As a precursor to the upcoming Halloween holiday, Darrin Crow treated community members to a performance as Gothic poet Edgar Allan Poe.
The performance bounced between first-person recounting of Poe’s personal life and dramatic performances of some of his most well-known works, like “Masque of the Red Death,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and “The Raven.”
Crow’s character work started when he became involved with In Living History. It is one of two first-person storytelling performances Crow does, the other being the Great Depression in Iowa told through the perspective of a hobo, though the characters he inhabits are numerous.
He’s been performing Poe for 20 years now and it started when he was looking for a seasonal character to perform as. While he does run the character out a little bit during the winter months, the month of October is when the poet keeps him the busiest.
Having “always liked Poe” gave him a base to start with and begin developing the character.
“Most of the summer of 1999 was spent reading, and writing and memorizing,” he said.
While Poe’s works themselves haven’t changed in a century and a half, Crow does tweak the storytelling aspects of his performance from time to time and based on the type of audience he will be performing for.
New information, like the fact that his nurse used to give him laudanum and gin-soaked bread, can also give the performer an opportunity to change things up. His newest fact hasn’t quite been worked into the performance yet.
When it comes to the current rendition, Crow said he does have his favorite parts.
“I’m awful fond of ‘The Raven.’ It’s just a cool poem,” Crow said, who also enjoys the introductory part of Poe’s personal story. “People just don’t know about Poe’s background. And, so, I really like telling that part of the story because it gives people a foundation for what the heck is happening and why he turns out the way he does.”
The program was sponsored by the Friends of the Anamosa Library, and historical actors are not a new event for the library, like the opportunity to spend an afternoon with Mary Todd Lincoln earlier this year.