Students perform in Ron Powers play

Two of Castleton’s own, Morgan Bernhard and Andrew McDuff, are to play starring roles in Ron Powers’ upcoming two act play Sam and Laura in Middlebury.Powers is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, novelist, and non-fiction writer who serves as writer-in-residence at Castleton State. With James Bradley, he also co-wrote the 2000 #1 New York Times Bestseller Flags of Our Fathers.

Powers’ has crafted a play based on the story of Mark Twain’s encounter with a young Laura Wright.

“My entire life, I’ve known of Mark Twain. I grew up seeing his face on the back of milk trucks. He was a staple of an American literature movement. In my research for my biography of Twain “MARK TWAIN: A LIFE”, I came upon his encounter with a 14-year-old Laura Wright. Now, their encounter only lasted three days, but it was one which affected each of them in an unexplainable way,” Powers said.

Bernhard plays the role of young Samuel Clemens, who in 1858, on the New Orleans riverfront, met the young Ms. Wright. McDuff plays C.O. Byrd who escorted the aging Laura to a Hollywood speakeasy in 1925 to celebrate her 80th birthday and coaxes from her the story of the romance and the lifelong effects of it on both the young lovers.

Barbara (Usle) Harding, who is a fellow Spartan Class of ’78, is directing the piece.

She also expresses great joy in her ability to work with not only the talent of Powers, but that of Bernhard and McDuff as well.

“I am directing a good friend and playwright . as well as working with these two talented CSC actors, Morgan and Andrew, who bring to the production their insightful characterizations and in-depth knowledge of the stage. Plus they are a lot of fun!”

The play has already been performed in several venues around the country.

Upon seeing his work preformed, Powers said his expectations were more than exceeded.

The upcoming performances of Sam and Laura will be on Nov. 11-14 with the Sunday performance being a matinee. The show will be at the Town Hall Theater in Middlebury. For more information visit the website at

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