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Speaking of Stories to Present ‘Stories From The Twilight Zone’ March 13-14

Henry Brown performs at a previous Speaking of Stories event. His next appearance will be March 13, reading “What You Need” by Lewis Padgett. Click to view larger
Henry Brown performs at a previous Speaking of Stories event. His next appearance will be March 13, reading “What You Need” by Lewis Padgett. (Speaking of Stories photo)

“You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead — your next stop, the Twilight Zone!”  That’s how Rod Serling, introduced the first season of the iconic television show The Twilight Zone

Speaking of Stories will embark on that same journey with two performances of stories that inspired Twilight Zone episodes March 13-14, 2016. Be ready for some fun twists, turns and surprises. You never quite know where a Twilight Zone adventure might take you. 

Artistic Director Maggie Mixsell has compiled a great collection of stories and performers to guide you through this journey: Henry Brown reading “What You Need” by Lewis Padgett, Anne Guynn reading “The Beautiful People” by Charles Beaumont, Robert Lessor reading “The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross” by Henry Slesar and Rudolph Willrich reading “To Serve Man” by Damon Knight.

Rod Serling wrote the teleplay for “What You Need,” based on a story by Lewis Padgett, which is actually the joint pseudonym of the science fiction authors and spouses Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore, taken from their mothers’ maiden names. 

The episode aired Dec. 25, 1959, starring Steve Cochran. When Tim Carmichael saw a sign in an unassuming shop window reading “deeN uoY tahW evaH eW,” he had no idea his life was about the change forever. 

Long-time Santa Barbara resident and frequent Speaking of Stories performer Henry Brown will bring this tale to life. 

Brown works in television, film and theater and has been featured in such television series as M.A.S.H., Bay Watch, Picket Fences, Chicago Hope, Saved By the Bell and Star Trek: Voyager

His TV Movies include, Friendly Fire and Oprah Winfrey’s production of Their Eyes Were Watching God. Most recently he starred as the title character in the award winning indie feature Everyday Black Man.

In addition to co-starring in the Perry Lang-helmed web series Blue Belle, Henry recently made his directorial debut with the music video “Nothing Sacred” by Mr. Way.

Locally, in addition to having a substantial history with Speaking of Stories, Brown has performed in A Lesson of Aloes at Ensemble Theatre, The Peabody Duck at UC Santa Barbara and Bug at Center Stage Theatre. In Los Angeles, he was Kofi Anan in the Mark Taper forum production of David Hare’s Stuff Happens.

Based on “The Beautiful People” by Charles Beaumont, John Tomerlin wrote the teleplay for the episode “Number Twelve Looks Just Like You,” which aired Jan. 24, 1964, starring Collin Wilcox, Suzy Parker and Pam Austin. 

Anne Guynn returns to Speaking of Stories to take you on this journey, which imagines a future we have not yet reached but examines the all too familiar themes of what beauty really is, in importance of intelligence and the power and challenge of youth questioning the status quo. 

Guynn is a graduate of the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts. Locally, she has worked with Theatre Group at Santa Barbara City College, Circle Bar B, Elements Theatre Collective and Out of the Box as well as Ensemble and Rubicon Theatres. 

“The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross” by Henry Slesar was the inspiration of an episode written by Jerry McNeely that aired Jan. 17, 1964, starring Don Gordon and Gail Kobe.

Salvadore Ross has discovered a unique and powerful approach to self-improvement that has both wonderful and terrible consequences. Speaking of Stories veteran Robert Lesser will share Salvadore’s tale. 

Lesser is a New Yorker now living in Santa Barbara who was most recently seen in Los Angeles in Awake and Sing at The Odyessy Theatre (SAGE award Outstanding Ensemble 2015). 

His theater credits include A View From the Bridge at Pacific Resident Theatre, Richard the Third at the New York Shakespeare Festival, The Soft Touch directed by Alan Arkin and Rubbers and Yanks 3 Detroit 0 Top of the Seventh at the American Place Theatre, also directed by Alan Arkin.

He has performed at the Yale Repertory’s Winterfest and appeared in Sam Shepard’s Geography of a Horse Dreamer at The Manhattan Theatre Club.

Speaking of Stories veteran Robert Lesser reads a short story in a previous performance. Click to view larger
Speaking of Stories veteran Robert Lesser reads a short story in a previous performance. (Speaking of Stories photo)

In Los Angeles, he appeared at the Odyssey Theatre in Steven Berkoff’s Kvetch, and God’s Country. He was in the West Coast premiere of To Gillian on her 37th Birthday directed by Michael Pressman.

Lesser’s busy theater life in Santa Barbara includes Food Confessions, In All Honesty and My Antonia at the Rubicon Theatre; The Goat or Who is Sylvia by Edward Albee and Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape (Indy Award) at the Center Stage Theatre; Amadeus, The Fourth Wall, Proof (Indy Award), Communicating Doors (Indy Award), The Last Night of Ballyhoo (Indy Award), The Weir, Art (Indy Award and Garland Honorable Mention), An Inspector Calls, Indiscretions and The Cripple of Inishmaan at the Ensemble Theatre Company of Santa Barbara.

Some of his films include Hester StreetThe Big Easy, 2010, Ernest Saves Christmas, The Last Innocent Man, Shoot to Kill, Die Hard, Oscar, The Relic, Godzilla, End of Days and the Takashi Koizumi war epic, Best Wishes for Tomorrow.

Lesser is a member of Ensemble Studio Theatre, Pacific Resident Theatre and Good Company.

“To Serve Man” by Damon Knight gave life to a teleplay by Rod Sterling that aired March 2, 1962, starring Lloyd Bochner, Richard Kiel and Susan Cummings. 

Once again the timelessness of storytelling reminds us how little our world has changed in the over 50 years since the story was written and that it is really important to remember that words like “serving” can have more than one meaning. This story will be portrayed by the always wonderful Rudolph Willrich

Willrich is a seasoned stage actor on and off Broadway and in regional theater who most recently charmed Rubicon Theater audiences with his portrayal of Col. Pickering in My Fair Lady

He has appeared in a number of productions at The Ensemble Theater Company here in Santa Barbara, most recently in The Ride Down Mount Morgan and Moon Over Buffalo plus Communicating Doors, The Countess, A Doll’s House, Art, Picasso at the Lapin AgileThe Cripple of Inishmaan, The End of the Day, The Game of Love and Chance, A Life in the Theatre, Sylvia, Sight Unseen and The Weir, a performance which was recognized by Backstage West.

Willrich was also seen in Lee Blessing’s Thief River at the Contemporary American Theatre Festival in Shepherdston, W.V. Other regional appearances include The Boys Next Door and Murder in the First at the Rubicon Theatre in Ventura.

On Broadway, he appeared in Emperor Henry IV by L. Pirandello, Dirty Linen and Newfoundland by Tom Stoppard and the original Noises Off by Michael Frayn.

In Los Angeles he appeared in Benji Anderson’s The Possum PlayAs You Like It at the LA Shakespeare Festival and Rumors by Neil Simon.

His film and television credits include The Number 23The Practice, What’s Love Got To Do With ItSteal Big Steal LittleAll My ChildrenHome ImprovementCritical ConditionRescue 77Family Law and the Star Treks: Next GenerationDeep Space Nine and Enterprise.

Willrich is a resident of Santa Barbara and has received several Independent Theatre Awards. He appears regularly with Speaking of Stories.

In the Santa Barbara Magazine Best Of 2012 edition, T.C. Boyle shared his affection for Speaking of Stories performances.

“My favorite literary event in town, hands down, is Speaking of Stories. There is a real thrill in sitting in a darkened theater and hearing inspired actors perform short stories. What does it make me think of? My mother. My mother reading aloud to me and doing all the voices. This is one of our great local institutions.” 

Stories from The Twilight Zone performances will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 13, and 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 14, at Center Stage Theater.

Relive the childhood magic of having a story read to you — and top it all off with cookies and milk (or maybe a glass of wine)!

Center Stage Theater is located at 751 Paseo Nuevo, in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara. Box Office hours are Wednesday through Friday from 12-5 p.m. and one hour before all shows. It is equipped with the Loop Assistive Listening System and wheelchair accessible.

Tickets are $18 for students and military and $28 for general admission. There is an $18 Early Bird Special for the Sunday matinee only, which must be purchased by Friday, March 11. 

Call the box office at 805.963.0408 or visit to purchase tickets. 

For additional information, visit

Teri Ball is the executive director of Speaking of Stories.

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