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Center for Mark Twain Studies Presents Dan Hoyle


Recent books by Richard Zacks and Judith Yaross Lee (who will be giving the final lecture of the fall season of Trouble Begins at Eight on November 2nd) have emphasized Mark Twain’s unprecedented performance style. Twain abandoned the self-serious moralizing of popular antebellum lecturers, but also demurred from seeking easy laughs like slapstick vaudevillians. Next week, on October 27th at 7:00 PM, CMTS welcomes a contemporary performer who, like Twain, blends talents as a journalist, comedian, actor, and social critic into a unique and innovative genre of solo performance.

Dan Hoyle calls his method “journalistic theatre,” as he draws equally from familial training in theater (his father, Geoff Hoyle, appeared on Broadway productions like The Lion King, Hollywood movies like Popeye, and as a clown for Cirque Du Soleil) and academic training in communications and history at Northwestern University. Hoyle’s productions are based upon lengthy research excursions to Nigeria, India, the Bronx, and the American South. He reverentially casts the people he meets as characters who he brings to life with humor, eloquence, and a truly rare gift for impersonation. Hoyle’s solo shows, as well as his writing and acting for other collaborations, have been critically acclaimed, winning numerous grants and prizes. Most recently he has been named an Artist-in-Residence at the Heyman Center for the Humanities at Columbia University.

On October 27th, Hoyle will perform The Real Americans. Inspired by Sarah Palin’s infamously loaded references to “real America” during the 2008 campaign. Hoyle originally researched, wrote, and performed The Real Americans in 2010. But, during the 2016 campaign season, Hoyle recognized resurgent demand for the show, which he revised for recent runs in New York City, San Francisco, Portland, and Chapel Hill. Hoyle’s performance attempts to represent and, to a degree, reconcile the divisions between self-satisfied urbanites and the sometimes close-minded citizens of the so-called flyover states. Hoyle provokes both communities to laugh at each other and themselves. As Huffington Post’‘s Jim Taylor says, “It left me with just a smidgeon of hope for civility, respect and communication across the ideological chasm.”

If you would benefit from a smidgeon of hope for civility less than two weeks before Election Day, please join Dan and CMTS at Gibson Theatre on the Elmira College campus next Thursday at 7:00 PM. This event is free and open to the public. It has been generously co-sponsored by Student Life, with additional support from the Honors Program and EC Octagon.

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