Warren Brown as Mark Twain
Sponsored by the East Baton Rouge Parish Library
The East Baton Rouge Public Library's One Book, One Community program, a public reading project now in its eleventh year, will focus on Mark Twain's 1883 classic Life on the Mississippi, a review of the river’s history and a memoir that recounts Twain’s life on it. Twain and his work will be celebrated with programs both at the Library and in the wider community, giving folks the chance to interact with one of America’s greatest authors. The literary to-do kicks off February 11 at 6 pm, with a free family friendly event at the Main Library at Goodwood. It is open to the public. There will be period music performed by James Linden Hogg, games for children, catfish, a Mississippi Mud cakewalk, and other activities, of course. But the headliner is Mark Twain impersonator Warren Brown, a nationally recognized Chautauqua performer.
Brown has been performing as Twain for over twenty years. He began his career in manufacturing; but, like many Americans, found himself looking for other work as the economy changed. Inspired by his volunteer work in adult literacy and tutoring, both important to him because of the special needs of his own son, Brown decided to find ways to get kids excited about literacy. This, along with his own deep admiration for Twain, gave rise to a performing life that, two decades later, has resulted in 1,200 performances, including a two-week tour of the western Pacific’s Northern Mariana Islands performed with an actor portraying Twain's friend Theodore Roosevelt.
Brown used to memorize his performances, but years of studying and embodying Twain have allowed him to take a freer approach, changing his content to suit the occasion and answering audience questions accurately and in character. Mark Twain is one of the most researched figures in American history—up there with the founders and the major figures of the Civil War—so there's always new information into which Brown can delve to further develop and refine his already deep and impressive characterization.
At the kickoff party, one of the many events planned to celebrate Baton Rouge’s two hundredth birthday, expect to see not Brown, but Twain mingling with attendees after giving his talk. The experience is sure to be a memorable window into the life not only of a great American writer, but also a great American character—in every sense of the word.
To keep track of events and to access reading guides for children and adults, along with other supplementary information on Twain and Life on the Mississippi, visit ebrpl.libguides.com/twain or call (225) 231-3750. The kickoff event on February 11 is one of many across the community this year celebrating the city-parish’s two-hundredth birthday. For more information about the bicentennial, visit BatonRouge200.com.