Being Mark Twain

By Forrest Sanders | 

Life on the Mississippi... A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court... and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Those are just a few titles by Samuel Clemmons, a man you know better as Mark Twain.

Readers have always enjoyed his down home wisdom, but for the last month, a man in Horse Cave has allowed audiences to actually spend an evening with Mark Twain.

Mark Twain once said, "Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been."

And Robert Brock's performance as Twain has been bringing a lot of smiles to the Kentucky Repertory Theatre.

"This is the closing show. We started July 5 and this will be the 21st show," Brock said.

Brock's one man performance is a tribute to the first great American author and it borrows from Twain's deep pool of work.

"Funny stuff, sad stuff, bitter stuff. It's just to show the whole gamut of the man," Brock explained.

But for Brock to play Twain, it takes a dramatic transformation.

"People say that they have a hard time seeing me at all once I become Mark Twain," said Brock.

The process starts an hour before the show when the first member of the audience arrives for a ticket. And by the time Brock dons the famous overcoat and tie, the crowd's ready for the lights to dim.

But the demand for tickets has ensured that this one man show will some day continue. And for the next show, Brock is going back to the books.

"You could put together about 80 different shows and they'd all work just fine because there's so much to draw from his writing," Brock said.

For his next round of performances, Brock plans to take his act on the road. He says he'd like to perform as Mark Twain at both performing arts centers and universities.

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