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One Year after Bradbury's Death, "Fahrenheit 451" Burns Bright in Keene

The Keene Public Library announces a marathon readers' theater production of Ray Bradbury’s 1953 novel, "Fahrenheit 451" performed by the Edge Ensemble Theatre Company beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday May 11, 2013 in Heberton Hall at the Keene Public Library. The Keene Public Library is located at 60 Winter Street.

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. “'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.”

The Edge Ensemble, a resident theater company that’s been in Keene since 1990, decided to combine the idea of a marathon read with a readers' theater, recruiting students from local schools as well as the Edge’s own ensemble performers and other community members as narrators and cast members.

Marathon reads have become popular tools on college campuses to encourage a deep appreciating of reading. They are held annually at UCLA, Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y., and at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. 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 fit, 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.

To promote the "Fahrenheit 451" reading, the Keene Public Library is asking the community to share the one book they would save if the library suddenly caught fire or books were banned by government decree. Book titles will be displayed in the library and on the library's website at

On Wednesday, May 8 at 7:00 p.m., the library will feature the 1966 film based on the book. Julie Christie plays dual roles—one as wife of fireman Oskar Werner and the other as a book-loving schoolteacher.

“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 date of the May 11 event is just short of the one-year anniversary of Bradbury’s death. He died on June 5, 2012.

The reading is sponsored by the Friends of the Keene Public Library. Permission for this reading of "Fahrenheit 451" was granted by Don Congdon Associates, Inc. Copyright 1953, renewed 1981 by Ray Bradbury.  The Toadstool Bookshop of Keene donated copies of "Fahrenheit 451" to The Edge Ensemble for its cast of readers.

The Keene Public Library offers a full calendar of more free public events throughout the year for people of all ages. For more information about these programs, please contact Gail Zachariah at the library at 603-352-0157.