Join the Haddonfield Friends of the Library for an evening or matinee with Mark Twain and Frederick Douglass on Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. or Nov. 8 at 1:30 p.m. at Grace Episcopal Church’s Performance Hall auditorium. Bring your family to this unique and funny historical play and support the Friends of the Library.
Tickets are $20 and are on sale at the Haddonfield Public Library annex at 123 Kings Highway East, online at www.marktwainstravelingtheatre.com/ or at the door at each performance.
The play begins with Frederick Douglass, abolitionist and orator, visiting his friend Mark Twain, author and humorist, backstage during intermission of a typical Twain Lecture. This is a lecture with the customary readings, discussions and rants.
Yes, Mark Twain and Frederick Douglass are friends. They first met in the parlor of the Langdon home in Elmira, N.Y. Twain, the dissolute journalist, was courting and soon succeeded in marrying Olivia Langdon. Twain went from smitten to civilized in very short order, civilized by his association to Olivia, her family and friends.
For some time and well prior to this meeting, the Langdon family was staunchly abolitionist, abolitionist at a time when the Fugitive Slave Act made this a remarkably courageous stand. They had opened their home to countless runaway slaves and it was an active way station on the Underground Railroad.
Having solved this mystery, we return to Mark and Fred. It is a small literary invention to have Fred Douglass visit his friend Mark Twain backstage as Twain is flogging his new book “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” In a minor forgivable fiction, the play has Mark Twain inviting Douglass to join him on stage to lecture.
The rest is, as they say, history. And what a history! It is history with humor and insight rather than just dry facts and dates.
Through this device we witness the entwined history of Abraham Lincoln, U.S. Grant, Harriet Beecher Stow, Douglass and Twain.