SOUNDING THE RIVER; HUCK FINN REVISITED
ADAPTED BY EDWARD MORGAN
I began this play with a belief, a book, and a simple idea. The belief was this: America was born as the land of the free and the home of the slave. It’s a painfully ironic legacy, but it’s at the core of who we are.
The book was The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Two runaways in the wilderness – a black man and a white trash teenager – drifting south on a makeshift raft. Is there a more brilliant journey into that legacy?
The idea was this: Huck Finn is a masterpiece, but also controversial; because of its truth because of its age, and because we’re always seeing Jim through the ignorant eyes of Huck. So why not retell the tale, and watch it through the eyes of Huck and Jim?
And so, as if by magic, they sprang to life: Old Huck and Old Jim. They came to revisit their story; each with a different point of view. Their dialogue became a foreground to the adventures. Til gradually, the ground began to move.
But there had to be music! American music is a river of black and white streams intermingling. So we conjured musicians – an Old Time singer, a Fiddler, and a Bluesman – yet another dialogue of black and white.
And the spirits began to sing – past and present, serious and comical, young and old, black and white, masters and slaves, liars and truth tellers – resonating up and down the river. I just kept trying to take it all in and stay afloat.
Finally, I’d like to thank Mr. Twain for the loan of one antique raft. Without it, I’d have washed up all wet.
“A beautifully produced and well-acted world premiere production.
Perhaps because [Morgan] was not trying to write a straight adaptation of the book, the play works much better than many attempts to transfer the page to the stage
The production achieves a fluidity largely due to Morgan’s shrewd use of period music - old country, blues and spirituals - to connect the scenes.
Sharp, clear and sure-handed acting from the entire cast provides the richly colored portrait of river life created by Twain and re-created by Morgan. Starting with the first appearance of the “Huckleberry Finn” characters rising through a fog-enshrouded trap door, Morgan the director gives the piece a strong theatricality.”
– Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Lights: Robert Jared
Costumes: Martha Hally
Set: Kent Dorsey
Sound: Stephen LeGrand
Music Arranger / Director: Chic Streetman
Fights: Lee E. Ernst
Dialect: Pamela Christian