Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of fine art that uses live performers actors or actresses, to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place a stage. The performers may communicate this experience to the audience through combinations of gesture, song and dance. Elements of art, such as painted scenery and stagecraft such as lighting are used to enhance the physicality and immediacy of the experience; the specific place of the performance is named by the word "theatre" as derived from the Ancient Greek θέατρον, itself from θεάομαι. Modern Western theatre comes, in large measure, from the theatre of ancient Greece, from which it borrows technical terminology, classification into genres, many of its themes, stock characters, plot elements. Theatre artist Patrice Pavis defines theatricality, theatrical language, stage writing and the specificity of theatre as synonymous expressions that differentiate theatre from the other performing arts and the arts in general.
Modern theatre includes performances of musical theatre. The art forms of ballet and opera are theatre and use many conventions such as acting and staging, they were influential to the development of musical theatre. The city-state of Athens is, it was part of a broader culture of theatricality and performance in classical Greece that included festivals, religious rituals, law and gymnastics, poetry, weddings and symposia. Participation in the city-state's many festivals—and mandatory attendance at the City Dionysia as an audience member in particular—was an important part of citizenship. Civic participation involved the evaluation of the rhetoric of orators evidenced in performances in the law-court or political assembly, both of which were understood as analogous to the theatre and came to absorb its dramatic vocabulary; the Greeks developed the concepts of dramatic criticism and theatre architecture. Actors were either amateur or at best semi-professional; the theatre of ancient Greece consisted of three types of drama: tragedy and the satyr play.
The origins of theatre in ancient Greece, according to Aristotle, the first theoretician of theatre, are to be found in the festivals that honoured Dionysus. The performances were given in semi-circular auditoria cut into hillsides, capable of seating 10,000–20,000 people; the stage consisted of a dancing floor, dressing scene-building area. Since the words were the most important part, good acoustics and clear delivery were paramount; the actors wore masks appropriate to the characters they represented, each might play several parts. Athenian tragedy—the oldest surviving form of tragedy—is a type of dance-drama that formed an important part of the theatrical culture of the city-state. Having emerged sometime during the 6th century BCE, it flowered during the 5th century BCE, continued to be popular until the beginning of the Hellenistic period. No tragedies from the 6th century BCE and only 32 of the more than a thousand that were performed in during the 5th century BCE have survived. We have complete texts extant by Aeschylus and Euripides.
The origins of tragedy remain obscure, though by the 5th century BCE it was institutionalised in competitions held as part of festivities celebrating Dionysus. As contestants in the City Dionysia's competition playwrights were required to present a tetralogy of plays, which consisted of three tragedies and one satyr play; the performance of tragedies at the City Dionysia may have begun as early as 534 BCE. Most Athenian tragedies dramatise events from Greek mythology, though The Persians—which stages the Persian response to news of their military defeat at the Battle of Salamis in 480 BCE—is the notable exception in the surviving drama; when Aeschylus won first prize for it at the City Dionysia in 472 BCE, he had been writing tragedies for more than 25 years, yet its tragic treatment of recent history is the earliest example of drama to survive. More than 130 years the philosopher Aristotle analysed 5th-century Athenian tragedy in the oldest surviving work of dramatic theory—his Poetics. Athenian comedy is conventionally divided into three periods, "Old Comedy", "Middle Comedy", "New Comedy".
Old Comedy survives today in the form of the eleven surviving plays of Aristophanes, while Middle Comedy is lost. New Comedy is known from the substantial papyrus fragments of Menander. Aristotle defined comedy as a representation of laughable people that involves some kind of blunder or ugliness that does not cause pain or disaster. In addition to the categories of comedy and tragedy at the City Dionysia, the festival included the Satyr Play. Finding its origins in rural, agricultural rituals dedicated to Dionysus, the satyr play found its way to Athens in its most well-known form. Satyr's themselves were tied to the god Dionysus as his loyal woodland companions engaging in drunken revelry and mischief at his side; the satyr play itself was classified as tragicomedy, erring
Robert Charles Benchley was an American humorist best known for his work as a newspaper columnist and film actor. From his beginnings at The Harvard Lampoon while attending Harvard University, through his many years writing essays and articles for Vanity Fair and The New Yorker and his acclaimed short films, Benchley's style of humor brought him respect and success during his life, from his peers at the Algonquin Round Table in New York City to contemporaries in the burgeoning film industry. Benchley is best remembered for his contributions to The New Yorker, where his essays, whether topical or absurdist, influenced many modern humorists, he made a name for himself in Hollywood, when his short film How to Sleep was a popular success and won Best Short Subject at the 1935 Academy Awards. He made many memorable appearances acting in films such as Alfred Hitchcock's Foreign Correspondent and Nice Girl?. His legacy includes written work and numerous short film appearances. Robert Benchley was born on September 15, 1889, in Worcester, the second son of Maria Jane and Charles Henry Benchley.
They were of Northern Irish and Welsh descent both from colonial stock. His brother Edmund was thirteen years older. Benchley was known for writing elaborately misleading and fictional autobiographical statements about himself, his father served in the army for two years during the Civil War and had a four-year hitch in the Navy, before settling again in Worcester and marrying. He worked as a town clerk. Benchley's ancestors included his grandfather Henry Wetherby Benchley, a member of the Massachusetts Senate and Lieutenant Governor in the mid-1850s, he went to Houston and became an activist for the Underground Railroad, where he was arrested and jailed for this. Robert's older brother, was a 4th year cadet at West Point in 1898 when the Secretary of War ordered that his class be graduated early to support preparations for the Spanish–American War. Edmund was assigned to active duty as second lieutenant to the 6th Infantry Regiment. In Cuba in the summer of 1898, the 6th Infantry was part of Kent's 1st Division and Shafter's 5th Corps.
The 1st Division fought in the 1 July 1898 Battle of San Juan Hill. The Division was brought up to the base of San Juan Hill as the left-most division. Edmund was killed when sent back down a trail swept by Spanish rifle fire to the retrieve lost soldiers left to the rear of the Regiment when it crossed the San Juan River. According to a report by Harry C. Egbert, the commanding officer of the 6th Infantry, "Even on this trail, the troops were annoyed by the fire of the enemy coming from the heights far over behind my left, which continuously swept the valley in the rear of my line and caused the loss of a most promising young officer, Lieutenant Benchley, Sixth Infantry, whom I had sent back across the river to bring up an men who might have been scattered in the underbrush, he was shot dead." Edmund's Company Commander, Captain Kennon wrote, "My lieutenants left nothing to be desired... Lieutenant Benchley was as brave as he could be, died while gallantly performing important and dangerous duty under Colonel Egbert's orders."
News of Edmund's death did not reach the Benchley family until they were attending a public Fourth of July picnic when a bicycle messenger brought the notification telegram. In unthinking, stunned reaction, Maria Benchley cried out, "Why couldn't it have been Robert?!", while the latter, nine years old, was standing by her side. Mrs. Benchley tried hard to atone for the remark. Edmund's death had considerable effects on Robert's life. Edmund's fiancée Lillian Duryea, a wealthy heiress, took an interest in Robert and aided him, it is believed. The period, was full of strong literary reactions to the Great War, Benchley was aware of, for instance, the anti-war writings of A. A. Milne. Robert Benchley met Gertrude Darling in high school in Worcester, they became engaged during his senior year at Harvard University, they married in June 1914. Their first child, Nathaniel Benchley, was born a year later. A second son, Robert Benchley, Jr. was born in 1919. Nathaniel became a writer, published a biography of his father in 1955.
He was a well-respected fiction and children's book author. Nathaniel married and had talented sons who became writers: Peter Benchley was best known for the book Jaws, Nat Benchley wrote and performed in an acclaimed one-man production based on their father Robert's life. Robert grew up and attended school in Worcester and was involved in academic and traveling theatrical productions during high school. Thanks to financial aid from his late brother's fiancée, Lillian Duryea, he could attend Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire for his final year of high school. Benchley reveled in the atmosphere at the Academy, he remained active in creative extracurricular activities, thereby damaging his academic credentials toward the end of his term. Benchley wrote his senior thesis on “How to Embalm a Corpse.” Thus began a lifelong penchant for laughing at death. Benchley enrolled at Harvard University in 1908, again with Duryea's financial help, he joined the Delta Upsilon fraternity in his first year, continued to partake in the camaraderie that he had enjoyed at Phillips Exeter while still doing well in school.
He did well in his English and government classes. His humor and style began to reveal themselves during this time: Benchl
Jerome K. Jerome
Jerome Klapka Jerome was an English writer and humorist, best known for the comic travelogue Three Men in a Boat. Other works include the essay collections Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow and Second Thoughts of an Idle Fellow. Jerome was born in Caldmore, England, he was the fourth child of Marguerite Jones and Jerome Clapp, an ironmonger and lay preacher who dabbled in architecture. He had two sisters and Blandina, one brother, who died at an early age. Jerome was registered as Jerome Clapp Jerome, like his father's amended name, the Klapka appears to be a variation; the family fell into poverty owing to bad investments in the local mining industry, debt collectors visited an experience that Jerome described vividly in his autobiography My Life and Times. The young Jerome attended St Marylebone Grammar School, he wished to go into politics or be a man of letters, but the death of his father when Jerome was 13 and of his mother when he was 15 forced him to quit his studies and find work to support himself.
He was employed at the London and North Western Railway collecting coal that fell along the railway, he remained there for four years. Jerome was inspired by his older sister Blandina's love for the theatre, he decided to try his hand at acting in 1877, under the stage name Harold Crichton, he joined a repertory troupe that produced plays on a shoestring budget drawing on the actors' own meagre resources – Jerome was penniless at the time – to purchase costumes and props. After three years on the road with no evident success, the 21-year-old Jerome decided that he had enough of stage life and sought other occupations, he tried to become a journalist, writing essays and short stories, but most of these were rejected. Over the next few years, he was a school teacher, a packer, a solicitor's clerk. In 1885, he had some success with On the Stage – and Off, a comic memoir of his experiences with the acting troupe, followed by Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow, a collection of humorous essays which had appeared in the newly founded magazine, Home Chimes, the same magazine that would serialise Three Men in a Boat.
On 21 June 1888, Jerome married Georgina Elizabeth Henrietta Stanley Marris, nine days after she divorced her first husband. She had a daughter from her five-year marriage nicknamed Elsie; the honeymoon took place on the Thames "in a little boat," a fact, to have a significant influence on his next and most important work, Three Men in a Boat. Jerome sat down to write Three Men in a Boat as soon. In the novel, his wife was replaced by his longtime friends George Carl Hentschel; this allowed him to create comic situations which were nonetheless intertwined with the history of the Thames region. The book, published in 1889, has never been out of print, its popularity was such that the number of registered Thames boats went up fifty percent in the year following its publication, it contributed to the Thames becoming a tourist attraction. In its first twenty years alone, the book sold over a million copies worldwide, it has been adapted to films, TV and radio shows, stage plays, a musical. Its writing style influenced many satirists in England and elsewhere.
With the financial security that the sales of the book provided, Jerome was able to dedicate all of his time to writing. He wrote a number of plays and novels, but was never able to recapture the success of Three Men in a Boat. In 1892, he was chosen by Robert Barr to edit The Idler; the magazine was an illustrated satirical monthly catering to gentlemen. In 1893, he founded To-Day, but had to withdraw from both publications because of financial difficulties and a libel suit. In 1898, a short stay in Germany inspired Three Men on the Bummel, the sequel to Three Men in a Boat, reintroducing the same characters in the setting of a foreign bicycle tour; the book was nonetheless unable to capture the life-force and historic roots of its predecessor, it enjoyed only a mild success. In 1902, he published the novel Paul Kelver, regarded as autobiographical, his 1908 play The Passing of the Third Floor Back introduced religious Jerome. The main character was played by one of the leading actors of the time, Johnston Forbes-Robertson, the play was a tremendous commercial success.
It was twice made into film, in 1918 and in 1935. However, the play was condemned by critics – Max Beerbohm described it as "vilely stupid" and as written by a "tenth-rate writer". Jerome volunteered to serve his country at the outbreak of the war, being 56 years old, was rejected by the British Army. Eager to serve in some capacity, he volunteered as an ambulance driver for the French Army. In 1926, Jerome published My Life and Times. Shortly afterwards, the Borough of Walsall conferred on him the title Freeman of the Borough. During these last years, Jerome spent more time at his farmhouse Gould's Grove southeast of Ewelme near Wallingford. Jerome suffered a paralytic stroke and a cerebral haemorrhage in June 1927, on a motoring tour from Devon to London via Cheltenham and Northampton, he lay in Northampton General Hospital for two weeks before dying on 14 June. He was cremated at Golders Green and his ashes buried at St Ma
Samuel Langhorne Clemens, known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American writer, entrepreneur and lecturer. His novels include The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and its sequel, the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the latter called "The Great American Novel". Twain was raised in Hannibal, which provided the setting for Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, he served an apprenticeship with a printer and worked as a typesetter, contributing articles to the newspaper of his older brother Orion Clemens. He became a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River before heading west to join Orion in Nevada, he referred humorously to his lack of success at mining, turning to journalism for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise. His humorous story, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County", was published in 1865, based on a story that he heard at Angels Hotel in Angels Camp, where he had spent some time as a miner; the short story brought international attention and was translated into French. His wit and satire, in prose and in speech, earned praise from critics and peers, he was a friend to presidents, artists and European royalty.
Twain earned a great deal of money from his writings and lectures, but he invested in ventures that lost most of it—such as the Paige Compositor, a mechanical typesetter that failed because of its complexity and imprecision. He filed for bankruptcy in the wake of these financial setbacks, but he overcame his financial troubles with the help of Henry Huttleston Rogers, he chose to pay all his pre-bankruptcy creditors in full after he had no legal responsibility to do so. Twain was born shortly after an appearance of Halley's Comet, he predicted that he would "go out with it" as well, he was lauded as the "greatest humorist this country has produced", William Faulkner called him "the father of American literature". Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born on November 30, 1835, in Florida, the sixth of seven children born to Jane, a native of Kentucky, John Marshall Clemens, a native of Virginia, his parents met when his father moved to Missouri, they were married in 1823. Twain was of Cornish and Scots-Irish descent.
Only three of his siblings survived childhood: Orion and Pamela. His sister Margaret died when Twain was three, his brother Benjamin died three years later, his brother Pleasant Hannibal died at three weeks of age. When he was four, Twain's family moved to Hannibal, Missouri, a port town on the Mississippi River that inspired the fictional town of St. Petersburg in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Slavery was legal in Missouri at the time, it became a theme in these writings, his father was an attorney and judge, who died of pneumonia in 1847, when Twain was 11. The next year, Twain left school after the fifth grade to become a printer's apprentice. In 1851 he began working as a typesetter, contributing articles and humorous sketches to the Hannibal Journal, a newspaper that Orion owned; when he was 18, he left Hannibal and worked as a printer in New York City, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Cincinnati, joining the newly formed International Typographical Union, the printers trade union.
He educated himself in public libraries in the evenings, finding wider information than at a conventional school. Twain describes his boyhood in Life on the Mississippi, stating that "there was but one permanent ambition" among his comrades: to be a steamboatman. Pilot was the grandest position of all; the pilot in those days of trivial wages, had a princely salary – from a hundred and fifty to two hundred and fifty dollars a month, no board to pay. As Twain describes it, the pilot's prestige exceeded that of the captain; the pilot had to:...get up a warm personal acquaintanceship with every old snag and one-limbed cottonwood and every obscure wood pile that ornaments the banks of this river for twelve hundred miles. Twain studied the Mississippi, learning its landmarks, how to navigate its currents and how to read the river and its shifting channels, submerged snags, rocks that would "tear the life out of the strongest vessel that floated", it was. Piloting gave him his pen name from "mark twain", the leadsman's cry for a measured river depth of two fathoms, safe water for a steamboat.
As a young pilot, Clemens served on the steamer A. B. Chambers with Grant Marsh, who became famous for his exploits as a steamboat captain on the Missouri River; the two liked each other, admired one another, maintained a correspondence for many years after Clemens left the river. While training, Samuel convinced his younger brother Henry to work with him, arranged a post of mud clerk for him on the steamboat Pennsylvania. On June 13, 1858, the steamboat's boiler exploded. Twain claimed to have foreseen this death in a dream a month earlier, which inspired his interest in parapsychology. Twain held himself responsible for the rest of his life, he continued to work on the river and was a river pilot until the Civil War broke out in 1861, when traffic was curta
H. L. Mencken
Henry Louis Mencken was an American journalist, satirist, cultural critic and scholar of American English. He commented on the social scene, music, prominent politicians and contemporary movements, his satirical reporting on the Scopes trial, which he dubbed the "Monkey Trial" gained him attention. As a scholar, Mencken is known for The American Language, a multi-volume study of how the English language is spoken in the United States; as an admirer of the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, he was an outspoken opponent of religion and representative democracy, the latter of which he viewed as systems in which inferior men dominated their superiors. Mencken was a supporter of scientific progress, was critical of osteopathic and chiropractic medicine, he was an ardent critic of economics. Mencken opposed both American entry into World War I and World War II, his diary indicates that he was a racist and antisemite, who used coarse language and slurs to describe various ethnic and racial groups.
Mencken at times seemed to show a genuine enthusiasm for militarism, though never in its American form. "War is a good thing," he once wrote, "because it is honest, it admits the central fact of human nature... A nation too long at peace becomes a sort of gigantic old maid."His longtime home in the Union Square neighborhood of West Baltimore was turned into a city museum, the H. L. Mencken House, his papers were distributed among various city and university libraries, with the largest collection held in the Mencken Room at the central branch of Baltimore's Enoch Pratt Free Library. Mencken was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on September 12, 1880, he was August Mencken, Sr. a cigar factory owner. He spoke German in his childhood; when Henry was three, his family moved into a new home at 1524 Hollins Street facing Union Square park in the Union Square neighborhood of old West Baltimore. Apart from five years of married life, Mencken was to live in that house for the rest of his life. In his best-selling memoir Happy Days, he described his childhood in Baltimore as "placid, secure and happy."When he was nine years old, he read Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, which he described as "the most stupendous event in my life".
He became determined to read voraciously. In one winter while in high school he read Thackeray and "proceeded backward to Addison, Pope, Swift and the other magnificos of the Eighteenth century", he became an ardent fan of Kipling and Thomas Huxley. As a boy, Mencken had practical interests and chemistry in particular, had a home chemistry laboratory in which he performed experiments of his own devising, some of them inadvertently dangerous, he began his primary education in the mid-1880s at Professor Knapp's School on the east side of Holliday Street between East Lexington and Fayette Streets, next to the Holliday Street Theatre and across from the newly constructed Baltimore City Hall. The site today is the War Memorial and City Hall Plaza laid out in 1926 in memory of World War I dead. At fifteen, in June 1896, he graduated as valedictorian from the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, at the time a males-only mathematics and science-oriented public high school, he worked for three years in his father's cigar factory.
He disliked the work the sales aspect of it, resolved to leave, with or without his father's blessing. In early 1898 he took a writing class at the Cosmopolitan University; this was to be the entirety of Mencken's formal education in any other subject. Upon his father's death a few days after Christmas in the same year, the business reverted to his uncle, Mencken was free to pursue his career in journalism, he applied in February 1899 to the Morning Herald newspaper and was hired part-time, but still kept his position at the factory for a few months. In June he was hired as a full-time reporter. Mencken served as a reporter at the Herald for six years. Less than two and a half years after the Great Baltimore Fire, the paper was purchased in June 1906 by Charles H. Grasty, the owner and editor of The News since 1892, competing owner and publisher Gen. Felix Agnus, of the town's oldest and largest daily, The Baltimore American, they proceeded to divide the staff and resources of The Herald between them.
Mencken moved to The Baltimore Sun, where he worked for Charles H. Grasty, he continued to contribute to The Sun, The Evening Sun and The Sunday Sun full-time until 1948, when he stopped writing after suffering a stroke. Mencken began writing the editorials and opinion pieces. On the side, he wrote short stories, a novel, poetry, which he revealed. In 1908, he became a literary critic for The Smart Set magazine, in 1924 he and George Jean Nathan founded and edited The American Mercury, published by Alfred A. Knopf, it soon developed a national circulation and became influential on college campuses across America. In 1933, Mencken resigned as editor. In 1930, Mencken married Sara Haardt, a German American professor of English at Goucher College in Baltimore and an author eighteen years his junior. Haardt had led efforts in Alabama to ratify the 19th Amendment; the two met in 1923. The marriage made national headlines, many were surprised that Mencken, who once called marriage "the end of hope" and, well known for mocking relatio
Gary Edward "Garrison" Keillor is an American author, humorist, voice actor, radio personality. He is best known as the creator of the Minnesota Public Radio show A Prairie Home Companion, which he hosted from 1974 to 2016. Keillor created the fictional Minnesota town Lake Wobegon, the setting of many of his books, including Lake Wobegon Days and Leaving Home: A Collection of Lake Wobegon Stories. Other creations include Guy Noir, a detective voiced by Keillor who appeared in A Prairie Home Companion comic skits. Keillor is the creator of the five-minute daily radio/podcast program The Writer's Almanac, which pairs one or two poems of his choice with a script about important literary and scientific events that coincided with that date in history. In November 2017, Minnesota Public Radio cut all business ties with Keillor after an allegation of inappropriate behavior with a freelance writer for A Prairie Home Companion. On April 13, 2018, MPR and Keillor announced a settlement that allows archives of A Prairie Home Companion and The Writer's Almanac to be publicly available again, soon thereafter, Keillor began publishing new episodes of The Writer's Almanac on his website.
Keillor was born in Anoka, the son of Grace Ruth and John Philip Keillor. His father was a carpenter and postal worker, half-Canadian with English ancestry, his maternal grandparents were Scottish emigrants from Glasgow. Keillor's family belonged to the Plymouth Brethren, an Evangelical Christian movement that he has since left. In 2006, he told Christianity Today that he was attending the St. John the Evangelist Episcopal church in Saint Paul, after attending a Lutheran church in New York. Keillor graduated from Anoka High School in 1960 and from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor's degree in English in 1966. During college, he began his broadcasting career on the student-operated radio station known today as Radio K. In his 2004 book Homegrown Democrat: A Few Plain Thoughts from the Heart of America, Keillor mentions some of his noteworthy ancestors, including Joseph Crandall, an associate of Roger Williams, who founded Rhode Island and the first American Baptist church. Garrison Keillor started his professional radio career in November 1969 with Minnesota Educational Radio Minnesota Public Radio, which today distributes programs under the American Public Media brand.
He hosted a weekday drive-time broadcast called A Prairie Home Entertainment, on KSJR FM at St. John's University in Collegeville; the show's eclectic music was a major divergence from the station's usual classical fare. During this time he submitted fiction to The New Yorker magazine, where his first story for that publication, "Local Family Keeps Son Happy," appeared in September 1970. Keillor resigned from The Morning Program in February 1971 in protest of what he considered interference with his musical programming; when he returned to the station in October, the show was dubbed A Prairie Home Companion. Keillor has attributed the idea for the live Saturday night radio program to his 1973 assignment to write about the Grand Ole Opry for The New Yorker, but he had begun showcasing local musicians on the morning show, despite limited studio space. In August 1973, MER announced plans to broadcast a Saturday night version of A Prairie Home Companion with live musicians. A Prairie Home Companion debuted as an old-style variety show before a live audience on July 6, 1974.
The show is punctuated by spoof commercial spots for PHC fictitious sponsors such as Powdermilk Biscuits, the Ketchup Advisory Board, the Professional Organization of English Majors. Keillor voices Noir, the cowboy Lefty, other recurring characters, provides lead or backup vocals for some of the show's musical numbers; the show airs from the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul. After the show's intermission, Keillor reads clever and humorous greetings to friends and family at home submitted by members of the theater audience in exchange for an honorarium. In the second half of the show, Keillor delivers a monologue called The News from Lake Wobegon, a fictitious town based in part on Keillor's own hometown of Anoka, on Freeport and other small towns in Stearns County, where he lived in the early 1970s. Lake Wobegon is a quintessentially Minnesota small town characterized by the narrator as a place "... where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, all the children are above average."
The original PHC ran until 1987. In 1989, he launched a new live radio program from New York City, The American Radio Company of the Air, which had the same format as PHC. In 1992, he moved ARC back to St. Paul, a year changed the name back to A Prairie Home Companion. On a typical broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion, Keillor's name is not mentioned unless a guest addresses him by name, although some sketches feature Keillor as his alter ego, Carson Wyler. In the closing credits, which Keillor reads, he gives himself no billing or credit except "written by Sarah Bellum,"
Poor Richard's Almanack
Poor Richard's Almanack was a yearly almanac published by Benjamin Franklin, who adopted the pseudonym of "Poor Richard" or "Richard Saunders" for this purpose. The publication appeared continually from 1732 to 1758, it sold exceptionally well for a pamphlet published in the American colonies. Franklin, the American inventor and publisher, achieved success with Poor Richard's Almanack. Almanacks were popular books in colonial America, offering a mixture of seasonal weather forecasts, practical household hints and other amusements. Poor Richard's Almanack was popular for its extensive use of wordplay, some of the witty phrases coined in the work survive in the contemporary American vernacular; the Almanack contained the calendar, poems and astronomical and astrological information that a typical almanac of the period would contain. Franklin included the occasional mathematical exercise, the Almanack from 1750 features an early example of demographics, it is chiefly remembered, for being a repository of Franklin's aphorisms and proverbs, many of which live on in American English.
These maxims counsel thrift and courtesy, with a dash of cynicism. In the spaces that occurred between noted calendar days, Franklin included proverbial sentences about industry and frugality. Several of these sayings were borrowed from an earlier writer, Lord Halifax, many of whose aphorisms sprang from, "... basic skepticism directed against the motives of men and the age." In 1757, Franklin made a selection of these and prefixed them to the almanac as the address of an old man to the people attending an auction. This was published as The Way to Wealth, was popular in both America and England. Franklin borrowed the name "Richard Saunders" from the seventeenth-century author of Rider's British Merlin, a popular London almanac which continued to be published throughout the eighteenth century. Franklin created the Poor Richard persona based in part on Jonathan Swift's pseudonymous character, "Isaac Bickerstaff". In a series of three letters in 1708 and 1709, known as the Bickerstaff papers, "Bickerstaff" predicted the imminent death of astrologer and almanac maker John Partridge.
Franklin's Poor Richard, like Bickerstaff, claimed to be a philomath and astrologer and, like Bickerstaff, predicted the deaths of actual astrologers who wrote traditional almanacs. In the early editions of Poor Richard's Almanack and falsely reporting the deaths of these astrologers—much to their dismay—was something of a running joke. However, Franklin's endearing character of "Poor" Richard Saunders, along with his wife Bridget, was used to frame what was intended as a serious resource that people would buy year after year. To that end, the satirical edge of Swift's character is absent in Poor Richard. Richard was presented as distinct from Franklin himself referring to the latter as his printer. In editions, the original Richard Saunders character disappeared, replaced by a Poor Richard, who stood in for Franklin and his own practical scientific and business perspectives. By 1758, the original character was more distant from the practical advice and proverbs of the almanac, which Franklin presented as coming from "Father Abraham," who in turn got his sayings from Poor Richard.
Franklin published the first Poor Richard's Almanack on December 28, 1732, continued to publish new editions for 25 years, bringing him much economic success and popularity. The almanack sold as many as 10,000 copies a year. In 1735, upon the death of Franklin's brother, Franklin sent 500 copies of Poor Richard's to his widow for free, so that she could make money selling them. One of the appeals of the Almanack was that it contained various "news stories" in serial format, so that readers would purchase it year after year to find out what happened to the protagonists. One of the earliest of these was the "prediction" that the author's "good Friend and Fellow-Student, Mr. Titan Leeds" would die on October 17 of that year, followed by the rebuttal of Mr. Leeds himself that he would die, not on the 17th, but on October 26. Appealing to his readers, Franklin urged them to purchase the next year or two or three or four editions to show their support for his prediction; the following year, Franklin expressed his regret that he was too ill to learn whether he or Leeds was correct.
The ruse had its desired effect: people purchased the Almanack to find out, correct. For some writers the content of the Almanack became inextricably linked with Franklin's character—and not always to favorable effect. Both Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville caricatured the Almanack—and Franklin by extension—in their writings, while James Russell Lowell, reflecting on the public unveiling in Boston of a statue to honor Franklin, wrote:... we shall find out that Franklin was born in Boston, invented being struck with lightning and printing and the Franklin medal, that he had to move to Philadelphia because great men were so plenty in Boston that he had no chance, that he revenged himself on his native town by saddling it with the Franklin stove, that he discovered the almanac, that a penny saved is a penny lost, or something of the kind. The Almanack was a reflection of the norms and social mores of his times, rather than a philosophical document setting a path for new-freedoms, as the works of Franklin's contemporaries, Adams, or Paine were.