The 2014 Ed Kinney Speaker Series begins tonight with that quintessentially American humorist, Mark Twain.
The event is dubbed "An Evening with Mark Twain: A Musical Journey Out West," and has Pat Kaunert playing Twain accompanied by musician Dave Rainwater.
"Attendance has grown significantly for the 'An Evening with' programs," said Jennifer Amiel, Director of Education and series coordinator for Museum on Main. "People have discovered the series and especially enjoy the programs where actors portray historical characters."
In the speaker series, audiences come face to face with actors who look and sound as if they have stepped out from the pages of history books as well as speakers who are experts in their fields.
"There's something very special about getting up close with characters from the past," Amiel said. "This year, audiences will hear from Mark Twain, King Henry VIII, Henry Ford and even a Donner Party survivor, Margaret Breen."
All of the events begin at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays at the Firehouse Arts Center, 4444 Railroad Ave.
The 2014 schedule after January is as follows:
* Feb. 4: "An Evening with Hugh Liang: Eyewitness to the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake & Fire." The earthquake and subsequent fire destroyed nearly all of Chinatown. Unknown numbers of the 14,000 Chinatown residents were killed in the fire and the rest were displaced from their homes. Chinatown resident Hugh Liang is portrayed by Charlie Chin.
* March 11: "An Evening with Author Steve Minnear: Dublin & The Tri-Valley, The WWII Years." Minnear wrote the new Arcadia Publishing book on the military base and hospital activities in Camp Parks and Camp Shoemaker of Dublin during WWII.
* April 8: "An Evening with Seabiscuit Historian Jani Buron." Buron, the author of "The Spirit of Seabiscuit," is a former Pleasanton resident. She recollects her life on Ridgewood Ranch in the 1940s along with the top money-winning champion of his time, Seabiscuit, who trained for a short time in Pleasanton.
* May 13: "An Evening with Civil War Researcher Ernie Manzo: Bay Area Civil War Batteries & Forts." Civil War researcher Ernie Manzo discusses the Civil War Era batteries and forts that surrounded the San Francisco Bay Area. Most notable was the Presidio, the nerve center of a coastal defense system that included Fort Point, Alcatraz and Angel Island.
* June 10: "An Evening with King Henry VIII." Once described as one of the most charismatic rulers to sit on the English throne, King Henry VIII is known in modern times for his six marriages and his role in the separation of the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church. Frank Mullen, journalism teacher at the University of Nevada, portrays King Henry VIII.
* July 8: "An Evening with Donner Party Survivor Margaret Breen." Dr. Doris Dwyer takes the stage as Margaret Breen, a member of the ill-fated Donner Party. Breen joined the California wagon train of 81 pioneers who in 1846 found themselves trapped in the snow in the Sierra Nevada. Dwyer is a professor of history and humanities at Western Nevada College.
* Aug. 12: "An Evening with Henry Ford." American cultural history professor Dr. Doug Mishler takes the stage as the American industrialist and founder of the Ford Motor Co. Mishler will explore Ford's many sides including his support of welfare capitalism and his political positions during WWI and WWII.
* Sept. 9: "An Evening with Architect Charles Huff, AIA: Architecture in Downtown Pleasanton." Join Huff in a presentation on the architecture, renovation and restoration projects of key downtown Pleasanton structures over the years. He will particularly address the building at 603 Main St., originally built in 1914 as Pleasanton's Town Hall, now home to Museum on Main.
* Oct. 21: "An Evening with Albert Einstein." The season closes with Broadway and film actor Duffy Hudson in a highly anticipated return performance to Pleasanton as Albert Einstein, the great scientific thinker who revolutionized physics.
Tickets are $10 general admission; $7 seniors; $5 museum members, and $3 students/teachers. They may be purchased at Museum on Main, 603 Main St., during regular operating hours or by phoning the museum at 462-2766.
For more information, visit the museum website or phone 462-2766.