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Ear-Opening Experience

February 22, 2012

As I mentioned in a previous blog, one of my goals in 2012 is to write and perform in a radio drama.  To that end, I’m taking a great radio drama writing course (online, through New Writing South, in the UK.)  Along with getting some top-notch writing advice, and being forced, through class deadlines, to actually start to write my first radio play, I’m also getting immersed in different styles of radio drama as we are required to listen to several each week.

Can you tell I love the course?

I wanted to share it with the blog, because I think that listening to even a bit of radio drama can be an eye-opening (or should I say “ear-opening”) experience for the American actor or theatre pro, as our familiarity with the genre is so limited.

There are so many wonderful things about radio drama, but one that has really stood out for me is that the settings are limitless. You can take the story from a small thatched cottage to a spaceship to the middle of the Amazon, all in a matter of minutes, with no expensive costumes, props or set changes!   And the coolest part about your limitless settings…they all look great to the audience. That’s because the listener creates their own perfect image of the set in their own imagination.

So anyway…….I know there are already a million and one things to do for research in your acting career, but I’m making a pitch for occasionally listening to radio drama (though I think you’ll find it can be addictive.) The best place to start is, the BBC (natch), at this link, where you can listen to previously broadcast dramas for up to 7 days.  And if you are so inclined, have a look at some produced radio drama scripts here, at the BBC Writers Room.  Try reading some out loud to get a feel for radio drama.

I’m still in the midst of a steep learning curve in this course and would love to read your thoughts on radio drama, especially as American actors and theatre professionals.  Do you think radio drama still has a place in the American entertainment landscape? Why or why not?   My ears are open…

7 Comments leave one →
  1. The Reflective Artist permalink
    February 22, 2012 10:16 am

    I LOVELOVELOVE that you are taking this course, and am so excited to see what your final product is. I think it’s only made better by the fact that you are so passionate about this style of entertainment.

    There are a surprising number of radio plays and broadcasts from America that are available for purchase via Amazon, which was how I actually started listening to the Lux Radio Theater broadcasts, which are great for so many reasons I won’t get into here. And of course iTunes has a number of BBC Radio Dramas for purchase–that’s how I found the Mighty Boosh and Mitchell and Webb.

    With the growing popularity of podcast interviews and dialogues (and that ever wonderful niche of NPR listeners out there), how can radio drama *not* have a place in American culture? I think, however, there’s a lot of work to be done to make this form **more visible in performance entertainment culture right now.** But with the currently HIGH marketability on nostalgia, perhaps this country is ready for a Radio Drama Revolution. 🙂

  2. February 24, 2012 11:47 pm

    Thank you both for the support and for the ideas on how to get more radio drama into our lives ! Lux Radio Theater is cool for sure.

    I agree that there has to still be an audience for the genre in America, as you say, with NPR and podcasts. I am also wondering about satellite radio and how that could be a potentially great outlet for radio dramas… Stay tuned!

  3. February 25, 2012 3:52 pm

    Hey, Granted Actor, it’s Mark from the course! Just had to reach across the Atlantic and give you a writer-to-writer shake by the hand!

    • March 5, 2012 11:34 am

      Hey Mark! Thanks for signing up for the blog. I can’t wait to read more of your intriguing play!

  4. Patricia Flannagan permalink
    March 2, 2012 9:21 am

    Hello, Granted. Glad to hear you’re learning to write for radio and more importantly learning to listen to it. I advise you to get your head out of the BBC for awhile and listen to The Byron Chronicles at site. The Pale Man of Portland has some wild adventures that will stretch out your imagination and also let you know the Beeb (love them as I do) is not always the cutting edge. Listen to the ” intro ” first, a little masterpiece in itself.Then I recommend you start with Episode 2 if you must listen to only one.
    I tweet the radio dramas I listen to at Patfln2006.
    Best of luck to you.


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