Your show Ray Bradbury Live (forever) - in a few words, what
is it about?
It's a new solo stage portrayal of the great Ray Bradbury, authorized
by his estate.
The show is in the grand tradition of solo stage pieces like Hal
Holbrook's Mark Twain Tonight (but with dinosaurs and Mars instead of
steamboats and the Mississippi). I'll portray Ray, with rear-screen
projections by Christopher Cooksey with Chris Young and Val Mayerik, and
an original score by composer Brian Lee. We start touring this spring.
Basic question, why Ray Bradbury, what do
you find so fascinating about this writer, and what does he mean to you,
His compassion for humanity, in all our
foolishness, is what draws me. Bradbury's writing has the same spirit I
hear in the music of Mozart, and read in the words of Jesus: a sense that
despite our failings, we can make it, perhaps even beyond the stars. Ray
said “I'm not an optimist; I'm an optimal behaviorist.” That's the Ray
Bradbury I love. My only hope is to share that love onstage.
What were your sources of inspiration when
writing Ray Bradbury Live (forever), and to what extent did
Bradbury's own writings influence the play? And how much research did you
do to get things right?
Garrison Keillor once said of Mark
Twain: “He lived a remarkable life but, in the end, his own writing is
more interesting than his biography.” That's true of Bradbury, too. I
was determined to create a show in which Ray Bradbury's prose is the only
star. It took 3 years and many drafts to get a script I felt
comfortable submitting to his estate.
Ray Bradbury Live (forever)
is fully approved by the Ray Bradbury Estate - so how easy or hard was it
to get that approval?
The show is performed with permission of Ray Bradbury Literary Works
(his estate) and Don Congdon Associates, Inc. (his literary agent) with
family script approval, so the approval process was thorough. Several
people in what I call “Ray World” (of which I'm not a part) were kind
enough to help me navigate the challenge of selecting 90 minutes
of material from an author who wrote 600 short stories and 27 novels:
Los Angeles Bradbury friends John King Tarpinian and David Clow put me in
touch with the family, who approved my initial approach to Ray's literary
agency. Dr. Jonathan Eller, director of the Center For Ray Bradbury
Studies at IUPUI and the author of two Bradbury biographies, was a patient
script advisor and helped me access the Center's archives.
Dr. Eller then vetted the final script, along with Bradbury scholar Dr.
Phil Nichols of the University of Wolverhampton in the UK, before I sent
it to the estate's representatives. On their final approval, licensing was
cleared for the selections from Ray's writings I wanted to include, and a
final performance agreement was issued. It was step-by-step, but as Ray
said “By doing things, things get done.”
Playing the lead in Ray
Bradbury Live (forever) - what do you draw upon to bring him to life,
and how much Bill Oberst jr can we find in your rendition of Ray Bradbury?
Bradbury was so unique a figure that no one can play him. Only Ray could
be Ray. But I can suggest him in appearance and speech, and let his words
do the rest. If I faithfully convey his words, his spirit will be there.
It's a tribute show. I'm just a fan.
future showings of your play, you'll be wearing a full facial mask with
the likeness of Ray Bradbury - so do talk about that mask, its creation
process and its creator Jeff Farley for a bit!
Jeff Farley and one of his Babylon 5
is a Hollywood vet, an Emmy nominee for Babylon 5, and I'm fortunate that
he wanted to help - I don't resemble Ray at all (there are so many actors
better suited to portray him) but I had a heart for doing it, and Jeff
responded to that passion. He first did a full prosthetic makeup as an
older Ray. It worked beautifully, but was a complex makeup to recreate
again and again as I tour, so we've scaled back to portray a younger
Bradbury requiring less coverage: a suggestion rather than a duplication.
Jeff is working on this final makeup right now, and it will debut when the
show has its first full performance in March at South Pasadena Public
Library in South Pasadena, CA.
Bradbury Live (forever) has already hit the stage on a few occasions -
so what can you tell us about the performances so far, and audience and
The Off-Broadway reading was directed by Theatre Row's Michael
Joseph Ormond, whose influence brought Broadway actors Steven Hauck
and Zoe Watkins onboard as narrator and Maggie Bradbury, respectively. It
was a dream and it came off like a dream. Critical reception was strong (I
attribute this to the professionalism of that director and that cast, and
to the words of Ray Bradbury, not to myself). It proved that the material
worked for a New York audience, which was important to know before I
started touring it. Maybe we'll end up back in NYC for a full performance
You are planning to take Ray
Bradbury Live (forever) in 2019 - any details about that you can give
This is a labor of love, so there's not a staff
involved – I'm booking the show myself into venues around the country
and eventually, around the world. Anyone interested can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. It's a very personal project and, at least for
now, I want to keep my hand on where it goes to properly honor Ray's
Any future projects beyond Ray Bradbury Live
(forever) you'd like to share?
Rob Zombie was kind enough to have me on his Three From Hell,
which is due in theaters this year. An artistic and mystical horror film
of which I'm quite proud, Adrian Corona's Dis,
releases this month, and a dream film project, Mark Savage's Circus Of
Dread, set in a dark carnival, is close to production. I have 7 shoots
lined up so far for this year, besides getting the Bradbury show tour up
and running. I like to work.
website, Facebook, whatever else?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
My official site is
https://www.billoberst.com and my social links are all there. My IMDb is
https://www.imdb.com/name/nm2454994. Thanks for asking.
Anything else you're
dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
gosh, no. Actors talk too much as it is, Mike.
for the interview!
Thank YOU and your readers, Mike. I
appreciate all you do for indie projects, and I wish you well in your own
creative endeavors, too!