Plays for Audio

Plays for Audio

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I’ve long been enamored of the programming on BBC Radio 4: 15 Minute Drama, Afternoon Drama, Book at Bedtime, Classic Serial, comedy serials of all kinds… And with my BBC Radio app all of this is as close as a push of the button on my iPhone (though as I write this on a Saturday morning I’m listening to the “football” on Talk Sport).

On U.S. radio I’m not sure where you can find any fiction. There’s all kinds of non-fiction storytelling on the radio, and on iTunes there are scads of comedy podcasts, but the rich radio tradition of fictional storytelling of the 1930s, 40s, and 50s is long gone.

The audio podcast, however, makes possible a revival of audio storytelling. Some basic recording and editing equipment, a quick gargle and fluttering of the tonsils, and you’re in business. I’m currently at work on a short play for audio that I’m aiming to introduce here on the site later in March. I plan to continue with more plays for audio as the year goes along. The audio play I’m working on, a cheery comedy I’m calling The Death Symposium, is a stand-alone work, but we all love serials, and I want to follow-up this first effort with an audio serial of some kind.

My influences? Tom Stoppard’s radio plays top the list. I have his Plays for Radio 1964-1983, but I just came upon this collection of actual performances of his radio plays from 1967-1991. Stoppard still works now and again in this genre, his most recent effort being 2013’s “Darkside,” a philosophical comedy celebrating the 40th anniversary of Pink Floyd’s album, The Dark Side of the Moon.

My favorites of Stoppard’s radio plays? “Where Are They Now?,” “Albert’s Bridge,” “Artist Descending a Staircase,” “The Dog It Was That Died.”

Stoppardplays

Who will perform my plays? Last fall I played the title role in the Castaways Repertory Theater’s production of Macbeth, and I also recorded the unabridged version of the first book in my Kingdom of Patria series, Stout Hearts & Whizzing Biscuits, a “full-cast solo recording,” and so with this experience in my pocket I plan on performing “The Death Symposium” myself.

Anyone else enjoy plays for radio/audio?

The featured image is reproduced courtesy of James Cridland at Flickr Creative Commons under the following license.

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Comments

  1. Love ‘em–Especially Shakespeare on CD, there’s a series of all of Shakespeare’s plays done for audio and released on CD. Good stuff!

    • Daniel McInerny says:

      Totally agreed, Jake. And one I own that I love is a full-length audio version of Hamlet featuring a young Kenneth Branagh with the Renaissance Theatre Company. But your comment also reminded me how much much I love the full-cast audio recordings of some J.R.R. Tolkien’s works like “Farmer Giles of Ham” and “Leaf by Niggle” that can be found on the CD collection, “Tales from the Perilous Realm.” My kids also used to enjoy that full-cast recordings that the late Brain Jacques used to do with his family of the “Redwall” children’s books. So much good stuff out there.

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