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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Shelley Fisher Fishkin <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 11 Mar 2001 12:24:09 -0600
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"Sounding the River (Huck Finn Revisited)" a new play written and directed
by Edward Morgan opened February 23rd at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater
and will be playing through April 1st.

From the Rep's 2000-2001 schedule brochure:

 "Twain's novel is turned inside out and springs to life with music, humor
and ghostly surprises. Old Huck and Old Jim relive their famous journey
down the Mississippi, remembering and wrestling with their legacy, race,
and Mark Twain himself."

Comments from playwright/director Edward Morgan in Prologue, newsletter of
Milwaukee Rep:

"I began with a simple idea: If we retold the story with an Old Huck and
Old Jim watching the events as they occur, then we could 'editorialize'
where necessary, we could emphasize modern parallels, and most importantly,
we could try to bring an African-American point of view to the story. Jim,
in effect, could speak much more for himself.

 Obviously, this focused the story even more on the issue of race. It also
introduced the theme of memory and personal retrospection--which I found
complementary to Twain's themes. And what I hoped is that by exploring
these themes with two old friends who've already been through it all
before, then we could create an experience that was inclusive, rather than

 It grew from there. Given the conceit that these two geezers were somehow
magically alive--its seemed to me they could use magic to 'conjure up' a
young Jim and Huck, and all the other necessary spirits. And once they were
in charge, then there might be ways that Old Huck and Old Jim would try to
monkey with the story. And before long, the two men were off on a new kind
of adventure.

Then came the music. Virtually all of American music is, in part, an
interplay between black and white cultures. So this became a wonderful
opportunity to draw from the well of southern music--blues, old time,
country, spirituals--to help evoke the days of yore. I decided on an Old
Time Singer and Fiddler to embody the white music; and a Bluesman to give
voice to the black experience. And as young Huck and Jim are carried
downstream, trusting, and relying on each other more and more, the music
too, began to flow together.

So I hope we'll end up with a fresh window on this great story, a kind of
fantastic exploration of a great American myth, told through three pairings
of black and white voices-Jim and Huck, Old Jim and Old Huck, and the
music. I have no delusions that I've improved on the original-but a novel
is far from a play-and our great opportunity with classics in the theater
is to pull away the mothballs of assumptions and clichés, and give them new
life in modern, dramatic mediums.

And so, with apologies, Mister Clemens, that's what we've set out to do."

Additional info:

The cast includes Jim Baker as Old Huck, Charles Dumas as Old Jim, Sean
McNall as Huck, Raphael Peacock as Jim, James Pickering as Pap/Sam. Also La
Shawn Banks as Young Slave, Paul Bentzen as King/Rigby Hopkins, Mark
Corkins as Duke/Doc Penrod, Darin Dahms as Raftsman, Jonathan Gillard Daly
as Silas/Blake, Olivia D. Dawson as Jennie, Laura Gordon as Miss
Watson/Liza,  Chris Mayse as Henshaw, Carl Palmer as Parker/Burton, Rose
Pickering as Widow/Aunt Sally, Charles R. Schoenherr as Lafe, L.J. Slavin
as Fiddler,  Cedric Turner as Bluesman, and Scott Wakefield as Old Time
Musician. Scenic Designer: Bill Clarke; Costume Designer: Martha Hally;
Lighting Designer: Robert Jared; Music Arranger/Director: Chic Street Man;
Sound Designer: Steven LeGrand; Dialect Coach: Pamela Christian; Dramaturg:
Paul Kosidowski; Fight Choreographer: Lee E. Ernst.

The Milwaukee Repertory Theater is located at the Patty & Jay Baker Theater
Complex, 108 East Wells Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

For Tickets call 414-224-9490/ Fax 414-224-9097 or go to the theater's web