(Hollywood Forever) Religion supposedly does not mix with science or politics. Even worse, religion may be, at best, a distant thought in Hollywood – unless, of course, one views Christian Science and other newer religions as valid schools of thought. Then there is Mark Twain who, despite his Presbyterian background, would have taken critical issue with any of the above. In fact, Twain did have his opinionated takes on politics, the sciences and, yes, Christian Science. Some of the acclaimed author’s thoughts and views will be coming back to life this week, more than 100 years after his death, when Val Kilmer brings his one-man show, Citizen Twain, to the historic Masonic Lounge at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery from March 30th to April 11th.
Making a name for himself on the big screen in films such as Top Gun, Tombstone, Batman Forever, and Heat, Mr. Kilmer will be taking the stage as Samuel Langhorne Clemens himself, developing a one-man act that “delves into the heart and soul of Samuel Clemens and conjures forth the great spirit of Mark Twain, America's greatest storyteller.”
According to the press notes, Citizen Twain is “deeply entertaining, with great wit, song, and prose; the play weaves Mr. Twain's biographical themes into a play that proclaims and takes joy in the marvel of words which, as Twain says in the play, ‘form the ladder to my heaven.’”
Mr. Kilmer is making his return to the stage after starring in several off-Broadway performances such as Henry IV Part I, The Slab Boys, and Tis Pity She’s a Whore. Among his most renowned Los Angeles theatrical performances was his rendition of Moses in The Ten Commandments: The Spectacle Musical. Serving as the show’s writer, director, and actor, Mr. Kilmer set Citizen Twain in the Gilded Age of America and presents Mr. Twain’s relationship with Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy. It has been widely circulated that Twain was one of Ms. Eddy’s most ardent critics since she founded the controversial school of thought in 1879, but despite the contrast in personalities and the fact they never met in person, there was more than met the eye in the duo’s relationship.
Interestingly enough, Mr. Kilmer himself is a devout Christian Scientist. In portraying one of Ms. Eddy's most ardent critics, Mr. Kilmer's portrayal or Mr. Twain will shed new interpretive light on a debate that is more than 130 years old. Whether Mr. Kilmer intertwines his personal views into the biographical sketch is irrelevant, as the acclaimed screen and stage actor sets to explain the very core of the friction between Mr. Twain and Ms. Eddy. Even more, with Citizen Twain categorized as an actor workshop, Mr. Kilmer may be refining a story he laboriously crafted to fit within a bigger context: a planned film entitled Mark Twain and Mary Baker Eddy (2013).
In bringing the Twain-Eddy relationship to the stage via Citizen Twain, Mr. Kilmer continues the theatrical legacy long associated with Samuel Clemens. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has played out on many a stage for nearly a century. The most recent one-man stage production of Mark Twain by an acclaimed actor was by Tony Award-winner and Oscar-nominated actor Hal Holbrook, who brought the American storyteller to life as in Mark Twain Tonight! in 2010.
Beyond Hollywood Forever, a slice of Citizen Twain will be on display at the All In For The 99% event hosted by Rebuild the Dream, MoveOn.Org Civic Action, Courage Campaign, and the SEIU. Audiences can grab a sneak peek of Mr. Kilmer's workshop at the cultural awareness event that "unites art, music and activism to create awareness, discussion and enthusiasm for the issues that inspired the 99% movement." While the event begins at 10:30 a.m. on March 31st at the Ace Museum (400 S. La Brea in L.A.) with a live DJ, short film screenings, and an art exhibition, Citizen Twain will headline the SLAKE Magazine readings at 3:00 p.m.
After Mr. Kilmer's reading of Citizen Twain at All In For The 99%, he returns to Hollywood Forever for the full rendition of his workshop at 8 p.m.
'Citizen Twain' debuts on Friday, March 30, 2012 at 8:00 p.m. and runs for eight shows total. The Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery is located at 6000 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90038. Information of the show’s schedule or tickets can be viewed here. Doors open one hour before curtain. Tickets are $60 each; free parking is available on-site.