MARK TWAIN TELLS OF BEING AN ACTOR
He Sees His Own "The Prince and the Pauper," and Relates Story of 22 Years Ago.
STAGE SPEECH CUT SHORT
He Managed to Narrate, However, That Once He Played Miles Hendon - Sees Educational Alliance Show.
Samuel L. Clemens - "Mark Twain" - in his white suit, sat in the audience that witnessed yesterday afternoon the Educational Alliance's performance of the play made from his book, "The Prince and the Pauper," in the theatre of the Alliance Building in East Broadway. Beside him was William Dean Howells, and nearby Daniel Frohman, and Miss Clemens. The rest of the audience, some 800 in all, was composed largely of the children of the neighborhood.
After the second act, the curtain was raised to disclose Mr. Clemens in his white suit. He made a speech in which he referred to his own playing of the role of Miles Hendon, and complimented the Alliance on its theatre. He was about to tell a story which he said had been told by his friend Kate Douglas Wiggin, when from the players, looking out at him from the wings and entrances to he set, applause came. Mr. Clemens looked about, puzzled for a moment, when a young woman, entering by the left upper entrance into full view of the audience, went quite close to him and began to talk to him in an undertone.
"I must apologize," said Mr. Clemens.
Again the young woman said something in a tone not audible to those in front.
Anxious to Tell His Story.
"I only want to tell this story and then I'll stop," Mr. Clemens said to her.
After he had told a story about a Negro who had got a marriage license with the wrong woman's name on it, and had then decided to marry that woman rather than pay two dollars for a new license "as there wasn't two dollars' difference between the two women," he left the stage and the curtain was lowered.
The speech that had been interrupted began in a vein of family reminiscence.
"I have not enjoyed a play so much, so heartily, and so thoroughly," said the author, "since I played Miles Hendon twenty-two years ago. I used to play in this piece with my children, who, twenty-two years ago, were little youngsters. One of my daughters was the Prince, and a neighbor's daughter was the Pauper, and the children of other neighbors played other parts. But we never gave such a performance as we have seen here today. It would have been beyond us.
"My late wife was the dramatist and stage manager. Our coachman was the stage manager, second in command. We used to play it in this simple way, and the one who used to bring in the crown on a cushion - he was a little fellow then - is now a clergyman way up high - six or seven feet high - and growing higher all the time. We played it well, but not as well as you see it here, for you see it done by practically trained professionals.
Never Remembered His Part.
"I was especially interested in the scene which we have just had, for Miles Hendon was my part. I did it as well as a person could who never remembered his part. The children all knew their parts. They did not mind if I did not know mine. I could thread a needle nearly as well as the player did whom you saw today. The words of my part I could supply on the spot. The words of the song that Miles Hendon sang here I did not catch. But I was great in that song."
Then Mr. Clemens hummed a bit of doggerel that the reporter made out as this:
There was a woman in her town,
She loved her husband well,
But she loved another man just twice as well.
"How is that?" demanded Mr. Clemens. Then resuming:
"It was so fresh and enjoyable to make up a new set of words each time that I played the part.
"If l had a thousand citizens in front of me, I would like to give them information, but you children already know all that I have found out about the Educational Alliance. It's like a man living within thirty miles of Vesuvius and never knowing about a volcano. It's like living for a lifetime in Buffalo, eighteen miles from Niagara, and never going to see the Falls. So I had lived in New York and knew nothing about the Educational Alliance.
"This theater is a part of the work, and furnishes pure and clean plays. This theater is an influence. Everything in the world is accomplished by influences which train and educate. When you get to be seventy-one and a half, as I am, you may think that your education is over, but it isn't.
Theatres Public Education
"If we had forty theaters of this kind in this city of 4,000,000, how they would educate and elevate! We should have a body of educated theater-goers.
"It would make better citizens, honest citizens. One of the best gifts a millionaire could make would be a theater here and a theater there. It would make of you a real Republic, and bring about an educational level.
Then Mr. Clemens went on to quote from a speech of Kate Douglas Wiggin, when he was interrupted.
In the cast of "The Prince and the Pauper," the performance of which Mr. Clemens watched closely and frequently applauded, there were three young women - scarcely more than girls - who shone. Rhoda Rosenblum played Tom Canty, the pauper boy who by force of circumstances changes his station with Prince Edward, with a touch of ingenuousness that was spontaneous.
The small part of Nan Canty, Tom's sister undertaken by Sara E. Novick, a girl with humorous natural methods, was heartily applauded, while Helen H. Schwartz, as the Prince, sketched well the range of her role.
Return to The New York Times
Quotations | Newspaper Articles | Special Features | Links | Search