Radio drama

From Academic Kids

Radio drama (audio drama), which had its greatest popularity in the U. S. and in most other countries before the spread of television, depends on dialogue, music and sound effects to help the listener imagine the story in her or his "mind's eye". It resembles reading, in some ways, more than it does drama performed live. In the television era, some audio drama has been produced and marketed that owes much to radio drama, without ever being broadcast on radio; Caedmon Records's extensive list of audio-only productions of famous plays is an example.

Among the most famous radio dramas are Under Milk Wood, a 'Play for Voices' by Dylan Thomas, and Orson Welles's version of The War of the Worlds, which convinced large numbers of listeners that an actual invasion from Mars was taking place.

Radio drama remains popular in much of the world. Many film, stage and TV writers got their start in radio drama, including Tom Stoppard and Caryl Churchill. Broadcasters that produce radio drama often commission a large number of scripts. The relatively low cost of producing a radio play enables them to take chances with works by unknown writers. Radio is a good training medium for drama writers as the words written form a much greater part of the finished product; bad lines cannot be obscured with 'stage business'.

The lack of visuals also enable fantastical settings and effects to be used in radio plays where the cost would be prohibitive in a visual medium. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was first produced as radio drama, and was not adapted for television until much later, when its popularity would ensure an appropriate return for the high cost of the futuristic setting.

On occasion television series can be revived as radio series. For example a long-running but no longer popular television series can be continued as a radio series because the reduced production costs make it cost-effective with a much smaller audience. When an organisation owns both television and radio channels, such as the BBC, the fact that no royalties have to be paid makes this even more attractive. Radio revivals can also use actors reprising their television roles even after decades as they still sound roughly the same. Series that have had this treatment include Doctor Who, Dad's Army and Thunderbirds.

Radio plays often include the work of Shakespeare and other playwrights.

Radio dramas can be regularly heard on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Radio 1, RTE in Ireland and the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC 7, Radio 4 and Radio 3. The commercial station Oneword, though broadcasting mostly book readings, also has some radio plays in instalments. Radio drama can also be found on ACB radio produced by the American Council of the Blind. The networks sometime sell transcripts of their shows on cassette tapes or CDs or make the shows available for listening or downloading over the Internet.

Transcription recordings of many pre-television shows have been preserved. They are collected, re-recorded onto audio CDs and/or MP3 files and traded by hobbyists today as old-time radio programs.

With 21st Century technology, modern radio drama, also known as audio theater, has begun an exciting new movement. Local radio drama groups such as Crazy Dog Audio Theatre (from Ireland), Texas Radio Theater, and FreeQuincy Radio Theater (from Wisconsin) have kept the spirit of radio drama alive.


See also

External links

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