One night, long ago when I was 9 years old my father walks into my room reading The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe.
Now my father was a very dramatic fellow, and this was quite a spirited performance.
I found the poem to be haunting and sad and a bit scary. I mean what the hell was this bird doing in this guy's bedroom?
When this impromptu performance had concluded my father informed me that we were going to learn this poem and perform it together for the family on Halloween.
Now you have to understand that my father was also an actor so the idea of performing this for the family was very exciting.
I began to read and memorize The Raven. And while immersing myself in this poem I read The Tell-Tale Heart, The Black Cat and The Cask of Amontillado (I assure you my fellow third graders did not share my enthusiasm for Edgar Allan Poe.)
I had committed to memory nearly a third of the poem when I realized that my father wasn’t studying the poem and this had been, perhaps a trick to get me to read Poe. Well it worked and Edgar Allan Poe was now firmly anchored in my psyche.
Fast forward several years and I am now a professional actor. I received a form letter from a booking agency specializing in one person shows of historical characters. I didn’t have such a show so I threw the letter in the trash. Here is where Fate intervened. The letter landed face up and open on the top of the trash can and every time I walked through the kitchen I glanced down a read more of the letter. They were looking for historical characters, shows no longer than an hour. They said that there were hundreds of local venues looking for such performances and listed a ball park fee they were willing to pay for each performance.
Well I’m an actor and actors are always looking for a job so the wheels started turning and by the third pass through the kitchen the entire Edgar Allan Poe show had presented itself to my mind and I was on the phone with this agency pitching the show within the hour.
They were thrilled with the idea and began booking me right away. I put the entire show together in 5 days and the rest is history.
I have since performed Poe over 2,000 times to more than 400 standing ovations. I have recently been honored to perform for Edgar's 210th birthday celebration at The Poe House and Museum in Fordham NY where Poe lived his final years and all because my father tricked me into reading Edgar Allan Poe.
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