Portraying Mark Twain has provided Warren Brown with opportunities for jaunts to the past
Thursday, April 24, 2003 The Star
By Rena Fulka
Warren Brown is a man of opportunity and interaction.
A former corporate manager, he makes his living portraying 19th century storyteller and humorist Mark Twain.
Dressed in a white suit, seersucker vest and black bow tie, he steps into character for “Catch the Twain,” now seven years in the running.
“I’ve had so much fun with this,” says Brown, who put his one-man show together after several corporate layoffs.
“In talking to people as Mark Twain, I can start to think like the man.”
Mark Twain is a pen name for Samuel Clemens, author of 40,000 personal letters, numerous short stories and 17 novels, including “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.”
Time travel and utopian life were among the many subjects Clemens explored during the late 1800s in his works.
“Samuel Clemens impacted his world in his day,” Brown says.
“He spoke out against injustice and for women’s right to vote. And he spoke out against war.
“He was a student all the time, and he knew, through education, that anyone could accomplish whatever they wanted to accomplish.”
Brown prepared for his on-the-road Twain role by reading the bulk of Clemens’ writings. During his portrayals, he strives to bring a snippet of the past to his present-day audience.
And that’s exactly what he says he’d do if he could visit Clemens and other historic figures via time travel.
“I would come prepared with pre-thought-out questions, but I would not expect to stay back in time,” the literacy advocate says.
“I would visit to take the wisdom and knowledge and the things they had to say back home with me to explore and to write about.”
The Park Forest resident’s interactive travel list certainly is a lengthy one.
It includes Jesus Christ, Buddha and other great religious leaders. Mother Teresa. Albert Einstein. Abraham Lincoln and other great political leaders. And people from the very beginning of time.
If it were possible for him to board a time travel machine, Brown says he would make some stipulations of his own.
“I would like to think I could make a short journey on a daily basis, because I couldn’t displace my friends and my family,” says this father of three grown children.
“And it would be hard to leave if you couldn’t take those you love with you.”
Brown says daily jaunts to eras past might present learning experiences that go well beyond the tombs, and possibly provide lessons for the world at large.
And if he could, the South Side native with a degree in finance says he’d wish for a little magic as well.
“I like to think we could wave a magic wand and be cured of all our ills and evils,” he says.
“I always like to think that we’re striving to improve on civilization.”
Rena Fulka may be reached at (708) 802-8829 or
via e-mail at [email protected].