Being Benjamin Franklin

If there's anything worse for an actor than a small audience, I guess it's no audience at all. If there's anything worse for a reviewer than a small audience I haven't met it yet.

Including the house staff there were approximately twenty people attending what was a fine performance by Burdette Parks at the FlynnSpace last Friday evening, Sept. 14. Parks, who lives in the Adirondacks and is associated with Pendragon Theatre in Saranac Lake, has toured one show about Benjamin Franklin in the past, and has been touring this particular one-man show recently, Benjamin Franklin, Printer, &tc., which he assembled based on numerous biographical works about Franklin in honor of Franklin's 300th birthday, which occurred last year.

The theme of this story is Franklin life as a publisher and as a wordsmith, as well as Franklin the diplomat to the court of France. We have here Franklin the saucy, Franklin the aphorist, Frank- lin the cagey, and Franklin the timely.

Parks frequently points out Franklin's ability to meet with every situation, and he makes the audience aware that Franklin was a very serious man as well as a very irreverent and funny man.

In the program notes, Parks states: "As a printer and businessman, Ben Franklin defined the beginnings of Americanism...as a public servant, he was intimately involved in the machinations that separated the colonies from Great Britain and set a new course for the New World...and as the best-known and most highly regarded American in Europe, Franklin's prestige was vital in securing the support and aid that made it possible to win the Revolution."

The theater program also says that Parks, as Franklin, "... delights, amazes, informs and amuses 21st-century audiences just as the original did twelve generations ago."

This is certainly true. Parkss timing is impeccable, his diction perfect, his investiture in the character of Franklin complete. In fact, the only thing that stopped him from fully realizing the above quote is the fact that there wasn't much of an audience.

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