It’s almost time for our next production, Huck Finn, a play based on the classic Mark Twain novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. We’ve assembled some special information to help you and your family to get ready for the upcoming performance.
Before you go to the show, you might want to take a few moments to review this “Know Before You Go” Guide so everyone will know what to expect from the performance!
The Story You Will See
Huck Finn has been living with the Widow Douglas and her sister, Miss Watson, in the town of St. Petersburg, Missouri. They have been trying to “sivilize” him with proper dress and manners and raise him as a proper Christian boy. He finds this life of trying to be “Good” constraining and would rather live free and wild.
When Huck’s father hears that the boy has come into a wealthy new family situation, Pap threatens Huck and demands money. To avoid his father’s cruelty, Huck elaborately stages his own death and then escapes
to Jackson’s Island. There he finds Jim, Miss Watson’s runaway slave, on the island, and the two decide to hide out together.
To avoid danger of discovery, they decide to run away and float down the river on a raft that Jim makes. Sleeping during the day and traveling at night, they plan to connect with the Ohio River at Cairo, Illinois, which would lead them north into the free states where slavery is outlawed. But unfortunately they decide to rescue two conmen who introduce themselves as a king and a duke. Realizing Jim is a runaway and cares about the boy, they are able to use Jim and Tom to their advantage, swindling every person they meet with their cons.
After Huck decide to thwart their plans to rob two young women of their inheritance, the conmen decide to turn Jim in. They venture into a town that turns out to be where Tom Sawyer’s aunt and uncle live. While Huck pretends to be Tom, Uncle Silas captures Jim when he is tipped off to his whereabouts. Suddenly Huck and Tom find themselves faced with the prospect of having to rescue and release Jim, which Huck was always taught is wrong. After all they’ve been through together, will Huck turn Jim in? Or will he finally recognize that Jim is human being and a friend that should be free?
Best for ages 10+ | 70 minutes long without an intermission
Reasons for recommendation: A story of slavery – Suspenseful & scary plot elements – Troubling historical realities
The Characters You Will Meet
●Huckleberry Finn — An adolescent boy living along the Mississippi River in 1840 who is struggling with the expectations of the adults in his life and frustrated with their attempts to “sivilize” him. Huck is frequently forced to survive on his own wits. He is beginning to come to his own conclusions about important matters, even if they contradict society’s
●Jim — A young man who is enslaved to Miss Watson. Worried about his future when a slave trader comes around, he decides to run away. He frequently acts selflessly in order to help Huck and others, and a friendship with Huck gradually develops as they are both running away.
●Tom Sawyer – Huck’s best friend and a boy who is always looking for fun and adventure, sometimes flirting with great danger and stirring up trouble in the process.
●Widow Douglas — A kind lady
who has taken Huck in after he helped save her from a home invasion. She believes it is her Christian duty to civilize Huck.
●Miss Watson — The widow’s sister and a rather stern and discipline-minded woman who is fairly hard on Huck.
●Aunt Polly – Tom Sawyer’s no-nonsense aunt who looks out for her nephew and is usually onto most of his antics.
●The King and The Duke — A pair of ruthless con
men whom Huck and Jim rescue as they escape. They are the opposite of Jim in that they have no qualms about using their trickery to take advantage of others to get what they want.
●Pap — Huck’s father, a mean and aggressive man who drinks too much and menaces his son when he finds out he’s been taken in by the wealthy Widow Douglas
●Mary Jane and Joanna Wilkes – The kind-hearted and curious nieces of the Wilkes family. When the uncle who took them in dies, the King and Duke pretend to be his brothers from England so they can claim and steal the inheritance
●Aunt Sally and Uncle Silas –Tom Sawyer’s well-off (and slave-owning) relatives who are expecting him for a visit and get rather confused due to Tom and Huck’s adventurous schemes
●Folks Living Along the Mississippi River, including a Knitting Woman, Farmers, Townspeople, a Doctor, and Others
Know Before You Go
Here are some things your family might like to
“Know Before You Go”:
Finn is set in a time in American history when slavery was legal and taken for granted as an established social and economic institution in the South. Though it is abhorrent to us today, the character of Jim is not considered a person and instead is treated as property. Many characters are white slaveholders, while others profit indirectly from slavery. You may want to talk to your child about what slavery was, why it is wrong, and how it was a part of our nation’s history.●Huck Finn is both an adventure story and also a story that delves into some very serious issues from our nation’s history. While the play, like the novel it is based on, uses a lot of humor and action to create an engaging story, there are some serious topics—like freedom, equality, race relations, and discrimination—that you may want to be prepared to discuss with your family after the
show.●At the beginning of the play, Huck’s abusive, alcoholic, and broke father, Pap, is briefly introduced. Pap proves himself to be a bad guardian and he may be frightening to some children.
●Huck refers to himself as “wicked” several times during the play. Huck believes some of his thoughts and actions are not “good” due to his religious upbringing. Your family might want to have a conversation about why Huck
feels this way and the messages about how his understanding of “good” and “wicked” evolves during the play.
● Guns were a part of everyday life in the 1840s and they make an appearance in Huck Finn. Characters carry rifles at various points throughout the show, and in a particularly thrilling moment, a character is injured by a gunshot (but
is not killed). A loud sound effect accompanies this moment, which may be startling to some audience members.
From Story to Stage
●The play Huck Finn is a swiftly-moving and significantly condensed adaptation of the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by celebrated American author and humorist Mark Twain. It was first published in the U.S. in 1885 and is considered one of the “Great American Novels” and most important books of the 19th century.
●The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been a controversial book since it was first published for both its content and its racial language. It has been a target for book-banning on numerous occasions. This adaptation does not use some of the controversial language that appears in the novel but stays true to its themes.
●Mark Twain, the author of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, was once an apprentice steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River. Huck is based on Tom Blankenship, a childhood playmate of Mark Twain’s whose father, was the model for Pap.
● Eric Coble, the playwright who adapted the play, struggled to write this expansive story onto a small stage that would engage rather than enrage the audience. He has said that in bringing the novel to that stage he wanted to explore the question, “What is the world telling you, and if it doesn’t line up with your heart how do you find an in-between?”
A note about parking:
Parking is available for $2 in the parking garage at 19th & Harney, courtesy of the Omaha Douglas Public Building Commission.
City of Omaha Parking meters are now active from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Metered parking spots will still be free on Sundays and holidays.
Free parking is available in the Wells Fargo parking lot on the northwest corner of 20th & Farnam Streets on weekends and after 5:30 pm on weeknights.
While at The Rose
Join Our Post-Performance Q&A Session! A few minutes after the performance, our actors will conduct a Question & Answer session from the stage. It’s a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the scenery, costumes, special effects, and other aspects of the production. The actors may even have a question or two for you about the story.
Meet the Cast & Get an Autograph! Some performers will be available after the show to say hello, pose in pictures, and sign their autographs for you. You can meet them on
the mezzanine level right outside the entrance to our balcony level seats.Take Home a Souvenir! The Rose Guild presents a souvenir stand before and after each performance offering a variety of fun and inexpensive show-related mementos. The proceeds help to support the great education programs at The Rose Theater!
Grab a Theater Class Brochure! If you like what you saw on the stage and think you’d like to be a part of it, try taking a theater class here at The Rose Theater. We offer a wide range of arts classes for every interest and experience level. Please visit our website to read director’s notes and view production photos. Box Office Assistance The Rose Box Office is open Monday through Friday from 9 am to 4:30 pm at (402) 345-4849. Information and ticketing
is also available online at www.rosetheater.org.
The Rose Theater, 2001 Farnam Street, Omaha, NE 68102, United States