Wednesday morning, the East Room at the Altus Public Library was filled with fans eagerly waiting to hear the words of Mark Twain, the author of many beloved American novels such as “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court,” as portrayed by James Doores.
Bringing to life the opinions of the world in Twain’s witty, satirist’s way, Doores dressed in a white linen suit, wild white hairstyle, and distinguished moustache presented a remarkably close likeness to the late author.
Having memorized more than four hours of material, Doores is able to fit his subject matter with the occasion. He brought a mixture of lighthearted and contemplative subjects to a room represented by all ages.
Twain, a printer’s apprentice turned newspaper reporter, left school at the age of 12 when his father died. He grew up in Hannibal, Mississippi, where he met the inspirations for his most famous characters.
“I drew from children I knew for Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn,” Doores as Twain said. “Even Becky Thatcher was my girlfriend. She just didn’t always know it.”
Samuel Clemens took on the pseudonym, Mark Twain, drawing from his experiences as a river pilot. The term “mark twain” means that a distance of two fathoms is safe to navigate.
He spoke on religion, patriotism, war, and governments from Twain’s thought-provoking perspective.
“Man is the only animal that blushes,” Twain said. “And the only one that needs to.”
An attorney, Doores has used his oratory skills outside of the courtroom to bring Twain back to life for the generations of readers who have known and are discovering Twain’s works and life for 40 years.
Doores’ role in portraying Twain began in 1966 when he saw actor Harold Rowe “Hal” Holbrook Jr. portraying Twain. Doores was so interested in what he learned about the author that he began reading his works.
Eleven years later, in 1977, Doores, a member of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, was asked to introduce the president of the organization at a meeting. That night, Doores decided he would dress as Mark Twain to do the introduction. It was such a success that the president did not have enough time to speak after the oration of Samuel Clemens.
During his portrayal, Doores, commented on the creation of the earth and mankind’s importance, or lack thereof, in the world while making light of his bad habits of over-eating and smoking, complete with his very own unlit cigar.
“Neglecting one’s habits,” Twain said, “Makes one like a sinking ship without freight to toss overboard.”
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