by Lorie Lewis Ham
This month the Fresno County Libraries are going to have something special for the Halloween season-a one man Edgar Allan Poe show, The Shadow of the Raven. The man presenting the show, Duffy Hudson, has been doing a one man Edgar Allan Poe show for 15 years! Duffy was born and raised in Ohio, lived in New York City for many years, and then landed in Los Angeles where he currently resides. He has been acting since he was eight, and acting professionally since he was 17. Duffy has had quite the varied career performing on and off Broadway, in films, TV commercials, and theatre all over the county.
We took some time to chat with Duffy about his acting, and especially about The Shadow of the Raven.
KRL: How did you come up with the idea of doing impressionist shows?
Duffy: I am often asked how I came to do a one-man show on the life and works of Edgar Allan Poe. Well I’m 9 years old and my father comes into my room reading The Raven. I’m immediately taken by the language and though I have no idea what this bird is doing in the guy’s bedroom I am nonetheless captivated. When this impromptu performance had concluded, my father informed me that we were going to learn this poem and perform it together for the family on Halloween.
Now you have to understand that my father was also an actor and this was no casual performance, so the idea of performing this for the family was very exciting. I began to read and memorize The Raven. And while immersing myself in this poem, I read The Tell-tale Heart, The Black Cat and The Cask of Amontillado (I assure you my fellow third graders did not share my enthusiasm for Edgar Allan Poe.) I had committed to memory nearly a third of the poem when I realized that my father wasn’t studying the poem and this had been a rouse to get me to read Poe. Well it worked and Edgar Allan Poe was now firmly anchored in my psyche and like a haunting would be with me all my life.
Fast forward several years and I am now a professional actor. I received a form letter from a booking agency specializing in one person shows that they could book in schools and libraries. Of course, I didn’t have such a show so I threw the letter in the trash. Here is where Fate intervened and the letter landed face up and open on the top of the trash can and every time I walked through the kitchen, I glanced down a read more of the letter. They were looking for historical characters, shows no longer than an hour. They said that there were hundreds of local venues looking for such performances and listed a ball park fee they were willing to pay for each performance.
Well I’m an actor and actors are always looking for a job so the wheels started turning and by the third pass through the kitchen the entire Edgar Allan Poe show had presented itself to my mind and I was on the phone with this agency pitching the show within the hour. They were thrilled with the idea and began booking me right away. I put the entire show together in 5 days and the rest is history. I have since performed Poe over 1000 times to more than 300 standing ovations. I have recently been honored with the title Voice of Poe for the Poe House and Museum in Fordham NY. When you take the tour of Poe’s home you will hear my voice performing his work and all because my father tricked me into reading Edgar Allan Poe. (You can learn about Duffy’s other one man show characters on his website).
KRL: Which one of your characters is the hardest one for you to do?
Duffy: They are all hard. Poe is the most physically and emotionally tiring.
KRL: Where do you perform?
Duffy: I perform all over the country, in Libraries, Museums, Universities, Country Clubs, and Theatres.
KRL: Where else have you acted (TV, movies, theatre)?
Duffy: I have performed in many films including Tattered Angel with Lynda Carter and over 50 Television commercials.
KRL: I know you do several different characters, but right now for the Halloween season, I’d like to focus on Edgar Allan Poe. Please share with us what you do in your Poe show?
Duffy: Edgar Allan Poe comes out and shares the high points of his life. He also performs The Tell Tale Heart, Annabel Lee, and The Raven.
KRL: How long is it?
Duffy: The show is 45 minutes long with a Q and A to follow.
KRL: What’s the hardest thing about portraying Poe?
Duffy: The deep emotion.
KRL: What has been the most fun?
Duffy: Playing George Burns is the most fun. But regarding Poe the most fun part is doing The Tell Tale Heart because it is simply off the charts character wise.
KRL: Are you performing anywhere else this October?
Duffy: I will be performing all over the country this October, CA, FL, TX, NV.
KRL: Anything else you would like to share?
Duffy: I was recently voted “Best One Man Show in Los Angeles” By the LA Daily News.
You can learn more about Duffy and his one man shows on his website: www.duffyhudson.com.
They will be four performances of The Shadow of the Raven at several Fresno County Libraries:
Performance dates & locations;
October 21 at 6:30 p.m. at the Reedley Library, 1027 E. Street
October 22 at 6:30 p.m. at the Gillis Library in Fresno, 629 West Dakota Ave.
October 23 at Clovis Centennial Plaza at Bullard and Pollasky in Fresno at 6:30 p.m. This is an outdoor event, please bring a lawn chair.
October 24 at 11 a.m. at the Sanger Library, 1812 Seventh St. and at 3 p.m. at the Sunnyside Library in Fresno at 5566 E. Kings Canyon Rd.
You can learn more about these free fun Halloween events on the library website: bit.ly/1Lkn2sE.
Check out even more Halloween fun in KRL’s Halloween Fun in the Valley article!