On Oct. 28 audience members were regaled with tales of the macabre written by Edgar Allen Poe. The short stories and poems were brilliantly interpreted by Paul Benedict during ‘Fright Night’, hosted by the Virgin Valley Artists Association.
Benedict is an avid reader of classic American literature and has entertained audiences in a number of different venues; he’s no novice when it comes to bringing drama to the proverbial stage. This was Benedict’s fourth appearance at the gallery as part of the Mesquite Read’s Program. Benedict has also appeared in several productions with the Virgin Valley Theatre Group as well as delivering numerous speeches for the Veterans and Exchange Club programs.
Benedict told the Mesquite Local News, “It isn’t easy to read well aloud. It’s so much easier to deliver dialogue that I have written myself because I can choose the words and phrasing to fit myself. To capture the flavor, the melody, and emotion of someone else’s words requires almost intimate knowledge of the material and hour upon hour of practice.”
Benedict says he reads his material over and over until he has that intimate knowledge. Benedict said that while rehearsing for ‘Fright Night’ he was struck by a revelation; he began to not only see the words, he began to feel the words. He heard the madness and terror that Poe’s words suggested. He couldn’t recall how many times he read through each of Poe’s works, both silently and aloud, but he hoped it was enough that he would be able to translate the material so the audience would also feel the words.
It was very apparent that Benedict was successful in presenting the stories so the audience felt the words when, during ‘Black Cat’ several of the audience members let out an audible gasp as they jumped in their seats. During the reading of ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ Jack Ward commented, “That’s one guy you definitely don’t want to go have a drink with!” It wasn’t really clear if he was talking about the character Montresor or Benedict.
The Mesquite Fine Arts Gallery is located at 15 West Mesquite Blvd, Mesquite, Nevada. You may contact the gallery at 702-346-1338 for more information on the Mesquite Reads and other programs sponsored by the Virgin Valley Artists Association.