Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Ray Bradbury Forever Alive at 91...

One of my all-time favorite authors, Ray Bradbury, passed away yesterday at the age of 91.

A couple wonderful articles on his passing here and here, and an interesting article from two years ago here.

Below are re-posts from my blog in 2007 on Ray Bradbury:


Happy Birthday to Ray Bradbury (87)

Yes, it's Ray Bradbury's 87th birthday today. One of my all-time favorite writers. Back when I was 12 or so my brother, Ray (yes, I have a brother named Ray), gave me his worn paperback copy of The Martian Chronicles. I was immediately rocketed into space by this master of the metaphor. I've read that book countless times, and have since devoured many of his other tomes, including his period-piece detective/suspense thriller, "Death Is A Lonely Business" (another favorite of mine).

I'd highly recommend any (if not all) of the following classic titles:

The Novels:
The Martian Chronicles

Fahrenheit 451

Death Is a Lonely Business

The Short Story Collections:
The Illustrated Man

Bradbury Classic Stories 1 (which includes R is for Rocket and Golden Apples of the Sun)

Bradbury Classic Stories 2 (which includes S is for Space and Medicine For Melancholy)

The Toynbee Convector

On the Process of Writing:

Zen In The Art Of Writing

The Sam Weller Biography:
The Ray Bradbury Chronicles

So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RAY... from one "crazy" to another!

The Illustrated Man - stage play (review)

This past Sunday evening I attended the final performance of the one-man stage production of Ray Bradbury’s “The Illustrated Man”. It was another fine production by the Rubicon Theater Company at the now-famous Laurel Theater in Ventura. Tobias Andersen (veteran actor of TV and regional theater) gave a stunning two-act performance that lasted nearly two hours.

The play is loosely based on the concept of Bradbury’s famous novel, “The Illustrated Man” which centers around a wandering soul of a man with intricately designed full-body tattoos that eerily come to life and tell their tales. The stories used for the play were, instead, taken from other Bradbury short stories and novels.

From hilarious little stories about “The Murderer” (a man who confesses to killing off all the technological gadgets in his home), “There Was An Old Woman” (who is visited by the grim reaper who calls for her soul, though she’s determined to put up a fight), and the “Anthem Sprinters” (about a bunch of Irishmen who make a competition of racing out of movie theaters before their dreaded national anthem begins to play), to poignant stories such as “The Chicken Ranch Motel” (loosely based on Bradbury’s childhood memories of his family driving across the country during the Great Depression).

One story (“The Fog Horn”) was the lone weak segment of the performance. A story about an ancient sea monster who comes out of the ocean when it begins to hear the plaintive cry of a fog horn, thinking that it is another sea monster calling out in loneliness. As a short story it’s a wonderful piece of writing, but it didn’t translate well on the stage.

Easily the most powerful stories were two segments from Bradbury’s famous novel, “Fahrenheit 451” (the cautionary tale of censorship… or, more accurately, self-censorship). Andersen gave a rousing performance as the words just poured out of his mouth like a flood of truth. Absolutely stunning.

Ray Bradbury (87) was in attendance, and the audience give him a much-deserved round of applause when he entered the theater. Seated in his wheelchair in the front row, one could tell by his reaction to the production that he was thrilled to hear his own words tumble forth from the stage.

I’ve had the opportunity to meet him a few times in the mid- to late-90s, and I’ve always loved his writing. Sam Weller’s biography "The Bradbury Chronicles" is a wonderful read and a unique peek into the life of this most prolific writer. And, of course, read lots and lots of Bradbury!


No comments: