Manifesto

Mission Statement:

Audio drama is one of the most intimate and expressive dramatic mediums, rivaling theater and film in poetic, visual, and narrative qualities. Many people are unaware of this - a stigma lingers that "radio drama" is a scratchy, cartoonish thing of the past, as if people thought that cinema ended with silent movies, unaware of all the great films made since that time. In reality, audio and radio drama is the great frontier of modern theater - with subtle, intimate performances and powerful, gripping stories.

My aim is to promote a discussion of the art, sociology, theory, and future of this remarkable artistic form. The current state of audio drama is precarious, but through careful consideration of how content is presented, distributed, and interacted with, I believe that the radio and audio drama community can grow and prosper and reach an even wider audience.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Scenes from an Execution


Barker's play is a true classic of modern audio drama, and is essential listening for any student of the medium. Elissa Guralnick, in Sight Unseen, provides a deep analysis of the play, so I won't deconstruct it here. Aside from being well written and well acted, what makes this play so important is its reliance on visual imagery. The execution of the title refers not to capital punishment, but to the execution of a painting.

Set in 16th century Venice, Scenes from an Execution is about a talented female painter named Galactia who is commissioned by the bigwigs of the city to paint a giant painting to commemorate their victory at the battle of Lepanto. But Galactia has a fiery independence, and insists on painting the battle as she sees it – an inhumane tragedy, a collection of violence and disaster. The city leaders, on the other hand, want her to modify her work to satisfy their vision – that of the glory and honor of Venice.

Throughout the play, we glimpse the visual imagery that is so controversial. Barker uses language and description to create in our minds what the painting looks like – in a way that is powerful and visceral, and truer than any literal depiction could be. The subjective, fluid state of our minds manufactures a rich tapestry of striking images.

Aside from the visual aspect of the play, I also admire the thematic tensions of the story – the conflict between art and commerce, the question of how art should reflect a society. Should it show Venice the beauty and honor that Venice wants to see? Or should it hold a mirror close to its blemishes? This theme is later explored in John Arden's The Bagman. With equally powerful results.

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