Virtual terrors of Edgar Allen Poe


Joshua Kane recites Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado to an excited virtual audience. Applause reactions replaced the noise, as the audience was to stay muted.

Samantha Butzen, Journalist

 The cold and rainy night of Oct. 21 set the perfect ambiance for the thrilling night of Tales of Terror by Edgar Allen Poe. Solo Performer Joshua Kane joined a live stream at 7 p.m. provided by the Young Auditorium. From his apartment in New York City, he read some of his favorite pieces written by Poe, whose works are known for being dark and tragic.

Kane used different eerie voices to keep the characters clear in the one man show, and it added a spooky tone to the text. Engagement from the audience was encouraged and welcoming. He did a few requested impersonations of famous characters to get the audience going. It was a fun event for the whole online community.  

The pandemic brought unique opportunities to Kane, such as this remote performance. He called attention to some positives and negatives of the remote event. Kane recognized the zoom room as an opportunity to be more personal, and  let the audience have input on Poe’s pieces that were performed rather than having a set list like on stage. It also brought challenges such as finding ways to interact with the audience the way he did in the theater.

Kane recalled his love for Poe before he started. His work tends to be better understood with age. Kane also recalled his love for the Young Auditorium in his past visits, always ending the night with a bite from Wisconsin’s classic, Culvers – though this time he came through the screen from a sound booth in his apartment’s spare room.

The tales proceeded in the order of The Cask of Amontillado, The Love Poem to Annabel Lee, The Raven and The Tell-Tale Heart. Kane joked that he refused to perform The Masque of the Red Death due to the similarities of the current COVID-19 situation. Nonetheless, his chosen works were a perfect fit with Halloween fast approaching. From the murder mystery of The Cask of Amontillado to the vulture eye of the Tell-Tale Heart, the audience hung on every word.

Shouting ‘Nevermore’ along with the narrator during The Raven was fun in such a vivid and descriptive piece, it made you feel as if you were looking straight at the evil black bird. The way Kane read The Love Poem to Annabel Lee truly helped the audience feel the loss and sadness behind the words. It was an event that brought Poe to life in a way that was easy to understand for attendees of all ages.

The triumph over technical difficulties ended in a personal question and answer session with Joshua Kane about both the show and his experience in the acting field. It was nice to see questions from children from in area Whitewater schools who were utilizing the virtual event as well. It was a night worth tuning in to.

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