Panel to discuss Mark Twain and Theodore Roosevelt 2014.04.02


How did the writer Samuel Clements (Mark Twain) and President Theodore Roosevelt bring together a 21st century Presidential Scholar, a nationally syndicated illustrator and an university scholar/collector to produce a play that places these two American personalities on stage for an “imagined” debate? That's the topic of a panel discussion scheduled at 7 p.m. Friday at the Fayette Opera House.  The doors will open at 6 p.m.

The panel discussion features the play’s creator, Dr. Jan Younger, its illustrator, Polly Keener, and Collector and Department Chair Dr. Doug Collar of Heidelberg University in a conversation about the life and times of both of these American icons.

The program is the introduction to a three performance production of the play “As Different as a Frog and a Grizzly” scheduled Thursday May 1, Friday, May 2 and again on Sunday, May 4.

The panel, as well as the play, is a part of the newly inaugurated Steinem-Nyce Series. The series is designed to stimulate “civil conversations” that lead to “civic engagement” at the local level.

Series collaborators—the Bean Creek Valley History Center and the Fayette Arts Council—intend to address the following issue: In an age that has experienced increased polarization, it is important to recognize that different perspectives and opinions are a part of our local and national tradition.

“Mark Twain and Theodore Roosevelt certainly did not share the same view on every issue, but their collective influence on defining the American character is profound” said Opera House Director, Tom Spiess.

The Steinem-Nyce Series is not simply about panels and performances; it is about the discussions and conversations that follow those events.

“We want people to reopen conversations about issues that impact our daily lives," Spiess said. “Over the years, our post-concert receptions and conversations have become a trademark of our programming efforts. We want to build on that tradition.”

Following the hour-long panel discussion, the audience will be encouraged to ask questions of all panel members.

In addition there will be a special exhibition of the works of illustrator Polly Keener in the University Gallery of the Opera House.

The panel event is free and open to the public.  A free-will donation will be collected with all proceeds directed to the support of the Steinem-Nyce Series and educational outreach programs.

A reception will follow the panel discussion.

For ticket information, call 419/237-3111 and leave your ticket request. For additional information, visit the Arts Council website at

The panel and play are funded in part by an Ohio Humanities Grant.