New Ray Bradbury Play

One of the great things about living in the Los Angeles area is your close proximity to lots of amazing cultural events. The entertainment business is based here and Los Angeles is an important gigantic city, so on any weekend (and most weekdays) one can see extraordinary concerts, speakers, dance exhibitions, art exhibitions, plays and musicals. We have four major art museums here in Pasadena alone.

Because of this, the finest artists, writers, actors, dancers and musicians are drawn to this area.

One of them that actually grew up here is my friend, Ray Bradbury. And, lucky us, Ray puts on plays of his work for nine months out of the year at the Fremont Centre Theatre in South Pasadena. Ray is there every Saturday night to introduce his plays and sign his books. Like I said, lucky us!

This last Sunday (Valentine’s Day) was extra special. Prior to the usual 3:00 PM matinee performance of one of his plays, Ray himself spoke for nearly an hour on the subject of Love.

I brought my youngest son James to the show. James is a big Bradbury fan but had never met him (it’s usually my other son Andy helping me out at my booth at Comic-Con when Ray comes by). I was pleased to be able to remedy this situation.

If you’ve never heard Ray Bradbury speak (a man I consider one of America’s Living Treasures), you have my sincerest sympathies.

One of the anecdotes in Ray’s talk concerned Gene Kelly and Singin’ in the Rain. After a screening of that film at which Kelly was present (only in L. A.!), Ray congratulated Gene on making one of the finest science fiction films ever. Mr. Kelly was taken aback at first until Ray explained that the backdrop subject of the film was how a new technology introduced into our culture can change everything. In this story’s case, it was the addition of sound to motion pictures.

Gene lit up. He and Ray were fast friends ever since that moment.

My son James insisted we watch Singin’ in the Rain after we returned home. You don’t need me to tell you what a flawless masterpiece that movie is — every single second. After hearing Ray talk about it, however, I saw it with new eyes.

The play we saw after Ray’s talk was Wisdom 2116, a musical originally written by Ray for his friend and mentor Charles Laughton and Laughton’s wife Elsa Lanchester, whose marriage inspired the play. Unfortunately, Laughton passed away before the play could be put on with those two as its stars.

This musical is based upon Ray’s O. Henry-like short story, “Marionettes, Inc.” Ray has altered the ending, changing it from a chilling horror tale into a meditation on love and aging. Magnificent!

This play will be up until February 27. If you live in this area (or will be visiting this area during its run), don’t miss it!

PS: Heads up! My big one man show career retrospective opens this Thursday at the Laguna College of Art + Design (see “Appearances” on this site for details). Don’t Miss it!

Me and Ray (sorry about the blur!)

Me and Ray (sorry about the blur!)

6 Responses to “New Ray Bradbury Play”

  1. Norm says:

    I was lucky enough to see him give a talk at the LA Times Festival of Books last year. It sounded like it covered some similar ground (love…the Gene Kelly story…stuff like that)
    I hope he’s back again this year….and that the Times listened to his “advice”

    I’ll also have to go by the Fremont Center Theater next time we’re down there. Do you know if he’ll have any plays going on in April?

  2. I met Ray Bradbury in 1986, but haven’t had a chance to talk to him since then. However, on Feb. 20 I’ll get to see him in person when I’m part of the 12-author gathering for THE BLEEDING EDGE anthology signing at Mystery & Imagination Bookstore in Glendale. It’ll be my first trip to Los Angeles and my first jaunt to California in over a decade.

  3. Bill says:

    This Bradbury-related message came in from Jim Aupperle on the “CineSaurus” post:
    Famous Monsters » Modern Mages: Jim Aupperle says:
    February 17, 2010 at 10:39 am

    In 1969 or 1970 word got out that Uncle Ray was coming to L.A. Forry had an open house for him, and Jon Berg got me an invitation. I lined up with another thirty or so fans to meet Ray, and there I met Steven Czerkas. Steve’s another visual-effects guy and is responsible for the great “Cine-Saurus” traveling dinosaur exhibition.

  4. Imran says:

    This comment isn’t about the legendary Ray Bradbury, but about the great “William Stout: Antarctica to Zombies” retrospective at the Laguna College of Art + Design, which I saw this past Saturday. I first heard about the exhibit in an e-newsletter from Flesk Publications, and I jumped on the opportunity to see so many original works by one of my favorite artists — in Orange County, where I live!

    i recognized a number of the pieces from various books, magazines, and the Comic Images trading card sets that I’d picked up over the years, but there’s nothing like seeing the original art, full-size and in person. Of course, there were also many wonderful pieces I’d never seen before.

    Just to add to the experience, Laguna Canyon is particularly green and lush after the recent rains, making for a very pleasant drive to the College. This is a must-see exhibit for all Stout fans anywhere near Orange County. Congratulations, Bill!

  5. jeremy says:

    Hey Bill, this isn’t Ray Bradbury related but I thought you would be interested. There’s this traveling show called “Walking with Dinosaurs” where they feature 17 life-size dinosaurs that roam around during the show. I’ll provide a link to there website at the bottom of this message and on there you can watch videos of the show. It looks awesome and the best part is it’ll be here in Louisville the same weekend as Wonderfest. My girlfriend and I are going to the attend the Sunday show. Where getting our tickets now so we’ll get great seats.

    http://www.dinosaurlive.com/about-the-show/

  6. Matt says:

    I discovered Ray Bradbury as a teenager in the 80’s in 50’s era books in the shed. My Dad had read them in his youth.
    The pages were yellowed with age even then, but treasures spilled out, ‘The Illustrated Man’, ‘The Martian Chronicles’, ‘A Sound of Thunder’….
    The lyrical and thoughtful quality of his stories have been inspirational to me and harken to a sense of wonder that is somewhat diminished as we begin to feel we have seen everything.

    You suck Bill! I’m so envious! 😉

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