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The Playwrights Forum > The Art & Craft of Writing > The Playwrights' Gym - Re-writes > Adapting for radio

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 Posted: Sun Mar 4th, 2007 12:33 pm
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theatralite
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Mana: 
I struggling to turn a couple of stage plays into radio plays. I'd welcome any tips on how to achieve this or suggested sources of advice.
Thanks

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 Posted: Sun Mar 4th, 2007 03:56 pm
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in media res
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theatralite,

This quote is meant to encourage you. It comes rom Ken Burns' PBS documenatry about radio.

When televison started to highly compete with radio in the early 1950's a young boy was asked by a reporter, "Which do you like better, Radio or television?"

The little boy responded, "Radio."

The interviewer then asked, "Why Radio?"

The little boy responded, "Because the pictures are better."

Most really great radio commercials are "storyboarded" visually just like a movie, so the actors and director can get a sense of what is going on to help convey that to a "listening only" audience. We all know the pictures in our head are greater than anything we can actually see. Think of when you go to a play reading ( if done well) how you actually see things. If someone says the setting is a junkyard, what do you see? And hear? And smell? And feel?

Good radio is like a good poem. It is of the senses. You know what your setting in your play looks like. You know the sounds that are necessary to convey action. And the language must not get bogged down in description. Your audience will be bored to death.

Now literally go put headphones on to block out all sound. (Earbuds will not work.) Or sit in a drakened closet or small room. Shut you eyes. Sit quietly and imagine what you need to HEAR to get your point across. Simple example: if we hear crickets, we know it is night. If we hear a rooster we know it is dawn.

Here is a site that may help you if you want to spend some money: http://www.amazon.com/Midwest-Radio-Theatre-Workshop-Teaching/dp/157677032X

Here is another if you do not want to spend some money: http://www.ruyasonic.com/

And here is another: http://www.audiotheater.com/atwho.html

Also, librarys usually have a lot of radio drama you can listen to to get the gist of it all. If yours does not, they usually have Library inter loan agreements with larger or university libraries that will deliver them to you local library.

I can tell you when I write a play, or any story of any kind, and even some business letters depending on the receiver, I always think of writing for the ear as well as the visual. I ask, "What image or sense awareness will this convey in their heads?"

Good luck with it.

in media res

Last edited on Sun Mar 4th, 2007 03:58 pm by in media res

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 Posted: Sun Mar 4th, 2007 09:15 pm
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theatralite
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Mana: 
Thanx for the info.
I checked out both sites and found Tony Palermo's
particularly useful for my immediate purpose.
I was also pleased to note that I had one of the
radio history books he mentioned and I do have not
only the OTR cassette set he mentions but another
half dozen in that series and quite a few MP3 OTR
discs. Though I'll chase some of the additional sources
mentioned on that second site when time permits
Again many thanks.

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 Posted: Sun Mar 11th, 2007 04:44 am
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tobias
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Also go to radiowork.com

The Williamette Radio Workshop in Portland. They have recent plays posted as mp3's.

Also, if you haven't written much radio, check out http://www.rightbetweentheears.org

It's a long time radio comedy show- you can listen to episodes. They are usually short sketches. but you can get a good sense of sound effects and dialog.

 

Remember in radio,everyone can hear you scream, but an hour of screaming gets kind of dull.

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 Posted: Mon Mar 12th, 2007 02:47 pm
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theatralite
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Again many thanks
I'll chase those links up

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