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.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wings by Arthur Kopit

This isn't my favorite play by any means, although it is well-written and innovative. I'm including it here because it is particularly useful in understanding audio drama's unique properties.

Broadcast in 1978 as a commission for NPR's long-defunct "Earplay" series, this Arthur Kopit play tells the story of Emily Stilson, an elderly woman who was once a wing-walker. She suffers a debilitating stroke, and the play dramatizes her subjective viewpoint in a collage of words and sounds. As an expression of her internal state, ''Wings'' is a particularly effective piece of drama. It is a fundamentally psychological play that cannot be accurately replicated on stage. In fact, trying to stage this show is detrimental to its intrinsic meaning. For a deeper analysis, I suggest reading the corresponding chapter in Elissa Guralnick's book, "Sight Unseen."

Sadly, the play has been staged several times and made into a TV movie. It has even recently been adapted as a Broadway musical, which is frankly ridiculous. The original radio version has never been released commercially.

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