For more than half a century, Hal Holbrook has played the role of Mark Twain, which he will bring to the Springer Opera House stage Friday night.
Holbrook, who will be 92 in two weeks and is a star of stage and screen, has strong political views similar to Twain, a 19th century American writer, publisher, lecturer, humorist and entrepreneur.
During a recent 30-minute interview in advance of the Columbus show, Holbrook did not shy away from his political views about President Donald Trump.
“We have a very imperfect world,” he said. “We have this guy who has been elected president now who is upending and destroying a great many of our American values, and he is claiming they are our values. That’s his claim and he can live with it. It’s not my claim. I have a lot of problems with what he’s trying to do to distort the American dream, which he’s doing every hour of the day.”
Holbrook, like many Americans, watched the protests over the weekend to the president’s immigration ban.
“I was very happy to see that the American people have stood up against him on this recent thing, with the immigration thing,” he said. “I mean, good grief man. Are you going to take the Statue of Liberty and throw it in the ocean? That’s disgusting.”
Less than 100 tickets remain for “Mark Twain Tonight,” a show Holbrook has been doing since the 1950s. He said his third Columbus performance of the play will be topical.
“I constantly add material for years, as I think you know, to where I have a tremendous amount of material,” he said. “What I do now is try to choose material that has something to say about what is going on in our world, and in our country, and in the cosmic mind of America.”
And that world is not perfect, Holbrook said.
“Racism has always been present in the show, because it has never changed,” he said. “We are a racist nation. There’s no use in kidding around about it, pretending, or saying, ‘Oh we’re going to church and they were wonderful.’ I think it was Mark Twain who said there was only one Christian. We crucified him. That’s a Twain quote. ... Anybody who goes striding around thinking they’re perfect is crazy.”
Holbrook’s stage character, Twain, didn’t back down from a fight with a politician. And if Twain were around in today’s tumultuous political climate, he would still be a relevant American voice, Holbrook said.
“What makes Twain relevant is writing about people,” Holbrook said. “... The people, that’s you and me, we have not changed. We haven’t changed one damn bit. If you think we’ve changed, you’re kidding yourself. We’re just as hard-headed; we’re just as suspicious of other people as we ever were.”