HOUSTON, Sept. 21, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- October is a time for fall foliage, cooler temperatures, and classic horror movies. It's also the best time of year to enjoy audio drama – whether it's bloodcurdling horror, or a chatty radio comedy from the past. October 30th is "World Audio Drama Day," commemorating "The War of the Worlds," which first thrilled listeners on October 30th, 1938, and thousands of audio dramas that followed.
Orson Welles' infamous broadcast has long been a gateway to audio drama. "It was the first radio drama I remember hearing," says Pete Lutz, a writer-producer and creator of the Pulp-Pourri Theatre podcast. "My parents bought it in LP form when I was a boy, and I played it over and over again, never tiring of the story -- it remains, more than 40 years later, my favorite radio drama."
Meanwhile, Jack Bowman, one of the creators of the Victorian-era thriller "Springheel'd Jack," also discovered a related alien invasion – and not on Halloween, but on Bonfire Night. "Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds – though that's a Prog Rock musical album–" he explains. "I was then introduced to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy radio drama, followed by Doctor Who: Paradise of Death on BBC Radio 5."
Science fiction and fantasy stories like "The Springheel Saga" are the most popular with modern audio drama audiences. Many fans of "old time radio" – the pre-podcast classics - also prefer genre works, from the long-running "Suspense" to Canadian horror anthology "Nightfall."
Bowman explains, "Both science fiction and fantasy are incredibly rich in terms of visual imagery – and there's no medium that can carry visuals and the imagination freely as audio." He notes, "You are only limited by what you can generate in your imagination."
"Creators can tell stories via audio drama for a fraction of the cost of shooting a film or web video series, and these shows can be distributed easily to an audience in a very direct way," notes Richard Wentworth, a voice actor, announcer, and co-creator of the science fiction comedy "Hadron Gospel Hour."
A website, AudioDramaDay.com, now features articles that can help new listeners discover audio dramas from the past and the present, as well as an open calendar of events for audio drama creators to list live performances and broadcasts, including 11th Hour, a rollicking creative experiment that lets creators build a crowdsourced horror tale in record time. "Last year, we recorded in historic Lowell, MA," Richard Wentworth explains, "with a great gang of audio dramatists from all over the eastern seaboard. It was a genuine blast to collaborate in real time with other folks from the community."
Audio drama fans enjoy modern technical improvements – using podcast syndication, improved equipment, and social media - continuing the legacy of Welles' broadcast, which terrorized audiences with an innovative "docudrama" format and time compression. "Modern audio drama is on the cutting edge of storytelling styles," argues Pete Lutz. "And modern sound design mimics the immersive way people receive TV and film today."
"Audio drama is in a very special and exciting place right now," explains Wentworth. "Creators are seeing their audiences swell, but there's still a 'Wild West' vibe out there, where the rules are undefined, where anything goes and every experiment is worth trying once."
He adds, "We have existential space operas, sitcoms, adventure, mystery, contemporary horror, cyberpunk, love stories, musicals -- all being told in the most intimate way: whispered in our ears."
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