Ray Bradbury: The Passing of a Literary Icon

Many of you, like me, probably had your first introduction to Mr. Bradbury in a high school English class, reading Fahrenheit 451. By the way, I’d also like to take a moment to say thank you to Mr. Hansen, my Soph Honors Eng teacher, for including this book among the many others our class read, discussed, and felt-sometimes love, sometimes hate…but always passionate-about.

A few years later I was cast as the extraterrestrial Ylla in a production of The Martian Chronicles at Stage 2 Theatre in Bradbury’s hometown of Waukegan, IL. This was an exciting project for me. I was only 17, and it was my first “real” show-meaning it had a run of longer than a few weeks and I actually earned a paycheck (a pathetically SMALL paycheck, but it was still really cool!). Playing a martian who could converse through telepathy was an interesting role. I got to do some voice-over work for my “mental dialogue” that was then played during the show.  Quite the learning experience!  To top it off, Bradbury, known for his loyalty to his roots, provided the vocal narration for the production, in a series of recordings that were played as each scene transitioned from one to the next, following the episodic chapters of MC.  I have a newspaper clipping with a picture of me as Ylla, along with my Martian husband, Yll-but I have no clue where it is hiding, or even if still have it. This production was nearly 20 years ago, and I’ve had no luck finding details about it on the interwebs either. 20 years ago, or not – I can still remember kneeling on stage in the dark, waiting for the show to begin. The strange musical arrangement created for the show began: a blend of wind chimes and other discordant yet harmonious sounds that silenced the audience more effectively than the house lights going down. Then, as the stage lights slowly grew brighter, the voice of Bradbury described the scene, and I slipped more fully into the skin of my character.

That Bradbury was a literary titan is inarguable-who knows just how far and wide the impact of his words were felt:  just take a look at this article in The Guardian, and you’ll see what I mean. From President Obama to Stephen King, he influenced the minds and imaginations of so many, who exponentially influenced many more. His life was is a testament to the power of words, and the significance of an engaging story.

 

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