The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Mark Twain's Spirit Refuses To Die

By Betsy Mikel in Arts & Entertainment on May 27, 2010 8:40PM

Is this the real Mark Twain or Richards as Mark Twain?
Mark Twain's autobiography apparently reveals several juicy and candid details about his life. But very few people have read it. He asked that it not be published until a century after he died. The 100th anniversary of Twain's death just passed in April, so the University of California, Berkley is removing the manuscript from their vault and is publishing the first volume of the trilogy this November. The Independent reports that Twain left 5,000 unedited pages, and more than half of edited trilogy will be new material that has never been published.

For fans of the beloved American author, November is a long time to wait. Don't fret. Chicago actor Chick Richards is performing a one-man show titled Trouble Begins at 8:00! Mark Twain in Wicker Park tonight and through this weekend. It’s inspired by Mark Twain Tonight!, a one-man Hal Holbrook play from the ‘50s. To commemorate the 100-year anniversary of Twain’s death, Richards said he decided to finally move his performance from the tinkering stage to the actual stage. He booked the Wicker Park Art Center, and got his act together

Trouble Begins at 8:00! Mark Twain is straightforward. The subject is Mark Twain. The actor is Richards. The props are a stool and a podium. The play is 15 scenes and two hours long. “It’s the material that makes it live,” said Richards, “and hopefully my delivery.” Whereas Holbrook had to put some work into his costume (he allegedly kept a collection of Twain noses in his fridge), Richards is lucky enough to be a Mark Twain look-a-like. He’s been working the material for this performance for four years and acting for 50, so even though we haven’t seen the play, we can guarantee the cast is very dedicated.

Aside from this weekend’s performance, Trouble Begins at 8:00! Mark Twain is also running at No Exit Café in Rogers Park on June 4 and 5, as well as various venues in Wisconsin this summer.

Trouble Begins at 8:00! Mark Twain, Wicker Park Art Center, 2215 W. North Ave., May 27 - May 29 at 8 p.m. and May 30 at 3 p.m., Tickets via Brown Paper Tickets, $9-12