Stutts to Perform 'Mark Twain's America' at UNA April 23
Apr. 8, 2010
FLORENCE, Ala. – Fans of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer can see their creator, Mark Twain, at the University of North Alabama for a one-night show later this month. UNA alumnus Will Stutts, one of the nation’s premier one-person show actors, will perform “Mark Twain’s America” at 7 p.m. April 23 in Norton Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.
“Mark Twain’s America” is being presented by the UNA Distinguished Events Series and the public libraries of the Shoals as part of The Big Read. The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Arts Midwest. This project has been made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Stutts’s “Mark Twain’s America” is the show that started his career in theatre in 1968, when, as a student at UNA, he was asked to perform the character in an American literature class. Within two years, Stutts had extended the material and performed the show numerous times for college, high school and community groups throughout the Southeast.
After graduating from UNA, Stutts left his native Alabama, attended the prestigious Yale University School of Drama, then went on to live in New York and Los Angeles, beginning an eclectic career in theatre throughout the country.
And yet, his Mark Twain has remained a regular touring vehicle in his roster of one-person plays for 42 consecutive years, amassing more than 1,000 single engagements in 40 states and Canada. The historic steamboat the Delta Queen, the New Orleans World’s Fair and the national television commercial for Olivetti typewriters are just a few of the stages where he has performed as Twain.
Several years ago, attendance counting for “Mark Twain’s America” ceased when the count crossed 1 million who had seen the show.
Stutts has performed in scores of roles in addition to directing at most of America’s regional theatres. He has also performed on Broadway with Colleen Dewhurst in “Queen and the Rebels,” George C. Scott in “Present Laughter,” Agnes Moorehead and Will Geer in “Spoon River Anthology,” Richard Chamberlain in “Night of the Iguana” and “Richard II,” and Eva Marie Saint in “Summer and Smoke.”
An Alabama native, Stutts performed the role of Atticus in the stage version of “To Kill a Mockingbird” on national tour in addition to 12 other productions of the play across the country.
As producing artistic director, he has led the Los Angeles Shakespeare Company, Actors’ Theatre of Philadelphia, South Jersey Regional Theatre and the Gateway and Mt. Gretna playhouses. He is currently serving in the same capacity at UNA for the university’s Summer Theatre Program.
As a playwright, Stutts has written 16 one-person plays, including “Frank Lloyd Wright,” which was nominated for the Barrymore Award for Best New Play of 1996.
His multi-character plays include “The Gift” (about Harper Lee and Truman Capote and the origins of “To Kill a Mockingbird”) and “Oscar Wilde’s Lover,” which was selected for inclusion in “Best Plays” in 1999.
Stutts lives in suburban Philadelphia.