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Save Our Heritage Organisation

August 20

SOHO hosts TwainFest at the Whaley House on August 20 - a FREE celebration of Literature, Levity, and Laughter!

TwainFest, the unique one-day celebration of literature, laughter, and levity that attracted upwards of 2,500 people when it debuted last summer in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, happens again on Saturday, August 20. This year's TwainFest offers unique word and literature-based TwainFest poster games and performances in the Whaley House and its garden, as well as in the State Park. TwainFest is produced by Write Out Loud, the State Park, and Fiesta de Reyes; now SOHO joins in as an official sponsor.

TwainFest celebrates the writing of Mark Twain and many of his 19th century contemporaries including Emily Dickinson, Paul Dunbar, Ambrose Bierce, Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman, and many more. Professional actors and musicians in beautiful period attire perform readings and scenes at venues throughout the State Park. This year the action also takes place at the Whaley House grounds, where a historic trial will be reenacted in the courtroom, and in the garden there will be a variety of activities and games suitable for entire families to play. Admission is free.

Combining history, literature, and lots of fun, the day includes a 19th century spelling bee, a puppet show featuring a Mark Twain puppet, the Quotation Man, Fishing For Words, and The Literary Seance are just a few of the popular attractions. The Garden of Literary Delight is a tea party with poetry read aloud by professional actors. Most performances are scheduled repeatedly throughout the day so it is possible to enjoy a wide variety of the offerings.

Charles Harrington Elster, author and co-founder of the popular radio show A Way With Words, will introduce the TwainFest programming in the Whaley House courtroom at 11:30am. In the afternoon Elster will read the speech Twain delivered at his 70th birthday party in 1905 at Delmonico's Restaurant in New York City.

TwainFest is the creation of Write Out Loud, a San Diego-based theatre company that is devoted to bringing literature to life - aloud. Artistic Director, Veronica Murphy, explains, "We see a need and an opportunity to make wonderful stories (also known as 'great literature') more vivid and available. TwainFest is a delightful day of tongue-in-cheek fun. Stories and poems mix quite well with tug-of-war and frog jumping contests if you put them together with a wink and nudge. That's what happens during TwainFest. It's magic. The magic of the theatre."

"We are delighted to partner with SOHO to bring TwainFest into the Whaley House in the very center of Old Town's commercial district," says Walter Ritter, the TwainFest Event Manager. "Over time we plan for TwainFest to be all over Old Town - a living, breathing, laughter-loaded celebration of our marvelous culture."

Read "Old Town festival honors the spirit of Mark Twain", article in the North County Times, 8/14/11.

Volunteer Coordinator for TwainFest, Steve Warner, is looking for volunteers to help staff this year's TwainFest. "We need people who can manage a performance venue, run an arcade event, help with set-up and strike, and, very important, help with clean-up. We also need wardrobe helpers and "floaters" - people who can fill-in a variety of jobs when and where they're needed." Anyone interested in volunteering (a typical volunteer "shift" is just 4 hours) can contact Steven at Write Out Loud, 619-297-8953 or by email at Visit

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