain House & Museum on this project. This project would not have been possible without the generous support of the Edward C. & Ann T. Roberts Foundation. We deeply appreciate the support for this production. 

The Mark Twain House & Museum’s Cindy Lovell states, “Artists Collective is an ideal partner for presenting a seldom-heard, but terribly important, chapter in our shared history.  This is our first major collaboration with the Artists Collective, Dollie McLean and her committed team. We can’t wait to bring this gripping production to Hartford.”

The performances will be held Friday, May 15 at 8:00 pm and Saturday, May 16 at 8:00 pm at the Artists Collective, located at 1200 Albany Avenue (corner of Woodland Street/Jackie McLean Way) in Hartford.  Ample free secure parking is available on-site.

The annual Jackie McLean Memorial Celebration reflects Artists Collective Founder and jazz legend Jackie McLean’s broad interest in music, art, dance, theater, literature, world history, socio-political issues and the human condition.

The Jackie McLean Memorial Celebration production of BLACK WALL STREET, in collaboration with Mark Twain House Museum, is made possible with the generous support of: The Edward C. & Ann T. Roberts Foundation with additional program support from: The State of Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, Connecticut Office of the Arts, Greater Hartford Arts Council, Bank of America, the City of Hartford, Pedro E. Segarra, Mayor, and our media partners, Northend Agent’s Newspaper, and CT NOW.

About Jackie McLean

The celebrated world-renowned alto saxophonist, composer, educator, and community activist, Jackie McLean, has been an enduring force in jazz since the early 1950s and a distinguished educator since the 1960s. His legacy continues today.  

During his lifetime, Jackie McLeangarnered numerous national and international awards including: Paris France Minister of Culture, Jack Lang Medal Officer de L’Ordre Des Arts Et Des Letters, Trinity College Honorary Doctorate, an American Jazz Master Honor from the National Endowment for the Arts, and an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Hartford (posthumous).

The African American Music Department at the Hartt School, University of Hartford, was founded by Jackie McLean in 1968 and was renamed the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz in 2000. Jackie McLean initiated the founding of the Artists Collective, Inc. in 1970. Both institutions hold an exclusive place in the world for being founded by a living jazz musician and existing for over four decades. He was actively involved with both institutions until March 2006. Mr. McLean was born May 17, 1931.

Tickets for Black Wall Street are: $25 for advanced purchase general admission; $20 advance purchase for Artists Collective and Mark Twain House & Museum members, students, seniors and GHAC Lets Go Members; and $30 at the door for all.

Tickets are available via The Mark Twain House & Museum by calling (860) 280-3130 or by clicking here or by calling the Artists Collective at (860) 527-3205. Special Group rate tickets available. Call the Artists Collective for information. 

B-Side Media Group presents "The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl" with author Issa Rae

Sunday, May 17, 7:30 p.m.

This event is a part of an installment of the B-Side series, a series of seasonal Q & A style Lectures/Events.  The first project will feature Author/Producer Issa Rae. There will be a live, unscripted panel discussion with Issa Rae, Mike O'Bryan, and UConn Professor Jelani Cobb. 

Issa Rae is a writer, producer and actress. She is the creator of the YouTube workplace-comedy series Awkward Black Girl as well as the New York Times Best Seller’s book named after the same title. She has been featured on such shows as The Nightly Show. She is also the writer of numerous online series and an upcoming HBO series. Her book--in the bestselling tradition of Sloane Crosley’s I Was Told There’d Be Cake and Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?--is a collection of humorous essays on what it’s like to be unabashedly awkward in a world that regards introverts as hapless misfits, and black as cool.

Moderator Uconn Professor Jelani Cobb is an Associate Professor of History and Director of Africana Studies Institute at the University of Connecticut and staff writer at The New Yorker.  He is the author of numerous books including his latest: The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress.

Host and Co-Moderator Mike O'Bryan was born and raised in Hartford,Connecticut, and earned his Bachelors of Music from The University of The Arts. Currently, Michael serves as Program Manager of Youth Arts Education at The Village of Arts and Humanities, and as a Project Coordinator and Sanctuary Facilitator on a collaborative initiative between The US Attorney's Office of Eastern PA and The Sanctuary Institute to bring Trauma Informed Care to the Strawberry Mansion Community of North Philadelphia. 

Tickets are $10 for the general public, and $5 for Mark Twain House members and students with an ID. Please call (860) 280-3130 or click here.

Self-Publishing with Patrice Fitzgerald

Wednesday, May 20, Wednesdays from 6 - 8 pm, May 20 - June 10.

Tired of waiting—waiting to hear from agents, editors, and publishers—as you jump through hoops hoping to get your work traditionally published?  An exciting new alternative is to dive in and publish yourself.  This course will take you through the steps for putting your writing out there NOW.  We’ll talk about editing, formatting, and choosing a cover, and conclude by actually pushing the button and publishing your story on Amazon. Ideally, participants will have a short story, novel, or other work ready to go.  If not, you can simply publish a “test book” to learn how.

Patrice Fitzgerald is a best-selling indie author, publisher, and attorney.  She began self-publishing on Independence Day in 2011.  Her ebooks and those of authors she publishes have reached the top 100 out of the millions of books sold by Amazon.

$200.

Writing From Found Texts with Yelizaveta P. Renfro

Wednesday, May 20, Wednesdays 6-8 pm, May 20 - June 10

From to-do lists to diary entries, from recipes to photographs, from PowerPoint presentations to maps, non-literary texts—or “found texts”—are often central in shaping fiction and creative nonfiction pieces. Found texts, any texts whose original purpose is in some way expanded, built upon, or transformed to take on the new purpose of creating a literary text, are ubiquitous in contemporary prose. In A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan writes a whole chapter as a PowerPoint presentation. Lorrie Moore in many of her pieces adopts the “how to” guide. Douglas Coupland inserts emails, advertising, labels, and other fragments of daily texts into his work. Laura Esquivel uses recipes to frame her novel Like Water for Chocolate. A whole anthology, Fakes: An Anthology of Pseudo-Interviews, Faux-Lectures, Quasi-Letters, "Found" Texts, and Other Fraudulent Artifacts, was published in 2012. In this workshop, we will read these and a number of other writers of fiction and nonfiction who make use of found texts in their work, and we will also explore the potential of using found texts in our own writing projects. We will engage in a series of short writing exercises working with a variety of texts, including advertisements, to-do lists, emails, recipe collections and menus, historical documents, social media texts, timelines, and diaries, examining how such texts can influence both the form and content of our work. At the culmination of the workshop writers will develop their own independent projects based on one or more found texts. 

Yelizaveta P. Renfro is the author of a collection of essays, Xylotheque, available from the University of New Mexico Press, and a collection of short stories, A Catalogue of Everything in the World, winner of the St. Lawrence Book Award. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Glimmer Train Stories, North American Review, Colorado Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, South Dakota Review, Witness, Reader’s Digest, Blue Mesa Review, Parcel, Adanna, Fourth River, Bayou Magazine, Untamed Ink, So to Speak, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from George Mason University and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Nebraska.

$200.

Fiction Writing with Melanie Faranello

Wednesday, May 20, May 20 - June 24, 6 pm - 8 pm

Fiction Writing Workshop

In this interactive workshop, we will examine various elements of fiction writing such as plot, structure, point of view, character, and dialogue. Each session will combine craft talks, in-class writing exercises, discussion of published work and student work. Participants may distribute their own story drafts to the class for constructive discussions and feedback.

Melanie P Faranello received her M.F.A. in creative writing from The New School. Her fiction has appeared in a number of literary journals and magazines and received honorable mentions such as finalist in The Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction and The Dana Awards for the Novel and winner of The New School Fiction Chapbook Award, and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She has taught writing for many years as an adjunct faculty member at various locations including University of Chicago, Roosevelt University, American Academy of Art, and as a teaching artist in the community with at-risk youth, teens, and adults. 

Register by calling 860-280-3130. $265.

BOOK/MARK - "Party Like a President" with author Brian Abrams

Wednesday, May 20, 7:30 p.m.

To further celebrate with this event, there will be liquor and spirit tastings.  Also there will be a rousing game of Presidential Trivia, and Real or Fake Laws! Plus, a few subject specific episodes ofDrunk History will be shown!

About the book:

There’s the office: President of the United States. And then there’s the man in the office—prone to temptation and looking to unwind after a long day running the country. Celebrating the decidedly less distinguished side of the nation’s leaders, humor writer Brian Abrams offers a compelling, hilarious, and true American history on the rocks—a Washington-to-Obama, vice-by-vice chronicle of how the presidents like to party.

From explicit love letters to slurred speeches to nude swims at Bing Crosby’s house, reputations are ruined and secrets bared. George Washington brokered the end of the American Revolution over glasses of Madeira. Ulysses S. Grant rarely drew a sober breath when he was leading the North to victory. And it wasn’t all liquor. Some presidents preferred their drugs—Nixon was a pill-popper. And others chased women instead—both the professorial Woodrow Wilson (who signed his love letters “Tiger”) and the good ol’ boy Bill Clinton, though neither could hold a candle to Kennedy, who also received the infamous Dr. Feelgood’s “vitamin” injections of pure amphetamine.

This book has the smart, funny feel of Madmagazine meets The Colbert Report. Plus, it includes recipes for 44 cocktails inspired by each chapter’s partier-in-chief.

Generously supported by Onyx Spirits Company. 

This is a free event. Reservations are highly recommended. Please call (860) 280-3130 or click here.

BOOK/MARK: "The SOUND OF MUSIC Story" with author Thomas Santopietro

Thursday, May 21, 7:00 p.m.

On March 2, 1965, "The Sound of Music" was released in the United States and the love affair between moviegoers and the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical was on. Rarely has a film captured the love and imagination of the moviegoing public in the way that "The Sound of Music" did as it blended history, music, Austrian location filming, heartfelt emotion and the yodeling of Julie Andrews into a monster hit.

Now, Tom Santopietro has written the ultimate "Sound of Music" fan book with all the inside dope from behind the scenes stories of the filming in Austria and Hollywood to new interviews with Johannes von Trapp and others. Santopietro looks back at the real life story of Maria von Trapp, goes on to chronicle the sensational success of the Broadway musical, and recounts the story of the near cancellation of the film when the "Cleopatra" bankrupted 20th Century Fox. We all know that Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer played Maria and Captain Von Trapp, but who else had been considered?

Tom Santopietro knows and will tell all while providing a historian's critical analysis of the careers of director Robert Wise and screenwriter Ernest Lehman, a look at the critical controversy which greeted the movie, the film's relationship to the turbulent 1960s and the super stardom which engulfed Julie Andrews. Tom Santopietro's "The Story of 'The Sound of Music'" is book for everyone who cherishes this American classic.

This is a free BOOK/MARK event and will be followed by a book sale and signing. Reservations are highly recommended. Please call (860) 280-3130 or click here.

Opening Reception for Han Dynasty Stone Rubbing Exhibition

Thursday, May 21, 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.

In collaboration with Shandong Department of Culture and Shandong Museum in China, The Mark Twain House & Museum is bringing a unique and never-before-seen collection of Han Dynasty stone rubbings to Connecticut. The exhibition will be displayed at The Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford between May 21 and August 31, 2015. The exhibition is sponsored by Industrial Defender/Lockheed Martin.

An opening reception to celebrate this exciting exhibition will take place on Thursday, May 21 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. in the Webster Bank Museum Center at The Mark Twain House & Museum.

The Han Dynasty (206 BC -­- 220 AD) was a formative period in the history of Chinese society and culture. Many of the institutions that continued to shape China all the way up to the early 20th century were established during this period. The stone rubbings are artistically crafted facsimiles of stone engravings found in tombs and on mountainsides in and around what is today Shandong province. They provide detailed and vivid descriptions of everyday, economic, religious, political and cultural life at the time.

The collection that will be presented has great historic, cultural and academic value. The complete exhibition consists of a large number of individual rubbings of various sizes, ranging from smaller pieces up to larger ones covering entire walls, all filled with vivid detail.

Mark Twain lived and worked on his books in Hartford, Connecticut, from 1871-­-1891. He and his wife, Livy, raised their family in the Hartford house, and he wrote many of his most famous works, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, during the time he lived in the house. While many know Twain as a novelist and satirist, he was also an opinionated social and political commentator and active in many progressive causes. A prolific traveler, he was well informed of and outspoken regarding world issues.

Though he never traveled to China, Twain wrote about Chinese immigrants and their treatment in the United States, and was a vocal anti-imperialist. His friendship with American diplomat Anson Burlingame gave him particular insight, interest, and sympathy for the Chinese. Through one of his closest friends, the Reverend Joseph Twichell, Twain became involved in the Chinese Educational Mission, which brought more than 120 male students from China to study in the United States from 1872-­-1881.  The Mark Twain House & Museum is honored to have the opportunity to display this very special collection from Shandong.

Viewing of the exhibition is complementary with a tour of The Mark Twain House. Without a tour, this exhibition can be viewed along with the other exhibits in the museum center for a $6.00 charge.

The opening reception on May 21 is free and open to the public.  Reservations are recommended--please call (860) 280-3130 or click here.

Writing Memoir with Judy Mandel

Thursday, May 28, 4-week writing course on Thursday evenings, 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm, May 28th - June 18th.

Creating the World of Your Memoir with Judy Mandel

You have a story to tell. A unique journey that can illuminate a path for others. But how to tell it? What structure will help you tell your story in a way that will resonate with readers?

In this workshop session we will discuss, and write about, these important issues for memoir writers as well as:

➢ How to determine your perspective, where the “I” is writing from in your story
➢ How to choose your events/scenes to include in your story that reflect your theme
➢ When to tell and when to show, and what is the difference
➢ How to find your theme
➢ What details will make your story resonate with your reader
➢ Use of narrative, reflection, commentary in your work
➢ Issues of privacy for those mentioned in your book
➢ What will your family say? Should you care?

Judy L. Mandel is the author of the award-winning memoir Replacement Child (Seal Press, 2013). Judy’s essays and articles have appeared in Connecticut LIFE, ASJA Monthly, Complete Wellbeing Magazine, Connecticut Authors and Publishers Newsletter, and The Southampton Review.

$200 for 4 weeks. Register by calling (860) 280-3130 or clicking here.

The Mark Twain House & Museum and Grymm Studios presents Springtime Steampunk Social: An afternoon of Tea, Steam, Songs and Sweets

Saturday, May 30, 12:00 - 3:00 p.m.

Steampunk will once again invade The Mark Twain House & Museum in the form of an old-fashioned tea party in Hal Holbrook Hall. On Saturday, May 30, from 12:00 noon to 3:00 p.m., guests are invited to come in costume, try some tea, and hobnob with delightful members of the Steampunk community.

This Steampunk Social, hosted by Grymm Studios, features Nikki Woolfolk, Author & Chocolatier, the musical styling of Venus Lens Cap, plus a showing of the award winning short film 1873: the Insidious Intrigue by Chronophotograph Studios. The event will include a Victorian-style afternoon tea with delectable treats. Attendees are encouraged to come in costume, but it is not required. 

Tours of The Mark Twain House will be available at 11:00 a.m. and at 3:00 p.m.

And just what is "Steampunk"? Steampunk is the future as imagined through the eyes of the past. It is mechanical gears and boilers, dirtiness mixed with shininess of brass and copper with the deep red of cherrywood. It is a time for tea and gadgets, airships and ether. Steampunk is a trip to the moon through the barrel of a cannon. It is progeny of Jules Verne and H. G. Wells finding their voice in fiction, fashion and music. Steampunk is all of these things and more. One doesn't need to go to the store to buy Steampunk. The do-it-yourself mentality reigns freely. Steampunk is what you make it, but one might want to bring some brass goggles along for the ride.  One of the literary works that inspired the Steampunk movement is Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.

 

Tickets are $15/$10 MTH&M Members. If you want to include a tour of The Mark Twain House, the additional cost is only $5.00. Please call (860) 280-3130 or click here.

Jun

June


BOOK/MARK - "The Twain Shall Meet: The Mysterious Legacy of Samuel L. Clemens' Granddaughter, Nina Clemens Gabrilowitsch" with author Susan Bailey

Wednesday, June 3, 7:00 pm; moderated by Jeff Mainville

Did famous author Mark Twain’s only surviving child, Clara, and her daughter, Nina Clemens Gabrilowitsch, take a life-long secret to their graves? After extensive research, and using techniques from genetic genealogy, "The Twain Shall Meet" authors believe the answer is a resounding “yes.”

If you thought you knew everything about Samuel Langhorne Clemens’ family, this book will be a page-turning eye opener. This work of nonfiction takes the reader on a mesmerizing and heartwarming journey into the tangled universe of mother-daughter relationships as co-authors Susan Bailey and genealogist and historic researcher Deborah Gosselin seek to uncover the identity of Bailey’s mother—a quest that leads them straight into the heart of Clara’s and Nina’s world.

This is a free BOOK/MARK event and is followed by a book sale and signing. Reservations are highly recommended. Please call (860) 280-3130 or click here.

Tom Sawyer Day: Adventures Abroad

Saturday, June 6, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The Mark Twain House & Museum presents its annual, family activity Tom Sawyer Day  -- this time with a international twist as "Tom Sawyer Day: Adventures Abroad."

Mark Twain was well known for his international travels.  His first book was The Innocents Abroad. And he wrote a sequel to his autobiographical novel The Adventures of  Tom Sawyer called Tom Sawyer Abroad.  The Museum's 2015 exhibition is "Travel is Fatal To Prejudice: Mark Twain's Journeys Abroad," chronicling Twain's adventures around the globe. 

The free event will include pony rides, a petting zoo, live music, games, arts & crafts, the Mark Twain Players from Hartford Stage, food trucks, and much more fun & entertainment!

The live music will include an international array: Fiesta del Norte, a mariachi band that performs traditional folk and popular music of Mexico; Horizon Blue, a quartet, that performs Americana and country music; and Nzinga’s Daughters, a group that sings African, Caribbean and African-American songs.

Plus Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher will be coming all the way from Hannibal for the 3rd year in a row.

Discount tours of the Mark Twain House will be available at $10 for adults and seniors and $5 for children.

Tom Sawyer Day is generously supported by the Farmington Bank Community Foundation, the Greater Hartford Arts Council, and Evelyn W. Preston Memorial Trust Fund, Bank of America, Trustee.

Free!

CitySingers of Hartford: "LEGENDS OF TWAIN--Quips, Quotes & River Songs!"

Saturday, June 6, and Sunday, June 7 at 4:00 p.m. each day

In two performances at the Mark Twain House & Museum’s Lincoln Financial Auditorium, CitySingers of Hartford will present Legends of Twain: Quips, Quotes & River Songs! giving snapshots of Mark Twain’s life through a blend of music, narrative and drama. Twain’s writings that reflect his life and times in Hartford and beyond will be enriched by CitySingers’ performance of river songs and music that Twain heard and especially enjoyed. Also featured will be a the moving Civil War anthem “Maryland, My Maryland,” a reading from Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and spirituals associated with the Underground Railroad, a cause“ close to home” for Twain and his neighbor Harriet Beecher Stowe. …And to make the scenario complete, John Pogson, nationally known impersonator of Twain, will deliver a running commentary of famous quips and quotes from the literary legend himself!

Tickets are $10 / $7 for students and seniors. Free for members. Please call (860) 280-3130. Or click here for non-members for June 6. Click here for non-members for June 7. Click here for members for June 6. Click here for memberrs for June 7.

NOOK FARM AUTHOR TALK: "The Power of Conviction: My Wrongful Conviction 18 Years in Prison and the Freedom earned Through Forgiveness and Faith" with James Tillman and Jeffrey Kimball

Monday, June 8, 7:00 p.m. program moderated by John Motley, followed by an 8:30 p.m. dessert reception in Hal Holbrook Hall. Jointly hosted by Community Partners in Action and The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center.

James Tillman was stretched out on his basement couch, relaxing after a long day of work at the car wash, the smell of sweet onions and simmering steak filling the air of his modest apartment in the projects of Hartford, Conn. His mother, a bible perched nearby, was softly singing a hymn when she was shaken by the thundering sound of pounding on the front door. It wasn’t a knock; it was an act of sheer force. In an instant, the police burst in, lifted James out of his home and shoved him into prison, arresting him for the brutal rape of a young corporate executive. For over 18 years, James professed his innocence, through the investigation, trial, appeals, and to anyone who would listen. Finally, after a series of extraordinary events, the Connecticut Innocence Project took up James’ case, eventually winning his freedom—the first person to be exonerated in the state through the use of DNA.

This is an inspirational story about the power of conviction: the wrongful conviction that sent James Tillman to prison for over 18 years, and the power of his own conviction that helped him persevere, offer a transformational forgiveness and earn a redemption that is so valued he remarkably calls his experience in prison, “a gift.”

"The Power of Conviction" is for people who are facing tough times. You will understand that you’re not alone, that things can be brutally bad and we can react poorly at times, but where there is love, there is always hope.

How did James Tillman endure 18 years of hell in prison? What specific lessons can you learn about the transformational power of forgiveness, love and conviction? When faced with your own challenges in life, what will you choose?

This is a free program and is followed by a reception and book sale/signing. Reservations are highly suggested. Please call (860) 280-3130 or click here.

Book Launch Event - Mark Twain’s Guide to Diet, Exercise, Beauty, Fashion, Investment, Romance, Health & Happiness by Mark Dawidziak

Tuesday, June 9, 7:00 p.m.

Largely Literary Theater Company co-founders Mark Dawidziak and Sara Showman present a selection of material drawn from Mark Twain's Guide to Diet, Exercise, Beauty, Fashion, Investment, Romance, Health and Happiness. Collected and edited by veteran Twain enthusiast Mark Dawidziak, this new book collects the writer's often politically incorrect and always unapologetically honest advice on everything from drinking to swearing. Dawidziak plays Twain and Showman plays a variety of characters in this one-act presentation, which includes sections on "Curing a Cold" and politics. The husband-and-wife team regularly perform a two-act collection of Twain material called Twain By Two. The television critic at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Dawidziak has been portraying Twain on stage for more than 35 years. His previous Twain-centric books include Mark My Words: Mark Twain on WritingHorton Foote's The Shape of the River: The Lost Teleplay About Mark Twain and Mark Twain in Ohio. Mark Twain's Guide to Diet, Exercise, Beauty, Fashion, Investment, Romance, Health and Happiness is dedicated to his longtime friend, Hal Holbrook.

Followed by a book sale and signing.

 

Suggested donation $5.00. Reservations are recommended. Please call (860) 280-3130 or click here.

The Trouble Begins at 5:30: Mark Twain and the Jaffa Colony

Wednesday, June 10, 5:00 p.m. wine and hors doeuvres reception; 5:30 p.m. talk

Henry Cohn, the Superior Court judge, legal historian and Twain aficionado from West Hartford, will speak on the Jaffa Colony, an extraordinary settlement of Protestant Christians set up in Twain’s era in what is now Israel.

Led by a controversial and charismatic preacher, they believed they could hasten the Second Coming of Christ by encouraging Jewish resettlement of Palestine.

But the venture failed, and in his travel book The Innocents Abroad, Twain described his encounter with 40 colonists who boarded his ship at Jaffa, in a bid to escape to Egypt. The colony, Twain wrote, was "a complete fiasco."

"The Trouble Begins at 5:30" is The Mark Twain House & Museum's popular after-work lecture series on Twainian subjects, held on the second Wednesday of every month other than January and August. The series has offered good food and drink, good conversation and intriguing talks since 2010. It takes its name from Twain's own lecture posters, which were headed "The Trouble Begins at Eight." 


The series is supported by Connecticut Explored magazine, Hot Tomato's restaurant. Big Dollar Liquors of Bristol and The Friends of The Mark Twain House & Museum. ASL signing for the lectures is provided courtesy of students of the Interpreting 1 Class in Northwestern Connecticut Community College's Interpreter Preparation Program.  

$5.00; reserve at 860-280-3130 or click here.

Jacqueline Schwab Concert in the Mark Twain House Drawing Room

Thursday, June 11, 7:00 p.m.

The Mark Twain House & Museumpresents Jacqueline Schwab, pianist on the Ken Burns "Mark Twain" documentary, performing an intimate concert in drawing room of The Mark Twain House. 

Pianist Jacqueline Schwab, heard on Ken Burns' PBS documentary Mark Twain (and his Civil War, Baseball, National Parks, The War, and others) will share her reflective and lilting solo piano arrangements of vintage American music--tunes that might have been heard in Twain's parlor: Civil War and Stephen Foster parlor tunes, Victorian dance hall music, Scots and Irish airs and dance tunes brought over by settlers, and ragtime. Schwab has performed at the White House (for President Clinton), and, with Scottish singer Jean Redpath, on the Late Show with David Letterman and A Prairie Home Companion. Her signature arrangements of American "heart songs" and dance tunes reflect the community style of music making in Twain's Day but also draw on sounds of today's traditional music world. Come warm your hearts, tap your toes, and perhaps even join in singing!

Seating for this very special event will be extremely limited.  

Generously supported by Falcetti Music.

 

Tickets are $25 / $20 for Mark Twain House & Museum Members.  For tickets, please call (860) 280-3130 or click here.

A Conversation with Best-Selling Author James Patterson

Wednesday, June 17, 7:30 p.m.

Continuing The Mark Twain House & Museum's tradition of presenting the best-selling authors of all time (Stephen King in 2013 and Dan Brown in 2014), it's a pleasure to announce that James Patterson will appearing in Hartford as a benefit for the museum.

James Patterson is the world's best-selling author since 2001 and has over 300 million copies of his books in print.  In January, 2010, The New York Times Magazine featured James Patterson on its cover and hailed him as having "transformed book publishing," and Time magazine has called him as "The Man Who Can't Miss."

It's a rare on-stage appearance for Patterson, who will engage in conversation with WNPR's Ray Hardman, and it's a special opportunity for his many fans.This incredible event will take place right across the street from the Mark Twain House at Immanuel Congregational Church, 10 Woodland Street, Hartford. Free parking is available in the parking lots at The Mark Twain House & Museum and in the church's Woodland Street lot.

This rare public appearance is certain to sell out, so be sure to order early!

This event is generously supported by The Hartford.

Ticket prices are $60. They are $50 for members of The Mark Twain House. There will be a limited number of $175 VIP tickets available that include a pre-event reception at the Town and County Club (22 Woodland Street, Hartford--right next door to Immanuel Congregational Church) with an opportunity to meet and chat with James Patterson; premium VIP seating at the event; and a pre-signed copy of one of James Patterson's books.

To purchase tickets, please call (860) 280-3130. The link to buy tickets online can be found here.

 

Nook Farm Author Talk - "Hidden in Plain Sight: The Other People in Norman Rockwell's America" with author Jane Allen Petrick

Wednesday, June 17, 7:00 p.m. at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center

Norman Rockwell's America was not all white. As early as 1936, Rockwell was portraying people of color with empathy and a dignity often denied them at the time. And he created these portraits from live models.

Hidden in Plain Sight: The Other People in Norman Rockwell's America unfolds, for the first time, the stories of the Asian, African, and Native Americans who modeled for Norman Rockwell. These people of color, though often hidden in plain sight, are present throughout Rockwell's more than 4000 illustrations. People like the John Lane family, Navajos poignantly depicted in the virtually unknown Norman Rockwell painting, "Glen Canyon Dam." People like Isaac Crawford, a ten year old African-American Boy Scout who helped Norman Rockwell finally integrate the Boy Scout calendar.

In this engrossing and often humorous narrative, Jane Allen Petrick explores what motivated Norman Rockwell to slip people of color "into the picture" in the first place. And in so doing, she persuasively documents the famous illustrator's deep commitment to and pointed portrayals of ethnic tolerance, portrayals that up to now have been, as Norman Rockwell biographer Laura Claridge so clearly put it, "bizarrely neglected".

Hidden in Plain Sight: The Other People in Norman Rockwell's America is an eye opener for everyone who loves Norman Rockwell, everyone who hates Norman Rockwell, and for all those people who never thought much about Norman Rockwell because they believed Norman Rockwell never thought much about them. This book will expand the way you think about Norman Rockwell. And it will deepen the way you think about Norman Rockwell's America.

The event is free, but registration is encouraged at 860-522-9258, Ext. 317. Free, secure parking is available at the Stowe Center (77 Forest St.) and The Mark Twain House & Museum (351 Farmington Avenue) parking lots.

The MOuTH with Chion Wolf--“On Vacation - Stories about what went down when you put your feet up”

Friday, June 19, 7:30 p.m.

The Mark Twain House & Museum continues "The MOuTH," a storytelling series with WNPR personality Chion Wolf. Come hear & tell stories on the theme “On Vacation - Stories About What Went Down When You Put Your Feet Up”

The event is in no way a competition, just storytelling in front of friends in a museum dedicated to Mark Twain, one of our country's best storytellers.

Submissions are now open. Here's how it works: Email HartfordMouth@gmail.com with your name, approximate story length of LESS THAN 10 MINUTES (note - it usually takes longer to tell your story than you think! Tell it a few times to friends, refine it, and time it!), and a short description of what your story is about.

Wolf, along with Jacques Lamarre of the Mark Twain House, will look over the submissions and assemble a lineup. "If you don't get on the list, don't take it personally!" says Wolf. "It's our loss, and hopefully we can hear from you at a future 'Mouth' event."

There will also be a "Wild Card": Those wanting to tell a short story can put their names in a hat when they arrive, and at some point, a name will be picked. Audio of the event will be recorded.

Chion Wolf, a noted photographer and voice performer, joined Colin McEnroe and producer Patrick Skahill to complete the trifecta that has become The Colin McEnroe Show on WNPR as the show's announcer and sometimes-sidekick. She can be heard during station breaks many days of the week.

$5.00 (Storytellers chosen for the lineup get in free.) Call (860) 280-3130 or click here.

Graveyard Shift Ghost Tours

Friday, June 26, and Saturday, June 27; 6:00, 7:00, 8:00 and 9:00 p.m.

We reprise our popular Graveyard Shift Ghost Tours for some summer fun. The Mark Twain House has been featured on Syfy Channel's Ghost Hunters and the Biography Channel's My Ghost Story.

On these tours participants will hear about these investigations -- and learn about Mark Twain's own interest in the supernatural.

Filled with haunted history, dark tales and Victorian traditions surrounding seances and spiritualism, these nighttime tours are as educational as they are goosebump-inducing.

They sell out fast, so be sure to call soon to make your reservations!

The tours are tsponsored by Tsunami Tsolutions.

Tours are $22 for adults, $17 for members, and $15 for children. Call (860) 280-3130 or click here.

Deven Green (aka Betty Bowers, America's Best Christian) is back with an opening act!

Saturday, June 27, 7:00 p.m.

Deven Green, the star of BETTY BOWERS: AMERICA'S BEST CHRISTIAN and the "Welcome to My..." Parody videos on YouTube, brings her electric ukulele lounge act to the Webster Bank Museum Center at the Mark Twain House & Museum! Join us for one of the funniest, most subversive comediennes working today.

Opening for Deven is the Survivors Swing Band--the oldest member is 94! Plus they'll be joining Deven for a number or two.

About Deven Green

Deven started out as a professional figure skater whose triple-gold medal status is memorialized in her hometown located in the remote, boreal, tundra of Northern Canada. After landing in Toronto she perfected her comedic sensibilities and appeared in commercials, voice overs, TV and movie roles. This bon vivant then moved to Los Angeles where she currently resides and continues to create more comedy, music, and videos with her unmistakeable brand of inscrutable lexicon. Enjoying a plethora of awards, millions of views and a legion of fervent followers, Deven is now considered 'legendary.' She is indeed the nefarious creator/voice of the "Welcome To My Home" parodies, is the satirical "America's Best Christian - Betty Bowers," and, is the spokesmodel for OCCmakeup! You have seen her on RuPaul's Drag Race and performing her convivial eclectic music act across the country!

About the Survivors Swing Band

The Survivors Swing Band generates energy and excitement everywhere they perform.  They are a 7-piece professional jazz band, based in Connecticut, that plays the classic melodies from an era gone by--hot tunes and soothing ballads of the Swing Era-- plus many of the wonderful melodies from the two decades that followed.  The "Big Bands" played this music with a high degree of rigid orchestration.  The Survivors render it with a greater tilt towards improvisation, thus giving each pass at a tune somewhat of a new flavor while still keeping true to the original melodies.  Your memories of the "good old good ones" that they play will be readily revived!  With trumpet, saxes, piano, guitar, bass, and drums, let them entertain you!

 

$20 / $15 for MTH&M members. Call (860) 280-3130 or click here.

Jul

July


Our Annual Hartford Circus Fire Event: the new book "Big Top Burning" with author Laura A. Woollett

Monday, July 6, 7:00 p.m.

July 6, 2015 marks the 71st anniversary of the Hartford Circus Fire. Continuing The Mark Twain House & Museum's tradition of commerating this anniversary, this year the museum presents the new book Big Top Burning (by Laura A. Wollett) which investigates the 1944 Hartford circus fire and invites readers to take part in a critical evaluation of the evidence.
 
The fire broke out at 2:40 p.m. Thousands of men, women, and children were crowded under Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey’s big top watching the Flying Wallendas begin their death-defying high-wire act. Suddenly someone screamed “Fire!” and the panic began. By 2:50 the tent had burned to the ground. Not everyone had made it out alive.
 
With primary source documents and survivor interviews, Big Top Burningrecounts the true story of the 1944 Hartford circus fire—one of the worst fire disasters in U.S. history. Its remarkable characters include Robert Segee, a 15-year-old circus roustabout and known pyromaniac, and the Cook children, Donald, Eleanor, and Edward, who were in the audience when the circus tent caught fire. Guiding readers through the investigations of the mysteries that make this moment in history so fascinating, this book asks: Was the unidentified body of a little girl nicknamed “Little Miss 1565” Eleanor Cook? Was the fire itself an act of arson—and did Robert Segee set it? Big Top Burning combines a gripping disaster story, an ongoing detective and forensics saga, and World War II–era American history, inviting middle-grades readers to take part in a critical evaluation of the evidence and draw their own conclusions.

 

This is a free event, but reservations are required. Please call (860) 280-3130 or click here.

Sea Tea Improv presents POWER POINTLESS TWAIN TALKS

Thursday, July 16, 7:30 p.m.

Improv Power Point presentations, Twisted TED Talks, and Specious Speeches – Sea Tea Improv takes business communications to task in this fast, funny event!

Sea Tea Improv (seateaimprov.com) is an improv comedy company professionally trained by Hartford Stage Company, ImprovBoston, and the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York that dazzles Hartford and beyond on a regular basis with their witty interpretations of audience suggestions.  They perform short improvised games and long improvised plays at public & private functions, teach classes to students of all ages, and train professionals in the art of communication. They've performed all over Connecticut, New England, and up and down the Eastern Seaboard.

 

Tickets are $15 / $10 for MTH&M members. Please call (860) 280-3130.

Graveyard Shift Ghost Tours

Friday, July 24, and Saturday, July 25; 6:00, 7:00, 8:00 and 9:00 p.m.

We reprise our popular Graveyard Shift Ghost Tours for some summer fun. The Mark Twain House has been featured on Syfy Channel's Ghost Hunters and the Biography Channel's My Ghost Story.

On these tours participants will hear about these investigations -- and learn about Mark Twain's own interest in the supernatural.

Filled with haunted history, dark tales and Victorian traditions surrounding seances and spiritualism, these nighttime tours are as educational as they are goosebump-inducing.

They sell out fast, so be sure to call soon to make your reservations!

The tours are tsponsored by Tsunami Tsolutions.

Tickets are $22 for adults, $17 for members, and $15 for children. Call (860) 280-3130 or click here.

Jump Start Your Novel with Mary Sharnick

Monday, July 27, July 27 - 30, 6 - 8 pm

Workshop participants will initiate plot and character development simultaneously by crafting a first chapter for their proposed novels.
Referencing some effective opening chapters from already-published works, class members will identify the pivotal action and primary desire of each piece's protagonist. Doing so will afford useful illustrations for beginning their own works.

Winner of a Beatrice Fox Auerbach Solo Writer's Fellowship, a Wesleyan Writers' Conference Scholarship, and two Nigel Taplin Innovative Teaching Grants, Mary has had numerous opportunities to research in Venice, Italy, for two historical novels. The first, THIRST (Fireship Press, 2012), is presently being adapted for the operatic stage by composer Gerard Chiusano and librettists Mary Noonan-Chiusano and Robert Cutrofello. The second, PLAGUED (Fireship Press, 2014), is the first of The Michael of Rhodes Series. At present, Mary is drafting its sequel, FORTY DAYS. Mary has presented at Yale Writers' Conference, the Italian American Studies Association 48th annual conference in Toronto, Auburn (AL) Writers' Conference, UCONN's Osher Center for Lifetime Learning, and at numerous libraries and schools. Mary's shorter works have appeared in Southern Humanities Review, New York Journal of Books, America, Italian Americana, American Journal of Alzheimer's and Other Dementias, and Healing Ministry, among others. Mary teaches writing and chairs the English Department at Chase Collegiate School, Waterbury, CT. She leads her writing students on bi-annual trips to Italy, the country she considers her second home.

$180.

Writing for the Real World with Christine Palm

Monday, July 27, July 27 - 30, 6 - 8 pm

Throughout our lives, we are called upon to write something for a certain public occasion. Most of us dread this duty, which we execute out of respect for the person asking us, rather than out of any real joy of writing. Perhaps we are driven to protest an event in the news, but don’t know how to begin. Often, it can be the sad occasion of a loved one’s death, when an obituary is needed. Such public expressions can be intimidating, and, in the case of a crisis, stressful. In Writing for the Real World, students will explore such writing challenges as obituary, eulogy, wedding or anniversary toast, protest manifesto, testimony for a public hearing, op-ed, letter-to-the-editor, and perhaps even a piece to place in a family “time capsule” for future generations. 

Christine Palm recently completed a teacher's guide and film series entitled "What the Dead Know: Bringing to Young Audiences the Poetry of Six Modernists Buried in New England." She has taught creative writing, poetry, grammar and film studies at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, and taught in Kent School's summer workshop for young writers. She was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in essay writing, published a chapbook with Finishing Line Press entitled Preparing the Ground, and currently serves as communications director for the Connecticut General Assembly's Permanent Commission on the Status of Women. 

$180.

BOOK LAUNCH - "The Two-State Delusion: Israel and Palestine – A Tale of Two Narratives" with author Padraig O'Malley

Tuesday, July 28, 7:00 p.m.

A leading reconciliation expert argues that a two-state solution is no longer a viable path to create lasting peace in Israel and Palestine

Disputes over settlements, the right of return, the rise of Hamas, recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, and other intractable issues have repeatedly derailed peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine.

Now, in a book that is sure to spark controversy, renowned peacemaker Padraig O’Malley argues that the moment for a two-state solution has passed. After examining each issue and speaking with Palestinians and Israelis as well as negotiators directly involved in past summits, O’Malley concludes that even if such an agreement could be reached, it would be nearly impossible to implement given the staggering costs, Palestine’s political disunity and the viability of its economy, rapidly changing demographics, Israel’s continuing political shift to the right, global warming’s effect on the water supply, and more.

In this revelatory, hard-hitting book, O’Malley approaches the key issues pragmatically, without ideological bias, to show that we must find new frameworks for reconciliation if there is to be lasting peace between Palestine and Israel.

This book launch, which is followed by a book sale and signing, is a free event. Reservations are highly recommended. Please call (860) 280-3130.

Our Ice Cream Social!

Thursday, July 30, 5:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.

I scream, you scream, line up for ice cream, as The Mark Twain House & Museum invites the neighbors in for its 7th annual free Ice Cream Social on the patio.

Enjoy free dish ice cream and sundaes whipped up by The Friends of The Mark Twain House & Museum, plus music and more!

 

This is a free event!

CLUE Tours of the Mark Twain House

Thursday, July 30, Tours step off every 15 minutes starting at 7:00 p.m.

CLUE Tours will be offered in a special, one-night-only edition at The Mark Twain House & Museum, using the various rooms (secret passageway, conservatory, billiards room, and more) of the Twain house -- and some of the author's favorite literary characters -- as part of the game. 

Who killed that varmint Pap Finn? Was it Tom Sawyer in the Library with the Wrench? Merlin in the Billiard Room with the Knife? The Pauper in the Kitchen with the Rope?

Play our live-action version of the classic board game CLUE in an hour-long tour featuring the famed comedy troupe SEA TEA IMPROV as Twain's beloved characters/suspects. CLUE Tours provide all the murder, mayhem and merriment you expect in a whodunit. Our Clue Tours were featured on an episode of the Travel Channel show Wackiest Tours!

Sea Tea Improv (seateaimprov.com) is an improv comedy company professionally trained by Hartford Stage Company, ImprovBoston, and the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York that dazzles Hartford and beyond on a regular basis with their witty interpretations of audience suggestions.  They perform short improvised games and long improvised plays at public & private functions, teach classes to students of all ages, and train professionals in the art of communication. They've performed all over Connecticut, New England, and up and down the Eastern Seaboard.

Reservations are required, and tours sell out, so please book early. Tickets are $22;  museum members are $17; children 6 to 17 are $15.  To purchase tickets, please call (860) 280-3130.

Aug

August


Playwriting Monologues with Sarah Moon

Monday, August 3, August 3-6, 6 - 8 pm

This workshop is an opportunity for writers to focus in on one of the most challenging, but potentially powerful forms of writing within the dramatic genre, a form that can also be put to use in fiction and poetry. The monologue, whether the character intends it to or not, always reveals. The way those revelations are made is a matter of craft that we'll discuss in-depth and practice in this workshop. Participants will read and discuss a selection of the great dramatic and comedic monologues from the Classical (Euripides, Aristophanes) to the contemporary (Tony Kushner, Amy Herzog). From those we read, each writer will pick an inspiration-model for the creation of his or her own monologue, which can be a stand alone piece or written for characters from works-in-progress. The workshop will culminate in readings of the finished monologues by guest actors followed by a group discussion. 

$180. Call 860-280-3130 to register or click here.

Beginning Middle End with Melanie Faranello

Monday, August 3, August 3-6, 6-8 pm

We will work together to write our own short stories from beginning to middle to end, while focusing on various elements of fiction including plot, structure, point of view, characterization, and dialogue. Each class will be a combination of in-class writing to produce material as well as presentation and discussion on various aspects of craft.

Melanie P Faranello received her MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. Her fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and received various mentions including winner of The New School Chapbook Award Series in Fiction and a top twenty-five winner in Glimmer Train’s Very Short Fiction Contest. Her novel manuscript was a top finalist in Sarabande Books’ Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction and a semi-finalist in The Dana Awards for The Novel and in Whidbey Emerging Writers’ Contest. Her work has been published in Fifth Wednesday Journal, Requited Journal, Ampersand Review, Literary Mama, Emerge Literary Journal, among others. She was awarded an artist residency from The Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts and has taught creative writing, composition, English, and literature for over ten years in Chicago, New York, and Ecuador. Originally from Chicago, she currently lives in Connecticut with her family.

$180.

Graveyard Shift Ghost Tours

Friday, August 28, and Saturday, August 29, 7:00 p.m. 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.

We reprise our popular Graveyard Shift Ghost Tours for summer chills. The Mark Twain House has been featured on Syfy Channel's Ghost Hunters and the Biography Channel's My Ghost Story.

On these tours participants will hear about these investigations -- and learn about Mark Twain's own interest in the supernatural.

Filled with haunted history, dark tales and Victorian traditions surrounding seances and spiritualism, these nighttime tours are as educational as they are goosebump-inducing.

They sell out fast, so be sure to call soon to make your reservations!

The tours are tsponsored by Tsunami Tsolutions.

$22 with discounts available for members and children. Please call (860) 280-3130 for more information & ticketing or click here.

Sep

September


Writing the Land with Christine Palm

Wednesday, September 2, Sept 2nd - Oct 7th, 6- 8 pm

Students will write about place using multiple genres. This class will expose students to various genres: poetry, memoir, short fiction, creative non-fiction, narrative, humor and dramatic scene, to name a few possibilities. The idea is to give students a chance to “sample” several genres to see what form best suits their own voice, and best conveys their thoughts. Students will stretch their ability to see, to recall, to describe. (We can, perhaps, play with chronology, but students will focus on the same place in each piece they write.) In this way, the writers will see how form shapes their perception of the place, and informs how they say what they want to say. 

Christine Palm recently completed a teacher's guide and film series entitled "What the Dead Know: Bringing to Young Audiences the Poetry of Six Modernists Buried in New England." She has taught creative writing, poetry, grammar and film studies at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, and taught in Kent School's summer workshop for young writers. She was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in essay writing, published a chapbook with Finishing Line Press entitled Preparing the Ground, and currently serves as communications director for the Connecticut General Assembly's Permanent Commission on the Status of Women. 

$265.

Fiction with Melanie Faranello

Wednesday, September 2, Sept 2nd - Oct 7th, 6- 8 pm

This class will combine craft talks on various elements of fiction writing including plot, structure, point of view, characterization, and dialogue along with in-class writing exercises for the first part of each session. The second half of each session will be dedicated to discussing participants’ own short story drafts. Participants’ manuscripts will be distributed to the class for constructive critiques and discussions each week.  

Melanie P Faranello received her MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. Her fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and received various mentions including winner of The New School Chapbook Award Series in Fiction and a top twenty-five winner in Glimmer Train’s Very Short Fiction Contest. Her novel manuscript was a top finalist in Sarabande Books’ Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction and a semi-finalist in The Dana Awards for The Novel and in Whidbey Emerging Writers’ Contest. Her work has been published in Fifth Wednesday Journal, Requited Journal, Ampersand Review, Literary Mama, Emerge Literary Journal, among others. She was awarded an artist residency from The Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts and has taught creative writing, composition, English, and literature for over ten years in Chicago, New York, and Ecuador. Originally from Chicago, she currently lives in Connecticut with her family.

$265.

Nonfiction with Susan Campbell

Wednesday, September 2, Sept 2nd - Oct 7th, 6- 8 pm

Our grandmas all told us to tell the truth -- but they didn't say we had to be boring about it. You CAN write non-fiction in an entertaining and enlightening way. Susan Campbell is an award-winning author of "Dating Jesus," and the biography, "Tempest-Tossed: The Spirit of Isabella Beecher Hooker." She was born in Kentucky and raised in southwest Missouri. She's worked at newspapers in Missouri, Kansas, Maryland, and Connecticut. For more than a quarter-century, she was a columnist at the Hartford Courant, where her work was recognized by the National Women's Political Caucus, New England Associated Press News Executives, the Society for Professional Journalists, the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, and the Sunday Magazine Editors Association. Her column about the shootings at lottery headquarters in March 1998 was part of The Courant's Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage. The mother of two adult sons, and the grandmother of seven, she has a bachelor's degree from University of Maryland, and a master's degree from Hartford Seminary, and she lives in Connecticut with her husband.

$265.

Storytelling with Matthew Dicks

Wednesday, September 2, Sept 2nd - Oct 7th, 6- 8 pm

Speak Up co-founder and 16-time Moth StorySLAM champion Matthew Dicks teaches an intensive, six week long workshop on the art of storytelling. This is a workshop designed for people with little or no previous storytelling experience and seeks to meet the goals of a wide range of participants. While many of our workshop graduates have gone on to tell stories on stage for Speak Up, The Moth, and other storytelling organizations, most students take this beginner-level workshop with no desire to ever take the stage. People want to learn about storytelling for personal and professional development, to meet new people, to improve communication skills, to develop their writing ability, to challenge themselves, to finally get the attention of grandchildren and colleagues, and to try something new.

Included in this workshop will be:

·         Methods for generating ideas for stories from your life experiences (you have more stories than you realize!)

·         Games designed to generate new story ideas, develop the ability to speak extemporaneously, and apply the skills taught in the class

·         Structuring an effective story

·         The force of gravity in a story

·         Development of humor

·         Development of suspense

·         Performance techniques

·         The 17 Most Important Rules of Storytelling

In addition to the modeling of stories, direct instruction, and interactive components, participants will be invited to (but not required to) develop a story of their own that will be presented to the class for critique.

Matthew Dicks is the author of the novels Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, Something Missing and Unexpectedly, Milo, and the upcoming The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs. His novels have been translated into more than 25 languages worldwide, and his most recent is an international bestseller. He is also the author of the rock opera The Clowns and the musical Caught in the Middle. He is a columnist for Seasons magazine and has published work in The Hartford Courant, The Huffington Post, and The Christian Science Monitor. When not hunched over a computer screen, he fills his days as an elementary school teacher, a storyteller, a blogger, a wedding DJ, a minister, a life coach, and a Lord of Sealand. He is a former West Hartford Teacher of the Year and a finalist for Connecticut Teacher of the Year.

Matthew is a 16-time Moth StorySLAM champion and GrandSLAM champion whose stories have been featured on their nationally syndicated Moth Radio Hour and their weekly podcast. He has also told stories for The American Life, TED, The Story Collider, The Liar Show, Literary Death Match, The Mouth, and others. He is the co-founder and producer of Speak Up, a Hartford-based storytelling organization.  

$265.

Nature Writing Workshop with Hunter Liguore

Saturday, September 12, 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Exploring the Art of Nature Writing

According to Thomas J. Lyon in his book, This Incomparable Land, nature writing has three main divisions: natural history information, personal responses to nature, and philosophical interpretation of nature. In this course we will explore the three types of nature writing that Lyon suggests. Through writing exercises that take us in into the field, we’ll discover the different ways to write about nature, setting, and place. Through reading diverse authors in the field, we’ll uncover a variety of styles, and find our own place within the spectrum.

About the instructor: Hunter Liguore, a multi-Pushcart Prize nominee, holds degrees in history and writing. Her work has appeared internationally, in a variety of venues, including: Bellevue Literary Review, New Plains Review, The Irish Pages, Empirical Magazine, The Writer's Chronicle, DESCANT, The MacGuffin, Rio Grande Review, Spark: A Creative Anthology, Mason Road, Rattling Wall: PEN America, Strange Horizons, Amazing Stories, and many more. She is the editor-in-chief of American Athenaeum, a museum of words, dedicated to publishing the voices of the past to the present. She was the editor of the Mary Shelley tribute anthology, The Last Man Anthology, which features such luminaries as Ray Bradbury. She teaches both graduate and undergraduate writing in New England. Her novel, Next Breath, is represented by Regal Literary in New York.

$40. Register by calling 860-280-3130 or clicking here.

The MOuTH with Chion Wolf -- “Caught in the Act - Stories about not getting away with it”

Friday, September 18, 7:30 p.m.

The Mark Twain House & Museum continues "The MOuTH," a storytelling series with WNPR personality Chion Wolf.

The event is in no way a competition, just storytelling in front of friends in a museum dedicated to Mark Twain, one of our country's best storytellers.

Submissions are now open. Here's how it works: Email HartfordMouth@gmail.com with your name, approximate story length of LESS THAN 10 MINUTES (note - it usually takes longer to tell your story than you think! Tell it a few times to friends, refine it, and time it!), and a short description of what your story is about.

Wolf, along with Jacques Lamarre of the Mark Twain House, will look over the submissions and assemble a lineup. "If you don't get on the list, don't take it personally!" says Wolf. "It's our loss, and hopefully we can hear from you at a future 'Mouth' event."

There will also be a "Wild Card": Those wanting to tell a short story can put their names in a hat when they arrive, and at some point, a name will be picked. Audio of the event will be recorded.

Chion Wolf, a noted photographer and voice performer, joined Colin McEnroe and producer Patrick Skahill to complete the trifecta that has become The Colin McEnroe Show on WNPR as the show's announcer and sometimes-sidekick. She can be heard during station breaks many days of the week.

$5.00 (Storytellers chosen for the lineup get in free.) Call (860) 280-3130 or here.

BOOK/MARK: "Providential" with author Colin Channer

Wednesday, September 30, 7:00 p.m.

Colin Channer's debut poetry collection achieves an intimate and lyric meditation on family, policing, loss, and violence, but the work is enlivened by humor, tenderness, and the rich possibilities that come from honest reflection. Combined with a capacity to offer physical landscapes with painterly sensitivity and care, a graceful mining of the nuances of Jamaican patwa and American English, and a judicious use of metaphor and similie, Providential is a work of "heartical" insight and vulnerability.

Not since Claude McKay's Constab Ballads of 1912 has a writer attempted to tackle the unlikely literary figure of the Jamaican policeman. Now, over a century later, Channer draws on his own knowledge of Jamaican culture, on his complex relationship with his father (a Jamaican policeman), and frames these poems within the constantly humane principles of Rasta and reggae. The poems withinProvidential manage to turn the intricate relationships between a man and his father, a man and his mother, and man and his country, and a man and his children into something akin to grace.

This is a free Book/Mark event and is followed by a book sale and signing. Reservations are highly recommended. Please call (860) 280-3130.

Oct

October


Graveyard Shift Ghost Tours

Friday, October 2, Saturday, Oct. 3. Also October 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24, 29 and 30. 6:00, 7:00, 8:00 and 9:00 p.m.

We reprise our popular Graveyard Shift Ghost Tours for some winter fun. The Mark Twain House has been featured on Syfy Channel's Ghost Hunters and the Biography Channel's My Ghost Story.

On these tours participants will hear all these creepy tales -- and learn about Mark Twain's own interest in the supernatural.

Filled with haunted history, dark tales and Victorian traditions surrounding seances and spiritualism, these nighttime tours are as educational as they are goosebump-inducing.

They sell out fast, so be sure to call (860) 280-3130 soon to make your reservations!

The tours are tsponsored by Tsunami Tsolutions.

Please call (860) 280-3130 for more information & ticketing. Or, click herefor tickets.

Nov

November


Songwriting with Donna Martin

Saturday, November 7, 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Although there are many components to songwriting, the focus of this class will be on lyric writing. We will cover meter and form, rhyme schemes, strong starts and development techniques. Skills of clarity, the use of imagery and metaphor will also be included. It will be helpful if students come prepared with several ideas about what they’d like to write about. There will be time to create a lyric and then share it in a caring workshop setting to explore how the work can be further developed. Students will need to bring their own writing materials.

Donna Martin is a performing songwriter who has been touring the Northeast for over two decades and has recorded six cds of original music. She has appeared on stage with many luminaries including Bonnie Raitt, Sarah McLachlan and Charlie Daniels. She receives radio airplay from coast to coast and abroad and her work recently earned her a three month artist residency with the Helen Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos, New Mexico. She has also served on the faculty at the Greater Hartford Academy of The Arts for the last fourteen years where she taught songwriting.

$40. Register by calling 860-280-3130 or clicking here.

The MOuTH with Chion Wolf -- “You Animal! Stories about encounters with beasts, both foreign and domestic”

Friday, November 20, 7:30 p.m.

The Mark Twain House & Museum continues "The MOuTH," a storytelling series with WNPR personality Chion Wolf.

The event is in no way a competition, just storytelling in front of friends in a museum dedicated to Mark Twain, one of our country's best storytellers.

Submissions are now open. Here's how it works: Email HartfordMouth@gmail.com with your name, approximate story length of LESS THAN 10 MINUTES (note - it usually takes longer to tell your story than you think! Tell it a few times to friends, refine it, and time it!), and a short description of what your story is about.

Wolf, along with Jacques Lamarre of the Mark Twain House, will look over the submissions and assemble a lineup. "If you don't get on the list, don't take it personally!" says Wolf. "It's our loss, and hopefully we can hear from you at a future 'Mouth' event."

There will also be a "Wild Card": Those wanting to tell a short story can put their names in a hat when they arrive, and at some point, a name will be picked. Audio of the event will be recorded.

Chion Wolf, a noted photographer and voice performer, joined Colin McEnroe and producer Patrick Skahill to complete the trifecta that has become The Colin McEnroe Show on WNPR as the show's announcer and sometimes-sidekick. She can be heard during station breaks many days of the week.

$5.00 (Storytellers chosen for the lineup get in free.) Call (860) 280-3130 or here.

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Herstory Theater & The Mark Twain House & Museum present IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A Live Radio Play

Saturday, December 5, 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.

George Bailey, Zuzu, Clarence the Angel, and grumpy old Mr. Potter are turning Hartford into Bedford Falls this year! Come relive the story of a man who gets to see what life would have been like if he had never been born. (And there's even a Twain connection--when Clarence is pulled out of the water, he dries off his copy of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer!)

When the film "It's A Wonderful Life" was released in 1946, it was not an immediate popular or financial success. However, it's reputation grew over the years, and a clerical error resulting in the loss of its copyright protection resulted in it being shown widely during the Christmas season every year. It has become a phenomenon, and many don't feel that their holiday season is complete without watching it.

Now, there's a very unique opportunity to revisit this wonderful story--in a fun, live radio-show performance, complete with a foley (sound effects) artist! If you liked our "Dracula" program last month, you'll love this!

The play is written by Joe Landry and is directed by Virginia Wolf.

The performance is 90 minutes, and there is no intermission.

Saturday, December 6 - TWO SHOWS! 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.

$10. For tickets: please call (860) 280-3130.

The Friends of The Mark Twain House & Museum 35th Annual Holiday House Tour

Sunday, December 6, 11:00 a.m - 4:00 p.m.

This is the famed-in-Connecticut weekend holiday tradition when people flock to the Mark Twain House, and to distinctive area homes, for The Friends of The Mark Twain House & Museum Holiday House Tour.

The tour will feature Mark Twain's 19-room home and several historic homes will be opened for viewing for the 35th year of this event. Each will be decorated for the holidays and will feature live music and floral arrangements. The Twain mansion will be decorated for a 19th-century Christmas with the Samuel Clemens family.

The tour takes about three hours and requires some driving, but all the houses are not far from one another.

Proceeds from the tour will benefit the continued restoration, preservation, and education programs of The Mark Twain House & Museum, which is a National Historic Landmark.

More details to come!

The Friends of The Mark Twain House & Museum is a volunteer organization that has supported the museum for more than 50 years. Proceeds from the tour will benefit the continued restoration, preservation, and education programs of The Mark Twain House & Museum, which is a National Historic Landmark.

Ticketing information to be announced.

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