Mark Twain’s Is He Dead?

as adapted by David Ives
directed by Brian Hansen

American humorist Mark Twain is best known for his novels about life on the Mississippi, but he also had a good deal to say about European manners and morals. In Is He Dead?, a farce, written in 1898 but lost until it was discovered in his papers in 2004, Twain takes a swing at the international art scene as he found it. With his fine eye for absurdity, Twain creates a financially strapped painter who, realizing that his worth won’t be appreciated until after his death, decides to speed things up a little. With the help of his rapscallion friends, he fakes his own death.  Imagine the complications when the “dead” artist has to return to paint more of his now expensive masterpieces, something which he does in the guise of his own twin (!) sister. Twain’s fertile imagination multiplies those complications until the play reaches its “jumping over the furniture” conclusion.

Brian Hansen who recently directed  Is Life Worth Living? and The Jewel in the Manuscript at The Adobe will be giving Twain’s overlooked masterpiece its first New Mexico production. Look for many of the 19th Century theatre conventions so familiar to Twain – music, moving scenery, footlights, and actors’ asides to the audience. “It will be a total romp,” says Hansen.

The large cast includes many actors well-known to The Adobe audiences  – Jennifer Benoit, Adrienne Cox, Teresa Kizziah, Ned Record, Tyler Strand, Rick Wiles, Michael Weppler. Newcomer Malcolm Loungway plays the increasing desperate artist.


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