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An evening with Poe, courtesy of Joshua Kane

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Joshua Kane enacting Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart.

Joshua Kane may be in an Armani suit, or he may be in an old-fashioned vest and ascot. Anything could happen this Saturday night at the Historic Fifth Street School, but a few things are certain. “An old man will be murdered, eight politicians will be set aflame and there is one creepy black bird,” Kane promises of his dramatic performance of Poe’s Tales of Terror.

“I am a person out of time,” says Joshua in a deep voice over the phone as he settles into a Pasadena hotel room before making the trip to Vegas. “I would be happiest during the golden age of radio.” Indeed, his voice sounds exactly like the stentorian voices I imagine came out of the old-fashioned living-room fixture radios. Kane’s idols are the classic actors Charles Laughton, Vincent Price and Orson Welles.

Joshua is certainly a man out of any sphere I’m acquainted with. He was inadvertently bred for his role as a stage actor by his grandmother, who put him to bed with stories that often turned gruesome, like one of a boy being captured by Indians, tied spread-eagle in the desert, his eyelids cut out so the ants and vultures could eat his eyeballs. Other times he fell asleep to records playing the voices of the above-mentioned classic actors, as they told their dramatic tales of death and vengeance.

As a 5’2” teen, Kane was repeatedly stuffed by the jocks into lockers. No worries: he had a tiny flashlight attached to a keychain and always carried his Edgar Allan Poe tome with him. His other interests included mime, magic, fire-eating, knife-throwing, bullwhips, juggling and the theater.

Today, he has turned his passions into a career. Kane is a master of the spoken word. “Reddish black sticky droplets of blood splattering on a white tile floor” Kane spouts, an image developing with every word. He explains that everyone will imagine something slightly different, but together the audience members will help to create an ephemeral event, a unique experience for everyone to share.

“The spoken word is far more powerful than film,” Kane claims. He obviously love talking (our phone conversation lasted over an hour, complete with a few scary stories told for my enjoyment). “When we go to a movie we are a viewer: we see exactly what the director puts in front of us. But when we go to the theater, we are not viewers; we are the audience. ‘Audience’ comes from the Latin root word ‘audie,’ one who listens and creates events through their listening. The theater is about the power of the word and its ability to resonate in our imaginations. A single word can evoke powerful images and chemistry.”

Close your eyes and be transported to a dark, gothic night: a midnight dreary, while you ponder weak and weary, and suddenly hear a gentle rapping, a tapping at your chamber door. It won’t be hard to do with Kane’s voice wrapped around you, as you sit in the historic Fifth Street School, inhaling the words of Poe on a chill fall night.

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Jennifer Grafiada

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