An epic theatrical production! Includes an amazing pocket watch routine that can be used in many other performances! “When the work was discovered at the bottom of Poe’s writing desk, it was in a previously unknown secret compartment. Thrilling, is it not? Baltimore Poe scholars were certainly thrilled, and a special edition collection would herald the announcement! Alas, this would not come to pass. According to friends of mine in the Poe Historical Society, strange things began to happen to those preparing the edition for publication. An editor died of TB! The first case in Baltimore for many years. Perhaps a coincidence though? Then, the project lead committed suicide by throwing himself from a balcony in the historic Central Library in downtown Baltimore, crushing his skull on the marble inlaid floor. He was there doing research at the Edgar Allan Poe Room.
“Other things, more mysterious things, happened to members of the team who were assembling the collection. Illness and melancholy seemed to prevail over the scholars. When the book’s proof was printed that is where the tale ends. Like the Tell-tale Heart, the book seemed to mock the team by its very existence. A team member, who I will call Ellen, ripped it to pieces before it could be sent for final approval and the project was canceled. “I have here, the only remaining page from that forsaken tome. A single page from the Masque of the Red Death. A page with but a single diversion from the text you may very well be familiar with. Although it has evidently lost much pf its previous malevolence, there may be some power left within. After hearing this tale, do you still care to conduct an experiment?”
The performer brings out an unassuming box. From within he places on a table a black pouch, a pocket watch, a coin and single page torn from a book. He holds up the page for all to see:
“This is the page I spoke of. The last remnant from the now defunct project.”
The performer places the page back down and picks up the watch. Poe’s wife Virginia died on January 30, 1847 at 9:30 that morning. The performer then lifts the watch and turns the knob on the top.
“There as you see, I have set the time to 9:30!”
The performer then, with the watch open and the face forward, walks around the guests showing it to the audience. With everyone looking, the performer closes the lid and sets it aside in view of all. The performer then lifts the coin from the table and presents it to the audience.
“Look! 9:30 o’clock. 9:30 o’clock.
“No one, no matter their lot in life, the wealthiest and the poorest can escape the ultimate fate – our mortality. This coin represents the meaningless of wealth.”
The performer then picks up the bird’s skull.
“The pendant of a raven! Need I explain? It represents Poe, the writer.
“I also have a mask. The Mask of the Red Death.”
The performer takes out the mask and shows it off.
“Ladies and gentlefolk, I need just three volunteers.”
The objects are laid out on a table in a neat row.
“We are going to do some role playing my dear friends.”
The performer now singles-out a volunteer. Let us say, the first one.
“Would you like to be the Red Death, Prospero or Poe?”
In this case they chose The Red Death.
“Very well. Then you must wear this mask!”
The mask is placed on the first volunteer’s face. They are now the Red Death.
“Now you,” as the performer turns to the second volunteer, “who shall you be? Prospero? Very good!”
That person is now Prospero. The performer turns to the third volunteer.
“That makes our last volunteer Poe!
“I have here the items: The RAVEN, an Omen of Death or Harbinger of Doom! A COIN, a representation of greed and life’s futility and finally a WATCH which symbolizes mortality.
“Red Death, which item would you, oh master of death chose?”
“The skull? Yes. Hold onto that.”
The performer turns now Prospero.
“Prince Prospero, which would you have? The COIN or WATCH? The COIN? Very well.”
“That leaves Poe with the WATCH, which is good since we are out of time.
“Time now to read from the page. It reads just like the original’s last few paragraphs except for these words:
“The apparition stood before the prince. In his dank and dripping hand was a raven’s skull, the omen of death, in Prospero’s quivering hand was a coin and in a pouch was a watch, set for
“Please Mr. Poe, open the pouch and tell us the time…”
“It is Midnight”, says Poe.