Fahrenheit 451 burns bright in Keene

Mark DiPietro, a member of the Edge Ensemble Theatre Company, sent me this info about an interesting program in Keene.

 One year after Bradbury’s death, Fahrenheit 451 burns bright in Keene. Students, teachers, and actors unite for a marathon readers theatre production of his dystopian novel; elementary opera enthusiasts compose original performance piece
KEENE, N.H. – The Edge EnsembleTheatre Company will present a marathon Readers Theatre of Ray Bradbury’s 1953 novel, Fahrenheit 451, beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 11, at Heberton Hall-Keene Public Library Annex. 
The intent of a reading marathon – also known as a “long read” – is to encourage deep reading, or the old notion of “getting lost in a good book.” That idea has become foreign to many, especially young people, because of constant distractions like smart phones, iPads and iPods.
The Edge Ensemble, a resident theatre company that’s been in Keene since 1990, decided to combine the idea of a marathon read with a readers theatre, recruiting students from local schools as well as the Edge’s own ensemble performers and other community members as narrators and cast members.
Fahrenheit 451 seemed to be the perfect length for a marathon, and the subject matter couldn’t be more apt,” says Kim Dupuis, founding artistic director of The Edge Ensemble. “The themes Bradbury explored have only grown more relevant since the novel was published in 1953.”
Marathon reads have become popular tools on college campuses to encourage a deep appreciation of reading. Margaret Thickstun, a classics professor at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y., has been holding a “Milton marathon” for several years, during which her students and members of the Hamilton community spend 12 hours reading Paradise Lost. “These readings revive the notion that poetry is not a private, silent thing you do in a room with a piece of paper, but something you actually speak,” Thickstun told the New York Times in a 2011 interview.
Others have done the same with prose, including a professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, who has done a 24-hour War and Peace marathon. These marathons inspired Dupuis who, as the Edge’s artistic director, has worked on many educational projects with area school districts, to merge the idea of a marathon read with a readers theatre. Having Fahrenheit 451 as the group's inaugural readers theatre seemed a natural, and students from Keene Middle School, Monadnock Waldorf High School, Fall Mountain Regional High School, and Surry Village Charter School will participate as readers and cast members.
The Fahrenheit 451 project will also involve fifth- and sixth-grade members of the Opera Club at Ben Franklin Elementary School in Keene, who are writing an original performance piece based on Bradbury’s novel called “Operas Burning.” They’ll perform the piece at the Colonial Theatre in Keene this June, after participating in The Edge’s Fahrenheit marathon.
“Our goal is to get community members of all ages to come out for a day of reading a great novel that has much to say about contemporary society,” says Dupuis.
The May 11 event is free and open to the public, and is sponsored by the Keene Public Library. The Toadstool Bookshop of Keene donated copies of Fahrenheit 451 to The Edge Ensemble for its cast of readers.
The date of the event is just short of the one-year anniversary of Bradbury’s death. He died on June 5, 2012.
Permission for this reading of FAHRENHEIT 451 was granted by Don Congdon Associates, Inc. Copyright 1953, renewed 1981 by Ray Bradbury.

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