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Archikulture Digest

by Carl F Gauze

Ben Franklin: An Ingenious Life

Ben Franklin: An Ingenious Life
Created and Performed by Ray Flint
Presented at the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre

“Sometimes opportunity knocks more than once,” and that sums up the life of America’s first true polymath, Ben Franklin. Today’s youth knows him best for his work on the $100 bill, but in his lifetime he was a printer, a political activist and a major technology innovator in a land that still feared Indian attacks. Like all good one man evenings, Ray Flint has the middle aged, successful build we associate with Franklin. He’s done his research and knows about as much as one can about this man who would be 311 if he were alive today. Interesting factoid: Franklin was the youngest son of a youngest son going back 300 years. Well, someone has to do it.

We meet Mr. Franklin in his study at the Santos Dantin Theatre space; here he discusses his childhood, the misery of being indentured to his older brother and beaten regularity as an act of brotherly love. He became good at printing and better at writing; his letters to the editor were anonymous yet well received. He ended up as the biggest print shop in Philadelphia, and after he retired in his 40s he took up politics. London and Paris were his preferred postings; he was the colonial agent to the Crown for the colonies of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Georgia. When the Unites States came to be he badgered the French government to support the colonies with troops and skillfully used an age-old European grudge to our favor.

As Franklin, Flint keeps us on our toes and he clearly holds more anecdotes than will fit in to an already lengthy 90 minute evening. Unlike many one person shows there’s an intermission; it’s a risky business in these days of short attention spans. After the show Flynt hangs around (out of the heavy wig and constraining waistcoat) to answer historical and not so historical question about himself and this project. This is the sort of history we can all enjoy: enlightening, bright, and no scary essay questions on the test.

For more information on Mr. Flint’s show, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/FlyntPlay/

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