17-year-old picked to create new Tom Sawyer Noah Altshuler poses in Groton, Mass. Tom Sawyers author, Mark Twain, appears at left (AP Photos / Ellen Harasimowicz)
17-year-old picked to create new Tom Sawyer
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A new stage adaptation of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" has been commissioned from an up-and-coming playwright not much older than Sawyer was in the landmark book.

The Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, Connecticut has picked 17-year-old Noah Altshuler to go back to the famous novel and build a play from it this summer after visiting key Twain locations like Hannibal, Missouri and Elmira, New York.

"It's an effort, above all, to bring the quintessential American boy to a new generation. His importance is greater than it's ever been," said Altshuler. "I've found Twain to be so relatable and so important in my life that it's a shame to think that others don't have that same relationship merely because of a lack of access or interest."

Altshuler, who was born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts and admits to being a president James Garfield junkie, has already had his play "Making the Move" featured at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and licensed by more than 50 schools across the country. He hopes to return to the festival this year with a sequel.

Altshuler's play will be adapted primarily from "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," but it will also include elements drawn from "Tom Sawyer Abroad" and "Tom Sawyer, Detective." The playwright, named a playwright-in-residence, will have access to Twain's archives.

The tale of Sawyer in which he whitewashes a fence, escapes to an island and tries to live without adults, witnesses a murder, searches for treasure and gets lost in caves has been made into films, TV movies, a ballet and stage musicals.

Altshuler said he would try to steer clear of other interpretations so he could create a direct and personal relationship with the original text. He said he hopes to capture the energy and excitement of someone living the life of Tom Sawyer.

"What I want to bring out and preserve and bring to a new generation is the triumphs and disappointments and the emotions and realities on a deeper level. I want to make those pieces modern and relevant," Altshuler said. "I want to take the deep truths and separate them from the surface facts and create a piece that speaks not to the world of Twain but to the heart of Twain."

Twain was born Samuel Clemens in Florida, Missouri in 1835. His family moved to Hannibal, where he grew up. The Mississippi River town and its characters inspired many of his greatest works, including "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," ''The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" and "Life on the Mississippi."

Critical thinking challenge: Mark Twain's house is in Hartford, Connecticut. Noah Altshuler is from Massachsetts. So what inspired Twain to put Tom Sawyer on the Mississippi River, far from New England?

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COMMENTS (6)
  • CharismaM
    3/30/2015 - 01:33 p.m.

    This is an amazing opportunity for Noah. I hope he does great job and receives a lot of success. I don't think I would ever be able to write a play for such a well known and loved book.

  • jacobm-Che
    3/30/2015 - 01:53 p.m.

    Mark Twain from what i know was a sell-man who would get you to buy his books before you read them but it is true that Tom Sawyer was one of his best sellers but now a days Tom Sawyer is not the best role model for kids and i say this not being a kid but at a adult stand point

  • SydneyL-Kut
    3/30/2015 - 05:29 p.m.

    I think it's a good idea to have a younger person create the play. That way, people who originally might not have read the book would realize that if a seventeen year old is making a play on it, it could be more interesting than they think. I also agree that it's a good idea for him to stay away from other movies and plays because it might cause him to make the play not similar to the book. I personally don't like it when someone changes what happens in a book in a movie or play.

  • MaxG-4
    3/30/2015 - 09:27 p.m.

    This article is about an up and coming playwright that is 17 years old. He has a passion for the works of Mark Twain and plans to make a play about it to ignite people interests in it and bring it forward to a new generation. Which is his yet he talks like its not. He has been given access to the archives and is only using the original versions of the stories. He has been researching and is going to make at close to the original as possible.

  • marya-Goo
    4/02/2015 - 11:52 a.m.

    Twain put Tom Sawyer on the Mississippi River. The text states that one of the events of the book was Tom escaping to an island to live without adults. Tom would need a water route to be able to get to the island. The text also states that Mark Twain was born near the Mississippi River. This evidence from the text illustrates that Tom Sawyer needs the river as a setting for an event and that Twain was born near the Mississippi River.

  • Ashleypatt
    4/06/2015 - 08:56 p.m.

    I think this article is very interesting. To know that a young kid is going to do the play makes it more fun to listen to. Because people who already know about it and do it then it makes it non as fun. But when younger people do it they can make it interesting because you wouldnt think they can make it like that and they knew all of that stuff about it.

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