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Bringing Radio Back: L.A. Theatre Works Coming To Campus

Observer Scene | Thursday, October 9, 2008

For most members of our generation, the “radio” is what is used when the iPod is out of battery, you can’t find a good CD on the floor of your car or you’re taking shower late at night. It is a music provider for the moments when no other distraction is available, or a last resort when you’ve run out of music of your own. 

But it wasn’t always that way. The birth of radio meant mass communication in real-time. It meant that everyone across America could tune in and listen to a program together. There was a sense of unity in listening to the radio, a comfort in knowing that by listening to it you were connecting to other people in far away places. One of the biggest draws of early radio was that it was performed live in front of an audience, so the listener could hear a crowd laughing, clapping and being actively involved in the performance.

This weekend, L.A. Theatre Works seeks to bring back that early radio feel with their presentations of “War of the Worlds” and “The Lost World.” “War of the Worlds” is well known for its phenomenal first reception, when Orson Welles (pre-“Citizen Kane”) broadcast the adaptation of H.G. Wells’s story and caused widespread panic. 6 million people heard it, and 1.7 million believed it. Many went to ask their neighbors about it during the broadcast, spreading a word-of-mouth rumor that aliens from Mars were attacking the world. People who then turned on their radio heard a series of news flashes, uninterrupted by radio commercials, and were convinced they were all going to die.

L.A. Theatre Works was founded in 1974 to preserve great dramatic works through audio presentation. They broadcast weekly on the Internet and have many troupes traversing the country in different forms bringing old-fashioned radio theatre to life. 

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday a six member group of cable and television veterans will take the stage at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center to present “War of the Worlds,” along with their version of Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Lost World.” It will be true to the radio style, with limited sets and an emphasis on telling the story through sound. The performance will star Jerry Hardin (“The X-Files,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation”), Josh Clark (“Heroes,” “Star Trek Voyager”), Kenneth Alan Williams (“Will and Grace”), Jen Dede (“Entourage,” “Gilmore Girls”), Peter McDonald (“Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman”) and Kyle Colerider-Krugh.

This is a unique opportunity for anyone to experience what it is like to be part of a live radio audience. This theatrical offering once again demonstrates the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center’s commitment to bringing the Notre Dame community performances that are culturally relevant and yet unique in their once-in-a-lifetime appeal.

Tickets are $45 for the public, $36 for faculty and staff, $34 for seniors and $15 for students.

Contact Stephanie Deprez at sdeprez@nd.edu.