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Literary Twist

“Once read, Ray Bradbury’s words are never forgotten,” according to www.raybradbury.com.

As one of the most influential writers of the 20th century–and a Waukegan native–Bradbury, 89, was celebrated October 29th at the Fifth Annual Ray Bradbury Storytelling Festival hosted by the Waukegan Public Library, at the Genessee Theatre. Bradbury has written more than five hundred published works: short stories, novels, plays, screenplays, and television scripts.

Since Bradbury’s favorite holiday and inspiration is Halloween, the festival didn’t disappoint with thrilling stories of horror. Mother Nature, dead brides, gypsies, and evil skeletons all set the mood for the true spirit of the holiday. Kelly Callen, a Waukegan High School senior, and one of my closest friends, even composed a song called “For You,” which won her a cash prize and two free tickets to the show .

Jim May got the ball rolling with “True Stories of Genesee Ghosts.” He gave the theater a voice, reporting that “every murder or tragedy ever played on this stage, every movie ever shown, every reaction of the audience; all those emotions are here haunting.” He spoke of a little girl named Jennie, who runs around giggling and untying the shoelaces ofthe employees, but this little girl is also troubled: many have heard her cries
for help.

Before beginning her story, Janice DelNegro told us she read gothic love novels until her brother-in-law introduced her to Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine. To this day, she believes “his writing [is] still as beautiful as the day he wrote it.” DelNegro truly captivated her audience by telling her tale of a woman named Lucy who promises to sew a lucky pair of trousers for a very superstitious man. Lucy encounters a monster while sewing, but there’s a twist: Lucy isn’t terrified of this monster, she simply walks out unharmed. As the night went on, Mike Speller came on stage in nothing but P.J’s, to prepare us for the thriller, Gotcha. This story had everyone clinging to their seats. He embodied the spirit of Bradbury’s storytelling.

The last storyteller was Megan Wells with Oliver Twist, in keeping with the “Literary Twist” theme of this year’s festival. Wells was wonderful, using different accents to make each character come to life. At the end of the show, I had a greater appreciation for Bradbury. So I will leave you with some wise words from the author:

“I have two rules in life—to hell with it, whatever it is, and get your work done.” AND “If you can’t read and write, you can’t think. Your thoughts are dispersed if you don’t know how to read and write. You’ve got to be able to look at your thoughts on paper and discover what a fool you were.”

Image from Wikimedia Commons. Available under Creative Commons licence.

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