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An entertaining, enlightening, theatrical presentation for any occasion,
especially appropriate for Ben's birthday (January 17), his passing (April 17).
celebrations of Independence (July 4), political events (primaries and election days),
any anniversaries of defining moments in American History.

 

A Ben Franklin for All Seasons

 In his day, he was the most famous of all Americans,
here and abroad. With David Houston in the role, Ben
perhaps the most versatile creator since da Vinciquotes and amuses himself at his deskwith a few friends to hear him practice. He has been asked to prepare a speech explaining his popularity and power, and he finds it difficult to keep a straight face:
his comic alter-ego, Poor Richard, keeps springing to mind.
 
 
Script adaptation by David Houston
From Franklin's writings and autobiographical sketches
 

 Contact 

David Houston
(516) 293-2638 – DH@davidhouston.net

$300 fee includes actor in costume, sound technician, small setting, music equipment,
and travel 
(included for Long Island and Queens); facility is asked to supply a performance
area about 8' x 12', simple lighting, and, if the space is large, a clip-on wireless microphone; 
running time is about an hour

Scroll down, or leap with these links:

About Ben Franklin

About David Houston

Scheduled Performances

Music for Interludes and Underscoring

Ben Franklin pictures for publicity

David Houston photos for publicity

Ben Franklin Lifeline, key dates and events

Sources

Comments and Reviews

 

About Ben Franklin

Ben Franklin was a successful publisher in Philadelphia. He founded this country’s postal system, served as Colonial agent to Great Britain, advanced our understanding of electricity, led the protest against taxation, organized America’s first intelligence network and helped draft the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Yet with all his accomplishments, Benjamin Franklin is the founding father who winks at us, more of a founding uncle—funny, intimate and easygoing.

Franklin wrote humorous columns and books calling himself “Poor Richard” from 1733 until 1758, and his yearly volume was eagerly devoured by the public. Full of anecdotes, tall tales, witty sayings and sage advice—it made him famous and wealthy. Much of what he included in “Poor Richard’s Almanac” has become part of our language: don’t throw stones if you live in , , , God helps those who help . . . no gain without . . . .

But we shouldn’t think of Franklin as a grandfather-figure who went around saying a penny saved is a penny earned, or as an antiseptic, prudish man. He was not. He was bawdy, roguish, loved to play jokes on his friends, and when England grew oppressive, he was not afraid to rebel.   

Benjamin Franklin was the American middle class personified, the embodiment of practicality, ingenuity, business sense and confidence. Franklin himself bears some of the blame and credit for this picture—with the autobiographical rags-to-riches yarns he concocted. Known for inventing an electrostatic generator, a glass musical instrument, and the Franklin Stove—the  most interesting thing Benjamin Franklin invented was himself. He carefully crafted his own persona, portrayed it in public, and polished it for posterity.

 

David Houston Bio

DAVID HOUSTON, writer/director/performer, has appeared in leading roles in scores of plays and musicals, including Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet, Senex in A Funny Thing, Ben in Death of a Salesman, Major Bouvier in Grey Gardens, Herr Shultz in Cabaret, Horace Giddens in The Little Foxes, and Sir in The Dresser. He is a published and produced writer of fiction and non-fiction. His original plays—including Let's Do It!, Fred and Adele Astaire: The Last Dance, The Ghost of Dorothy Parker, Great Scott and Zelda, The Dickens! and Murder and Madness and Poe—have been seen by a number of Long Island audiences. His Joan Crawford biography Jazz Baby (St. Martin's Press) was optioned for movie production, as was his mystery novel Shadows on the Moon (Leisure Books). 

Scheduled Performances

Wednesday, March 9, 2011, 7:00 pm, MIDDLE COUNTRY PUBLIC LIBRARY, Centereach
Monday, May 16, 2011, 7:00 pm, MOUNT OLIVE PUBLIC LIBRARY, Flanders, NJ
Saturday, November 5, 2011, 2:00 pm, SEAFORD PUBLIC LIBRARY
Friday, February 3, 2012, noon, PORT WASHINGTON PUBLIC LIBRARY
Monday, February 6, 2012, 2:00 pm, JERICHO PUBLIC LIBRARY
Wednesday, October 31, 2012, 11:15 am, MOLLOY COLLEGE LIFETIME LEARNING, Farmingdale

Music for Transitions and Underscoring

THE ART OF THE BAROQUE HARPSICHORD 
Music of Bach, Scarlatti and Handel, played by Laurence Cummings
NAXOS CD 8.554727
MUSIC OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION: THE BIRTH OF LIBERTY
Themes  popular in 18th Century America played by The American Fife
Ensemble and The Liberty Tree Wind Players
NEW WORLD RECORDS 80276-2


Pictures of Ben Franklin for publicity
download or request paper or disk copies

 

 

      

Photos of David Houston for publicity
Headshot and As Ben Franklin

download or request paper or disk copies

  

 

 

           

 

 Ben Franklin Lifeline

1706

Born in Boston on January 17

1718

Apprenticed to brother James, a printer

1721

At 15, writes ballads and peddles them on the street

1722

Writes Silence Dogood letters

1723

Flees to Philadelphia and takes a job as printer's assistant

1727

Founds the Junto, or "Leather Apron" Club

1730

Common-law marriage to Deborah Read

1732

First Edition of "Poor Richard's Almanac"

1736

Forms the Union Fire Brigade of volunteer firemen

1737

Appointed Philadelphia postmaster

1738

Studies French, Italian, Spanish, and Latin

1742

Invents the Franklin Stove

1743

Organizes the American Philosophical Society

1746

Publishes "Plain Truth" calling for a disciplined defense; begins experiments with electricity

1749

Proposes academy that becomes the University of Pennsylvania; appointed a Commissioner to trade with the Indians

1751

Co-founds the Pennsylvania Hospital

1752

Flies Kite with son William in experiment that links lightning to electricity

1753

Elected a member of the Royal Society; receives M.A. degree from
Yale and Harvard

1754

Proposes plan to unite the Colonies; French and Indian War begins

1755

Carries through a bill establishing a volunteer militia; appointed Colonel

1757

Publishes "Way to Wealth"

1761

Invents glass armonica, a musical instrument

1762

Receives LL.D from Oxford and Edinborough

1763

French and Indian War ends; makes a postal inspection tour
of the Colonies

1765

Tries to prevent passage of the Stamp Act, which passes in
House of Commons

1774

Privy Council meets; Franklin questioned

1775

Elected to Second Continental Congress; proposes first Articles of Confederation

1776

Helps draft The Declaration of Independence; sails to France

1778

Signs treaty of alliance, amity and commerce with France

1782

With John Adams and John Jay, negotiates peace treaty with Britain

1783

Witnesses first manned balloon flight

1785

Elected President of Pennsylvania

1787

At Constitutional Convention, proposes compromise that creates a
House with proportional representation and a Senate with equal number of votes per state

1790

Dies on April 17 at age 84; his grave is in the churchyard at
Fifth and Arch Streets, Philadelphia

Sources  

  • Alper, Joshua and Bridges, Raymond: Ben Franklin, Inventor, Diplomat, Icon, and a Human Being, History Channel Documentary, A&E Television Networks, 2004
  • Biography Channel: Benjamin Franklin, Citizen of the World, Hearst/ABC/NBC Arts and Entertainment Networks, 1994
  • Chaplin, Joyce E.: The First Scientific American, Basic Books, New York, NY, 2006
  • Fleming, Candace: Ben Franklin's Almanac, Being a True Account of the Good Gentleman's Life; Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, 2002
  • Franklin, Benjamin: Autobiography, Charles W. Eliot, ed; SoHoBooks, New York
  • Franklin, Benjamin: Fart Proudly, Carl Japikso, ed; Enthea Press, Marble Hill, GA, 1990
  • Franklin, Benjamin: Wit and Wisdom, Peter Pauper Press, Inc., White Plains, NY, 1998
  • Franklin, Benjamin: Poor Richard's Almanac, Paul A. Volcker, Introduction, Skyhorse Publishing, Inc., New York NY, 2007
  • Franklin, Benjamin: Not Your Usual Founding Father, Edmond S. Morgan, ed; Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2006
  • Franklin, Benjamin: The Way to Wealth, The Whistle, and The Advantages of Drunkenness, J. L. Pope, ed; Juniper Grove, Lexington KY, 2008
  • Humes, James C.: The Wit and Wisdom of Benjamin Franklin; Gramercy Books, New York, NY, 2001
  • Isaacson, Walter: Benjamin Franklin, an American Life; Simon and Schuster, New York, NY, 2003
  • Layaco, Richard: Benjamin Franklin, an Illustrated History of his Life and Times, Time Books, Time, Inc., New York, 2010
  • Srodes, James: Franklin, The Essential Founding Father; Regnery Publishing, Inc., Washington, D.C, 2002
  • Wood, Gordon S., The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin, Penguin Books, New York, NY, 2004

Reviews and Comments

A BEN FRANKLIN FOR ALL SEASONS

Kristen Jording, Librarian/Adult Services, Seaford Public Library: "Our patrons thought you were very interesting and informative; they loved the costumes and how dedicated you are to your performance. Overall our patrons truly enjoyed your performance and would love to see you again at the Seaford Library." Debbie Starker, editor and reviewer, Deb's Web: "David Houston has done it again with another of his traveling library shows.  We saw the premier performance of A Ben Franklin for All Seasons starring David as Ben Franklin at Middle Country Library. David is marvelous at extracting material from many sources and combining them into one-hour plays that both educate and entertain. His attention to set detail and period costume transport you from a library meeting room into another world. In addition, David makes wonderful use of background music and sound effects to add to the ambiance and create the aura of an old-time radio performance. In Ben Franklin, David has selected several of Franklin's discourses, some serious, some satirical, and all worth much more than the price of admission (FREE).  You won't want to miss this unusual and interesting look at one of our "founding fathers."

ABE LINCOLN IN THE 21ST CENTURY

Penelope Wright, Director of Adult Programs, Rogers Memorial Library, Southampton: "A compelling portrait of one of our iconic and most beloved Presidents. It was not only tremendously absorbing and beautifully acted, it was also powerfully illuminating. Bravo." Salamah Mullen, Art Exhibit Coordinator, Uniondale Public Library: "The performance was excellent! The audience truly enjoyed themselves. The set was nicely done. So far we were the only library who exhibited the [touring] Lincoln work to have a live performance, Thanks for all you did to make this event a success." Charles Sleefe, Library Director, Mineola Memorial Library: "Excellent. A great addition to our year-long Lincoln celebration." Tauhirah K. Abdussabur, Customer Service Specialist, Forest Hills Community Library, Queens: "Patrons [a full house] stayed through the entire performance; you could hear a pin drop. They clapped and laughed. They  focused on the performer: 'Wonderful!' 'I enjoyed it very much,' 'He's very good.' Many spoke with the Mr. Houston after the presentation and expressed their appreciation."  Christopher Kohan, President, Victor D'Amico Institute of Art: "I am writing to say how much I enjoyed your Lincoln at the Montauk Library. There can never be enough said about Mr. Lincoln; there is always something new to learn." Jessica Ley, Program Coordinator, Port Washington Public Library: "Excellent program in celebration of Lincoln's 200th anniversary year; entertaining, surprisingly humorous, and educational." Phyllis Cox, PR/Program Coordinator, Jericho Public Library: "How my patrons love your performances! Thank you again for a wonderful afternoon. You were spectacular as Abe."   

MARK TWAIN: TELLING TALES

Institute for Learning in Retirement, SUNY Farmingdale, Walter Chaskel, Lecture Series Coordinator: "The largest audience ever to attend a Friday lecture [retired educators and professionals] responded in rapt and enthusiastic attention to David Houston's warm and affectionate portrayal of America's most famous humorist. When Mark Twain stepped into the bland college lecture hall in his snow-white suit and glistening silver hair, his captivating presence instantly transformed the setting into an imaginary Chautauqua platform, with his resonate voice, twinkling eye, charming accent, and the sly wit for which he was famed." Port Washington Public Library, Jessica Ley, Program Coordinator: Another wonderful performance. David Houston's Mark Twain was convincing and thoroughly entertaining. The unusual biographical and essay material was delightful. Again, it was the perfect kind of literary entertainment for a library or school. Farmingdale State College, Barbara Minerd, Artists and Lecturers Program Coordinator: "David Houston makes my job as a program coordinator a pleasure with his talent and reliability, with current and appropriate topic selections at a budget-conscious price." Cold Spring Harbor Library, Mona Bergman, Adult Program Coordinator: "There was a very favorable response which I will pass on to other program coordinators." Glen Cove Senior Center, Lucy Van Horn, Activities Coordinator: "For us it was an unusual educational and entertaining experience, our first one-man play [Three Stories]. My group had nothing but good things to say about it."

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