Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451: A Free Reading by Featuring Neil Gaiman, William Shatner, Susan Orlean & More

Today, the world cel­e­brates the 100th anniver­sary of Ray Brad­bury’s birth­day. And, to mark the occa­sion, Neil Gaiman, William Shat­ner, Susan Orlean & many oth­ers will host a read­ing of Brad­bury’s clas­sic book, Fahren­heit 451.

The online spe­cial, like the book, is sep­a­rat­ed into three parts, each intro­duced by Librar­i­an of Con­gress Car­la Hay­den. The voic­es of librar­i­ans, notable authors, actors, schol­ars, and stu­dents are book­end­ed by the open­ing and clos­ing read­ings from Neil Gaiman and William Shat­ner. The spe­cial includes com­men­tary by Ann Druyan, direc­tor and co-author of Cos­mos, an after­word by Susan Orlean, author of The Library Book, and a spe­cial appear­ance and read­ing by for­mer NASA astro­naut and admin­is­tra­tor Charles F. Bold­en Jr.

You can watch the videos the read­ing  the videos above and below. The videos should be avail­able until Sep­tem­ber 5th.

Part 2

Part 3

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

Why Should We Read Ray Bradbury’s Fahren­heit 451? A New TED-Ed Ani­ma­tion Explains

Ray Brad­bury Reveals the True Mean­ing of Fahren­heit 451: It’s Not About Cen­sor­ship, But Peo­ple “Being Turned Into Morons by TV”

Father Writes a Great Let­ter About Cen­sor­ship When Son Brings Home Per­mis­sion Slip to Read Ray Bradbury’s Cen­sored Book, Fahren­heit 451

An Asbestos-Bound, Fire­proof Edi­tion of Ray Bradbury’s Fahren­heit 451 (1953)

New Edi­tion of Ray Bradbury’s Fahren­heit 451 That’s Only Read­able When You Apply Heat to Its Pages: Pre-Order It Today

A Teas­er Trail­er for Fahren­heit 451: A New Film Adap­ta­tion of Ray Bradbury’s Ever-Rel­e­vant Nov­el

Hear Ray Bradbury’s Clas­sic Sci-Fi Sto­ry Fahren­heit 451 as a Radio Dra­ma

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  • Tobias Andersen says:

    I con­fess that I’m a bit tak­en aback that I was not asked to be a part of the Brad­bury read­ings. Per­haps you weren’t aware of my con­tri­bu­tion as I no longer live in L.A.

    I cre­at­ed the part of Fire Cap­tain Beat­ty on stage. Pro­duced the play twice more–bussing in stu­dents for morn­ing per­for­mance fol­lowed by dis­cus­sion peri­ods (this was in Port­land).

    Ray and I lat­er wrote The Illus­trat­ed Brad­bury, a one man play fea­tur­ing nine of his sto­ries and an epi­logue. Reviews includ­ed. The play was pub­lished a few years ago by Dra­mat­ic Pub­lish­ing.

    An adap­ta­tion of Fahren­heit that I wrote in the 90s will be in the 2021 sea­son of Indi­ana Reper­to­ry, virus per­mit­ting.

    The two vol­umes of my cor­re­spon­dence with Ray over the years—including every­thing from scripts and pho­tos to car­toons and poet­ry are now with The Cen­ter for Ray Brad­bury Stud­ies, a muse­um in Indi­anapo­lis, con­nect­ed to Indi­ana Uni­ver­si­ty.

    ‘The Illus­trat­ed Brad­bury’ at Pasade­na’s Fre­mont The­atre

    Jack­ie Houch­in
    Feb­ru­ary 22, 2009

    — The­atre Review

    A boy encoun­ters a stranger clothed tight­ly from chin to wrist, sweat­ing in the heat of a summer´s day. He enquires why the man does not unbut­ton his shirt. The stranger casts woe­ful eyes upon the lad and states, “You´ll be sor­ry you asked.”

    So begins ´The Illus­trat­ed Brad­bury,´ a play inspired by Ray Bradbury´s 1951 book about a man cov­ered with ani­mat­ed tat­toos (“in a for­est of chest hair” and “peak­ing from arm-pit caves”).

    “They´ll tell your future and your death,” warns the man, but the boy can­not tear away his eyes as the fig­ures come to life on the man´s tor­so like tiny movies. Lucky for us he watch­es and records…

    There are ten nar­ra­tives in this “liv­ing anthol­o­gy” select­ed from over 500 of the author´s sto­ries pub­lished from 1944 – 1990. They fea­ture men and women, birds and beasts … even a few extrater­res­tri­als. Some of the tales tick­le the fun­ny bone; oth­ers pre­dict doom. All are delight­ful­ly imag­i­na­tive.

    But what else would one expect from the mas­ter of fan­ta­sy and sci­ence fic­tion?

    Cel­e­brat­ed actor Tobias Ander­sen per­forms each of these tales (18 char­ac­ters in all) with such diver­si­ty the audi­ence soon for­gets it´s a one-man show. In flaw­less, ani­mat­ed mono­logues, chang­ing only his facial expres­sion and phys­i­cal atti­tude (and per­haps a hat), Ander­son morphs from mad pris­on­er to elder­ly spin­ster to talk­ing par­rot with the ease of a magi­cian.

    In “The Mur­der­er” a straight­jack­et­ed man tells how he sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly, and with glee, destroys the intru­sive tech­nol­o­gy that con­trols his life. “The silence was beau­ti­ful,” he claims, “after I mur­dered my house.”

    In a creepy moon­lit scene, a mariner eulo­gizes “The Foghorn” and the beast from the deeps that answers its mourn­ful call.

    A mer­ry (and per­haps a wee bit tip­sy) Dublin man explains his ver­sion of the Irish Olympics in “The Anthem Sprint­ers.”

    In the delight­ful “There Was an Old Woman,” a spry old maid argues with a per­sis­tent young man car­ry­ing a wick­er bas­ket (not a specter with a scythe) that she doesn´t believe in death. But the “dark thief” out­waits her, and after a brief cat­nap, Tildy wak­ens to dis­cov­er she´s a ghost. Incensed, she grabs her umbrel­la and strides off­stage to the mor­tu­ary to reclaim her body. After a brief inter­mis­sion, the audi­ence is treat­ed to a hilar­i­ous scene, in which the stub­born Tildy black­mails the mor­ti­cian into return­ing her body. Bra­vo, Tobias Ander­son, for that aston­ish­ing­ly believ­able per­for­mance as a feisty old lady pulling on her body like a pair of paja­mas!

    Ander­son con­tin­ues to amaze the audi­ence in the com­ic-noir “The Par­rot Who Met Papa,” where he plays a pri­vate eye, a Cuban bar­tender, a gang­ster, a par­rot and the ine­bri­at­ed Hem­ming­way. The sto­ry has a delight­ful and unex­pect­ed twist at the end, which he pulls off per­fect­ly.

    His mono­logue as Fire Cap­tain Beat­ty in “Fahren­heit 451” is deliv­ered with heat and inten­si­ty, but with a mere change of stance and expres­sion, he eas­i­ly switch­es to the light­heart­ed tom­fool­ery of time-trav­el­er Stiles in “The Toyn­bee Con­vec­tor.”

    “The Illus­trat­ed Brad­bury” is a per­fect meld­ing of writ­ing and act­ing tal­ent from an actor-writer rela­tion­ship that goes back 30 years. With David Smith-English´s able direc­tion, and Ray Bradbury´s many mur­murs of approval of on open­ing night, the­ater­go­ers can be assured of an evening of out­stand­ing enter­tain­ment.

    The Los Ange­les pre­mier of “The Illus­trat­ed Man” runs Fri­days & Sat­ur­days at 8:00 pm, Sun­days at 3:00 pm through March 8, 2009.

    Admis­sion is $20 (seniors, $15 & stu­dents, $10). Call (323) 960‑4451 for reser­va­tions.

    The Fre­mont Cen­tre The­atre is locat­ed at 1000 Fre­mont Ave, (at El Cen­tro), South Pasade­na, Cal­i­for­nia, 91030. There is plen­ty of park­ing behind the the­atre.

    Cau­tion: One story,“A Grave­yard for Lunatics.” may be reli­gious­ly offen­sive to some.
    Los Ange­les Exam­in­er

    Jana Mon­ji
    LA The­ater Reviews Exam­in­er

    “The Illus­trat­ed Brad­bury”: Two Sto­ry­tellers Join to Enter­tain
    Feb­ru­ary 27, 11:23 AM

    If you’ve been under a rock on Earth or on Mars, then let me inform you that Ray Brad­bury isn’t dead–he’s tak­en to the stage. He’s not on stage, but his plays are. His com­pa­ny has been rent­ing a small South Pasade­na the­ater, the Fre­mont Cen­tre The­atre, with mixed results. This out­ing, “The Illus­trat­ed Brad­bury,” joins two sto­ry tellers–Bradbury who adapt­ed the sto­ries and Tobias Ander­sen, for an enter­tain­ing two hours.

    I was­n’t a fan of the last install­ment, “The Won­der­ful Ice Cream Suit,” but the one-man show, “The Illus­trat­ed Brad­bury,” mak­ing its Los Ange­les area pre­miere is a win­ner. The humor is gen­tle and the nine tales that Ander­sen has cho­sen are not sci­ence fic­tion.

    “The Illus­trat­ed Man” serves as a means of fram­ing the sto­ries. Orig­i­nal­ly writ­ten in 1951, dur­ing a time when tat­toos were for sailors, drunk dares, yakuza recruits or freak shows, this tale and oth­ers illus­trate the changes we’ve seen here in Amer­i­ca. About a tat­tooed man, but played un-tat­tooed by Ander­sen (in black shirt and pants), the tat­toos are not what make the char­ac­ter a freak and per­haps today, an even more alarm­ing tale could be writ­ten, riff­ing off on the sto­ry’s con­ceit.

    More top­i­cal is the 1953 tale, “The Mur­der­er,” where a man begins to mur­der the elec­tron­ic con­trap­tions that con­trol our lives–beginning with the phone. If you haven’t been annoyed by cell phone usage and users in today’s Amer­i­ca, then you might need to take a good long look in the mir­ror and enroll in a 12-step self-help pro­gram to wean you from your cell phone, Black­ber­ry or what­ev­er.

    One sto­ry that has a spe­cial sig­nif­i­cance in today’s econ­o­my is “The Inspired Chick­en Motel,” set dur­ing the Great Depres­sion and show­ing how a fam­i­ly finds cheap lodg­ing and inspi­ra­tion to be kinder to teach oth­er. There’s also an excerpt from “Fahren­heit 451,” of course.

    If you’re a fan of Brad­bury, he always shows up on open­ing night and at some oth­er per­for­mances. All of the sto­ries in this per­for­mance as well as all of Brad­bury’s writ­ings, accord­ing to Ander­sen who spoke briefly to the audi­ence after the per­for­mance, show a total love and opti­mism Brad­bury has for humanity–even dur­ing these times or per­haps, espe­cial­ly dur­ing these times.

    Under the direc­tion of David Smith ‑Eng­lish, the pace is leisure­ly, but fit­ting. The set and light­ing design by Christo­pher Whit­ten is minimal–a black stage with a tree rep­re­sent­ed by wire. It’s actu­al­ly a dis­guised hat stand for the props that help Ander­sen estab­lish dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters. To one side, Ander­sen has a table with water.

    “The Illus­trat­ed Brad­bury,” Ends March 8. Fre­mont Cen­tre The­atre, 1000 Fre­mont Ave. (at El Cen­tro), South Pasade­na, CA. Fri­days-Sat­ur­days, 8 p.m.; Sun­days, 8 p.m. $20-$10.

    Dai­ly Sun­di­al
    ‘The Illus­trat­ed Brad­bury’ is a mes­mer­iz­ing ride

    Aubrey Can­field / Con­tribut­ing Reporter

    Mon­day, Feb­ru­ary 23, 2009

    You might know Ray Brad­bury from nov­els such as “Fahren­heit 451” and “Some­thing Wicked This Way Comes.” Aside from being an inter­na­tion­al­ly acclaimed nov­el­ist he is also an author of short sto­ries, screen­plays and poet­ry. “The Illus­trat­ed Brad­bury” is a col­lec­tion of some of his most mem­o­rable works.

    Tobias Ander­sen, cre­ator of Cap­tain Beat­ty in the orig­i­nal “Fahren­heit 451,” stars in the one-man play and sin­gle hand­ed­ly brings each of Bradbury’s char­ac­ters to life in mes­mer­iz­ing won­der­ment. The Fre­mont The­atre in South Pasade­na is an inti­mate venue, with no more than 50 seats. The stage was almost com­plete­ly bare except for a stool and a tree con­struct­ed out of iron and chick­en wire; adorned with var­i­ous hats and props. The audi­ence pon­dered in eager antic­i­pa­tion what might await them.

    Ander­sen casu­al­ly strolled out onto the stage, but even motion­less he was cap­ti­vat­ing. He began to describe the illus­trat­ed man, and it was as if I could see this char­ac­ter mate­ri­al­ize in front of my eyes. His com­mit­ment to each of the many char­ac­ters he plays is aston­ish­ing. Ander­sen believes in his char­ac­ters and so we the audi­ence believe it — when he casts a mimed cig­a­rette to the floor, one can hear it.

    Bradbury’s sto­ries are fan­tas­tic, apoc­ryphal and opti­mistic. Once of the pieces “The Inspired Chick­en Motel” was the sto­ry of his fam­i­ly dur­ing the Great Depres­sion. Trav­el­ing across coun­try, the fam­i­ly strug­gled to stay afloat. The piece couldn’t be more time­ly or appro­pri­ate for these tough times, embod­ied by the phrase, “rest in peace, pros­per­i­ty is near.”

    “The Illus­trat­ed Brad­bury” is more than a col­lec­tion of enter­tain­ing tales. It is an insight­ful social com­men­tary and an appro­pri­ate homage to one of the most pro­found writ­ers of our time.

    “The Illus­trat­ed Brad­bury” is play­ing at Fre­mont Cen­tre The­atre Feb. 21 to March 8. Stu­dent tick­ets are avail­able for $10 at http://www.plays411.com.
    Your Low-Tek New­sTM

    Week of Feb­ru­ary 23rd, 2009 Vol. 14-No. 8

    The Fre­mont Cen­ter The­atre of South Pasade­na presents the Los Ange­les pre­mier of THE ILLUSTRATED BRADBURY, fea­tur­ing Tobias Ander­son who “illus­trates” a selec­tion of short sto­ries and tales writ­ten by Ray Brad­bury.
    In this show, Tobias Ander­sen acts out through his sto­ry­telling skills a group of ten chron­i­cles and pas­sages that show­cas­es the eclec­tic world that the author and play­wright has cre­at­ed that can be a par­al­lel world based upon the per­son that expe­ri­ences each one. Don­ning a black t‑shirt and trousers, he acts out a slice of a life using The Illus­trat­ed Man–the vin­tage 1951 sto­ry of a mys­te­ri­ous man whose body is com­plete with tat­toos that speak for them­selves, as the focal point. From there, the jour­ney begins where his char­ac­ter morphs into many, from a Irish­man that con­vers­es about a mag­i­cal the­ater, the old lady to springs back to life insist­ing that the care­tak­ers of her body puts her back in place, the man who “mur­dered” his phone because the device was tak­ing over his life, a gumshoe that inves­ti­gates a par­rot who knew Papa Hem­ing­way in Havana, a “Prince of Peace” who links a Hol­ly­wood con­nec­tion, and the world where fire­men do not douse the flames of burn­ing books, but rather starts them up! These and many oth­ers, make up the uni­verse that the play­wright had dis­cov­ered.
    And what a dis­cov­ery indeed! This show is a mul­ti­work of a mas­ter­ful actor (Tobias Ander­sen), a superb direc­tor (David Smith-Eng­lish), and a writer whose work is so cre­ative and down­right per­fect, it’s almost scary! Even though Tobias is seen on stage, his props and a few pieces of head­gear are his tools, and his back­ground is a blue-ish back­drop with a metal­lic tree (thanks to Christo­pher Whit­ten’s scenic and light­ing design). It’s real­ly an illus­trat­ed radio dra­ma. One can hear and feel the char­ac­ters speak through Ander­son­’s voice and emo­tions. This is a show that proves itself in spades that less is more! One can even close one’s eyes and still feel the emo­tion that all cre­ative forces placed upon it.
    One spe­cial note to this show that Brad­bury writes with the notion of using love and pos­i­tive emo­tions into every sen­tence and word. Some of its char­ac­ters and actions may not express­es such love per se, but in short, every ele­ment falls into its one place in its own time. Only a hand­ful or writ­ers came remote­ly close to this the­o­ry, yet Ray Brad­bury is the sole body to ful­ly com­plete this assign­ment! When the time comes when this writer genius is ready to head off to anoth­er world, there will be no suc­ces­sor to his throne! And in this cur­rent world no mat­ter how high tech it may be, the spo­ken and print­ed word of this man will still live on!

    THE ILLUSTRATED BRADBURY, per­forms at the Fre­mont Cen­tre The­atre, 1000 Fre­mont Avenue, South Pasade­na, until March 8th. Show­times are Fri­day and Sat­ur­day nights @ 8:00 PM, and Sun­day after­noons @ 3:00 PM. Reser­va­tions, call (323) 960‑4429, or via the web site at http://www.Plays411.com/RayBradbury.
    Vis­it Ray’s web­site at http://www.RayBradbury. com

    The Illus­trat­ed Bradbury—Arena Stage at Theatre/Theatre—SE Port­land
    This one-man show, star­ring the­atre vet­er­an, Tobias Ander­sen, is writ­ten by Ray Brad­bury (based on selec­tions from his nov­els and short sto­ries) and direct­ed by David Smith-Eng­lish. It will play at 7:30 pm through April 7th at the theatre’s loca­tion at 3430 SE Bel­mont St. For more infor­ma­tion and reser­va­tions call 503–593-1295.
    Echoes of Bradbury…Running
    All sto­ries start with an idea. But it can­not be brow­beat­en into exis­tence. “Under such treat­ment, of course, any decent idea folds up its paws, turns on its back, fix­es its eyes on eter­ni­ty, and dies” (Just this side of Byzan­tium by Brad­bury). Tech­ni­cal­ly, most peo­ple can write, but not every­body is a sto­ry­teller. In this regard then, Brad­bury is a sto­ry­teller extra­or­di­naire’.
    If you have not par­tak­en of the feast that is Bradbury—shame on you. You are miss­ing some­thing impor­tant in your diet. The most rec­og­niz­able of his writ­ings (most­ly because films or plays have been made of them) are The Illus­trat­ed Man, The Mar­t­ian Chron­i­cles, Fahren­heit 451, Some­thing Wicked Comes This Way and my favorite, Dan­de­lion Wine. And now we have Mr. Ander­sen, wax­ing poet­ic upon the boards, lov­ing­ly re-cre­at­ing the digestible words of this pro­lif­ic, poet­ic, prog­en­i­tor of the writ­ten word.
    Like Rod Ser­ling and his Twi­light Zone, most of his sto­ries have a moral or mes­sage at the heart of them. They exist in the world of Fan­ta­sy, as it alone allows a sense of free­dom to explore all pos­si­bil­i­ties of exis­tence. But, as far-out as his sto­ries seem, he has dipped his pen into his heart and writes with blood. We can all iden­ti­fy, if not agree, on his views of life. His writ­ing is uni­ver­sal, as was Shakespeare’s, and that’s what will make him immor­tal.
    A play, to do jus­tice to all the thou­sand of stories/characters he cre­at­ed, would take weeks to por­tray on the stage. But this selec­tion does give a good cross-sec­tion of his works. The tales seem to emanate from a tat­tooed man that a stranger meets on the road. His body, seem­ing to write prophet­ic sto­ries on its flesh, of those who stare too long at it. And, thus, these few tales take life.
    The Mur­der­er con­cerns a man who has com­mit­ted a great crime, he has mur­dered all the…electronic gad­gets that seem to be con­trol­ling his life. This was writ­ten in the 50’s, about a future world of con­stant noise, inter­rup­tions into one’s nor­mal life, of elec­tron­ics that are con­tin­u­al­ly giv­ing infor­ma­tion, intru­sion and inter­rup­tion of the nat­ur­al rhythm of liv­ing. Any resem­blance to cur­rent affairs is entirely…intentional.
    The Foghorn is con­cerned with the lone­ly keep­er of a light­house that, when acti­vat­ing the foghorn, dis­cov­ers an eerie answer­ing cry out of the depths of the ocean…from the age of dinosaurs. A love-struck ani­mal look­ing for its mate? The Inspired Chick­en Motel is based part­ly on a true sto­ry of his fam­i­ly mov­ing around dur­ing the Depres­sion, look­ing for work. Instead they find a hen that lays an egg with a prophet­ic mes­sage on it for them: Rest in Peace; Pros­per­i­ty is Near.
    Oth­er sto­ries include an Irish­man who finds sport in sprint­ing from a movie the­atre before the nation­al anthem is played; an old woman who refus­es to die and promis­es to wreck hav­oc on her keep­ers if she isn’t returned post-haste to her body; and Hemingway’s par­rot, who just might hold an unpub­lished nov­el of his in its brain.
    More include the Fire Cap­tain (from Fahren­heit 451, a role Ander­sen orig­i­nat­ed onstage) declar­ing that peo­ple them­selves have rid us of our books because of the MTV men­tal­i­ty of switch­ing ideas so quick­ly it doesn’t allow us time to think about any­one of them in any depth. A world in which facts give us data, but no mean­ing behind it. A world where Intel­lec­tu­al is a swear word. A world, per­haps, not of Fan­ta­sy any­more, but of real­i­ty?!
    Also includ­ed is a sto­ry about a man who invents a time machine which goes into the future…or does it? And the final con­clu­sion, a reli­gious earth­ling who, build­ing a Tem­ple on Mars, dis­cov­ers that the old race has found peace, har­mo­ny and hap­pi­ness by divest­ing them­selves of mate­r­i­al con­nec­tions, so has no need any­more of such trap­pings.
    The relater/portrayer/inhabiter of this menagerie of Brad­bury writ­ings is a the­atre icon him­self, Tobias Ander­sen. He engulfs the 15 or so char­ac­ters he enacts. He slips eas­i­ly from an Irish­man, to an old lady, to a Flori­da detec­tive, to a futur­ist sci­en­tist, et. al. with such ease that you don’t even notice that it is only one actor cre­at­ing this smor­gas­bord of delight­ful, tempt­ing cre­ations. It is a show, a per­for­mance, for the ages. Look, Lis­ten and Learn from the Mas­ters, Mr. Brad­bury and Mr. Ander­sen.
    I believe if Tobias peered very close­ly at a patch of bare skin on the Illus­trat­ed Man, he would not only see a reflec­tion of his vis­age appear, but a blend­ed one with Ray. Bra­vo! I would high­ly rec­om­mend this show. If you do choose to go, please tell them Den­nis sent you.

  • VP of Organically produced books of Paramore Industries says:

    As you have seen my peo­ple are going through the third indus­tri­al stage in Paramore Indus­tries and no one has wit­nessed this unfor­tu­nate reflec­tion of thus the book cen­sor­ship neglect. Please write back…

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