By Norris Ledyard
April 2, 2014
FAYETTE - The story of how the American writer Samuel Clements aka Mark Twain and President Theodore Roosevelt brought a 21st century presidential scholar, a nationally-syndicated illustrator and an university scholar/collector together to produce a play that places these two personalities on stage for an “imagined” debate, is the topic of a panel discussion to be held at the Fayette Opera House this coming Friday, April 4. The doors will open at 6 p.m. with the discussion beginning at 7 p.m.
The panel discussion features the play’s creator, Dr. Jan Younger, collector and department chair, Dr. Doug Collar of Heidelberg University and illustrator Polly Keener, in a conversation about the life and times of both of these American icons.
The program is the introduction to a three performance production of the play, “As Different as a Frog and a Grizzly,” to be held on Thursday May 1 at 1 p.m. (Law Day special event), Friday, May 2 at 7 p.m. and again on Sunday, May 4 for a 3 p.m. matinee production. The panel, as well as the play, is a part of the newly inaugurated Steinem-Nyce Series.
The series is designed to stimulate “Civil Conversations: Civic Engagement” at the local level, as dedicated to the Steinem-Nyce Series. Series collaborators, the Bean Creek Valley History Center and the Fayette Arts Council, noted that in an age that has experienced increased polarization, it is important to recognize that different perspectives and opinions are a part of this country’s local and national tradition.
“Mark Twain and Theodore Roosevelt certainly did not share the same view on every issue, but their collective influence on defining the American character is profound,” said Opera House Director, Tom Spiess. Producers stated that the Steinem-Nyce Series is not simply about panels and performances; it is about the discussions and conversations that follow those events.
“We want people to reopen conversations about issues that impact our daily lives,” said Spiess. “Over the years, our post-concert receptions and conversations have become a trademark of our programming efforts,” he continued. “We want to build on that tradition.”
Following the hour long panel discussion, the audience will be encouraged to ask questions of all panel members. In addition there will be a special exhibition of the works of illustrator, Polly Keener in the University Gallery of the Opera House. The panel event is free and open to the public.
A free will donation will be collected with all proceeds directed to the support of the Steinem-Nyce Series and education outreach programs. As always, a reception will follow the panel discussion. For ticket information, please check out the opera house’s web site at www.operahouse-fayette.org or call (419) 237-3111 and leave your ticket request.