Torrance Performing Arts Consortium (TPAC)


My Sweet Prince on One of the Best Days of His Life 

October, 2010

    The day had finally arrived. The proclamation, the sterling medallion on red silk ribbons and the cash prize were ready. Excitement filled the air as we journeyed from the Kingdom of the South Bay to The City Of Angels.

      Peggy, President of TPAC, Cinthia, sculptor of the Shakespeare Medallion, and I, the Award Artistic Director, were to meet with the fabled poet and playwright! As we waited in the foyer, we marveled at the beautiful works of art and life size toy animals. I spied a miniature mechanical toy: the flying chairs of a carnival ride. This was indeed an enchanted castle! His attendant came and announced, “He is ready for you!”

     At last he led the way to our beloved. Wearing a royal blue shirt and a stunning eight pointed, green enamel and gilded medallion, Ray Bradbury, Poet and Playwright Extraordinaire, waited as we ushered into his private office.

    Peggy Dowell and Cinthia Joyce draped Ray Bradbury with the Shakespeare Awards medallion. He raised his eyebrows and gasped at the beauty of our TPAC-SBC Shakespeare. His hands clasped around the round medal and lifted it to his lips. Then, he kissed Shakespeare! We were ecstatic!

     “What a day this has been! One of the best days of my life! Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Ray Bradbury exclaimed. “This is such an honor to recognized with Shakespeare. What an honor it is. Thank you, Thank you! God Bless you!” Ray said. “Thank you! we chorused back. We were very touched by his sincere words and gestures.

     Mr. Bradbury bestowed a poem in honor of the receiving the Shakespeare Award. “I would like this poem to be read at the Shakespeare Awards.” The poem, on Shakespeare and Cervantes, will be read at the Shakespeare Awards Ceremony in 2011.

    Next, Ray Bradbury agreed to answer some questions about his writing and plays.

Q: What was the first writing you did, and when did you know you wanted to be a writer?

A: “I remember being born. So every moment of my life was transcendent, and I was in love with life. I began to write sequels to books. Edgar Allen Poe influenced me, and I wrote sequels to stories by Edgar Allen Poe. Edgar Rice Burroughs influenced me with his books about Mars. I began to write books about Mars when I was twelve years old. I wrote a book, The Martian Chronicles, when I was twenty-nine years old.”

Q: What was the first play you wrote?

A: “The first play I wrote was Dandelion Wine. I wrote that when I was thirty years old. I wrote five plays that are two act plays, and I wrote forty plays that are one act plays.”

Q: Which is your favorite play of your plays?

A: “One of my favorite plays is Fahrenheit 451. I wrote that as a novel, first. Then I wrote it as a play.”

Q: What is your favorite play of other playwrights?

A: “Hamlet is my favorite play. I love Hamlet. I feel it is Shakespeare's best writing.”

At this point, I pointed to the back side of the medallion, inscribed with the famous line from Shakespeare's Hamlet: “To Thine Own Self Be True.” Bradbury saw the line which perfectly describes him. Throughout his career, he has steadfastly refused to write anything he does not love or want to write.

Q: What inspired you to write and adapt The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit?

A: “I grew up in a tenement downtown Los Angeles, and the tenement was filled with wonderful people. They inspired me to write the short story, and then the play. I was twenty five years old."

Q: What advice do you have for someone who wants to write plays and be a playwright?

A: “Do what you love, and love what you do. That's the way to write a play. Write a play that you love, and make sure that you are in love with that play. You will write a great play as a result.”

Q: Would you please tell us about the French Medal?”

A: Ray holds up the eight pointed medallion in his left hand. “The French Ambassador to America came to Los Angeles three years ago to give me this medal. I am now a Commandeur in the Affairs of Arts and Literature in all of France, and I...” Ray Bradbury, holding the medal, boldly demands, “...I command you to love me!”

    We full-heartedly laughed because, as you know, we already loved him!

“Vive La France!” and “Vive Commandeur Bradbury!” we joyfully exclaimed.

    Bon Commandeur Bradbury's eyes gleamed humor as he looked at me. Two medallions, one silver on red and scarlet silk ribbon, the other gold with emerald on a green and gold ribbon glistened on his chest. He spoke.

     “When I die, I want you to say to me, 'Goodnight, Sweet Prince!'”

      “Oh, My!” I thought. “Oh, Why wait?” I said. I kissed him on his crown, and stated, “Goodnight, Sweet Prince!” I giggled. “This is so fun! I will do this again!” I commented, and began to laugh. I continued with “Goodnight, Sweet Prince,” comments and kisses. More gaiety ensued. Commandeur Bradbury's mirth was a big wave that shook his entire frame, and spread through the room. Everyone merrily pealed! After several more kisses and laughter, I stopped. We stood and gave rousing applause, cheering "Congratulations! Thank you!”

        “I give you all my love!” Ray said. Cinthia answered, “We give you our love, too!” Bradbury said to me, “Good Night, Sweet Princess!” “Why do I have to leave?” I sighed.

   As sculptor Cinthia Joyce left the chamber, she stopped and kissed Commandeur Bradbury on his crown, too. TPAC President Peggy Dowell stopped and did the same. How could we not?

     Thus, we parted from the good Commandeur, Playwright Ray Bradbury, a friend of the world. In fact, he is a friend of the universe. Draped with multiple kisses and Shakespeare medallion, for the joy and glee of everyone, especially Shakespeare and me! Commandeur Bradbury, you are a beautiful work of art! Congratulations and Cheers to Commandeur Bradbury, Sweet Prince to us all!

Mary Anne Golden, TPAC Public Relations and Artistic Director