Thursdays-Saturdays May 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 2014
Doors: 7:00p | Curtain: 7:30p | Tickets: $10
Sundays May 4 & 11, 2014
Doors: 1:30p | Curtain: 2:00p | Tickets: $10
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BEN FRANKLIN: AN INGENIOUS LIFE is a one-man play in two acts (approximately 90 minutes with intermission). The audience becomes a visitor to Franklin’s Philadelphia home during the late-1780’s and hears him reflect on his life, accomplishments and a glimpse at what made him a visionary. The play is drawn from Franklin’s autobiography, letters, essays and public utterances, and includes quotes from his contemporaries such as Voltaire, Thomas Paine, and Thomas Jefferson.
Franklin had only two years of formal education, but the play explores how his life was shaped by a “curious spirit,” a voracious appetite for reading, and a father who improved the minds of his children with “useful topics for discourse.” We learn that Franklin’s beatings at the hands of his older brother, while he served as a printing apprentice, help shape his aversion to arbitrary power. While there are the familiar aphorisms from Poor Richard’s Almanack such as, A penny saved is a penny earned, or Haste makes waste, Franklin’s advice on education (The only thing more expensive than education is ignorance.) and the public policy consequences of neglecting freed slaves echo to our own time.
Indeed, Franklin’s cautionary words to the Constitutional Convention about the struggle for power and money and the fact that those who would “strive for this preeminence will not be the wise moderate,” offer a backdrop to current political dysfunction.
As a printer/author Franklin’s playful side is on display in his advice to young men to prefer an older woman for a mistress, or the “Speech of Miss Polly Baker” prosecuted for having a bastard child, or in his request to the American Philosophical Society that they should offer a prize to anyone “who can discover some drug to be mixed with our food that shall render the natural discharges of wind from our bodies, not only inoffensive, but agreeable as perfumes.”
Although Franklin died nearly 225 years ago, audiences for the play will come away with an appreciation of his impact on our nation’s history, universal truths that carry through time, and a fuller sense of his remarkable and ingenious life.
BEN FRANKLIN: AN INGENIOUS LIFE is written and performed by Ray Flynt. Ray is well known in the Erie area for his involvement with the Erie Playhouse having served as president of their Board during the 1983 acquisition of the Strand Theater on 10th Street. He is a veteran of more than 65 theatrical productions and has portrayed Ben Franklin in the musical 1776 in productions in Erie, Harrisburg, and Annapolis, MD.
During his years in Erie, Ray served as executive director of the Erie Arts Council, was a planner for the Northwest Region of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, and taught in the Criminal Justice program at Mercyhurst University. He holds his Masters in Public Administration from Gannon University. Ray recently retired after more than sixteen years as president of the Washington, DC-based Travelers Aid International. A member of Mystery Writers of America, Ray is the author of the Brad Frame mysteries and KISSES OF AN ENEMY, a political thriller.