When it comes to theatrical source material, it's hard to top Mark Twain. The legendary American writer was known for his insightful social commentary, satire and humor.
Twain gave his satiric voice a workout in his stories “Adam's Diary” and “Eve's Diary.”
Although based on the familiar story from Genesis, the works maintain Twain's modern humorous edge. Twain wrote multiple versions of the two diaries, which were eventually published together.
“The Diaries of Adam and Eve” is a two-person one-act play edited and adapted for the stage by David Birney based on Twain's works. It is also ideally suited for a reader's theater production, which is how Community Light Opera And Theatre Association (CLOTA) is planning to stage its upcoming version of the play, which starts Feb. 9. The production also serves as a fundraiser for the organization.
“Its basically a play that takes on the creation of Adam and Eve from their perspective,” director Josh Cotterell said. He added that the play is “comedically done.” The characters interact with each other but mainly verbalize what they are writing in their diaries.
Cotterell is working with veteran actors Ben Bockhahn as Adam and Brianne Hardwick as Eve. He said the actors are going the extra mile and memorizing parts of the script rather than just reading it. Hardwick said she is absolutely looking forward to the show and described it as “a lot of fun.”
This is Cotterell's first time directing for CLOTA. Local audiences may be familiar with him, though. He has acted as well as done tech jobs behind the scenes for numerous productions.
He said he is looking forward to the challenge of interpreting the words from the page onto the stage as a director.
“I enjoy taking the words in the script and putting my vision to those words. Because everybody when they read something, their vision is different.”
Clearly, Mark Twain was not afraid of taking on big-ticket themes in his work. His work “Letters from the Earth” includes Satan's perspective.
Given Twain's iconic reputation, what does Cotterell think is the meaning of the play?
“I think really it is kind of lighthearted,” Cotterell said. “Everybody reads the bible and each version has its own interpretation.
“I think this is Mark Twain's interpretation of 'if I were Adam and Eve, what would I be telling the world? Being the only human on earth, not even knowing I'm human, how would I convey my experience?'”
The play is being billed as “a reader's theater comedy performance,” just in time for Valentine's Day.
“I think CLOTA took this for the Valentines Day production because its the first two people discovering each other, falling in love, discovering what that is,” Cotterell said.
Showtimes are Feb. 9 and 10, 7:30 p.m, at CLOTA Center Stage, 1425 N. Inyo St. Tickets are available for $10 at Red Rock Books, 206 W. Ridgecrest Blvd.