21st Century Orson Welles (1985-2013), by Joel Straley

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On the timeline of an alternate Universe much like our own, Orson Welles did not die on October 10, 1985, but was in fact born for the first time. After a suburban childhood, Welles left to travel Europe. His father’s death left him an inheritance that allowed him to become another trust fund millennial taking up all the good spots in the hostels.

Once returning to the United States, he made a home in a five-bedroom loft in New York City, technically Bushwick. Europe had given him a love a theatre, so as soon as he could he joined a short-form improv group. They specialized in performing Shakespeare but with celebrity suggestions taken from the audience such as Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan. Their performances garnered some attention with one night’s version of Macbeth being declared “racist” by several blogs.

Looking to expand his skill-set, Welles recorded an episode for the theatre’s podcast. Welles read an adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. The podcast amounted to little more than a few concerned eyebrow-raises among subway riders who downloaded it simply because it was free. However some press was received as iTunes reviews poured in stating, “I thought this was real,” “This should have had a warning,” and “meh.”

Welles decided to use the notoriety to again expand his career. His eyes were now set on the wonders of moving images. He soon released his first Vine, an old man whispering his dying words: “Rosebud.” After receiving three re-Vines Welles, felt this was encouragement to expand the idea to a full-length feature.

Welles gained nearly 75% of his Kickstarter goal, mostly thanks to his mother and the rest of his inheritance. With this he was able to create what would become his magnum opus, Occupy Kane, the story of power and wealth told in a webseries of 47 parts. By the release of part 22, the YouTube views were already teetering around the 10s.

Much to Welles surprise, he had been nominated for an award in the category of Biggest Fail at that years Webbys. The webseries was panned by Splitsider, who claimed it to be “hard to follow” with “poor lighting” and “long takes that test the viewer’s patience.”

Around this time, Welles prolific nature was stifled. He had finished his fifth internship at his improv theatre and was still working full time as an administrative assistant at a start-up that focused on making ordering lunch with a smartphone even easier.

Welles spent his final days drunk and eating frozen peas. In fact, someone really should have been there to film him. It was quite funny and probably would have been the type of thing to really go viral on a site like Reddit.

Welles took his own life on May 6, 2013. His suicide note was a GIF of some old actress shrugging. It might have been Rita Hayworth. I don’t know. I don’t really watch old movies. They’re pretty boring.

Joel Straley is a writer and improviser in New York who also makes music and videos, oh, and he has a podcast. He is a liberal, straight, white male in his 20s. Still doesn’t ring a bell? He used to have long hair.

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