Cheryl Cluff on her love of radio (audio) drama as she preps for RADIO HOUR EPISODE 8: FAIRYANA

Cheryl Cluff

Cheryl Cluff

Cheryl Cluff co-founded Plan-B in 1991 and is the company’s Managing Director.  She has directed all of Plan-B’s RADIO HOURs, MESA VERDE, THE SCARLET LETTER and SUFFRAGE and has  designed sound for nearly every Plan-B production since 2000.

As we prepare for RADIO HOUR EPISODE 8: FAIRYANA next week, I’m delighted to see a bit of a surge in the popularity of radio drama, or audio drama, as people are calling it now, with the cult-like popularity of podcasts like Welcome to Night Vale. The internet has made radio drama much more accessible and easier to produce and that’s a great thing. I found an interesting article recently, “Internet Saved the Radio Star: The Rise of Podcast Drama” by Sean Bell.

This quote caught my attention: “Whether we’re driving to work, eating dinner, lying in bed in the darkness . . . we can surround ourselves with stories, and thrill to hear voices even when no one’s there.”

However, very few theatres are doing live radio drama with a “studio audience” and also broadcasting live at the same time. There’s a certain magic that happens when you put those two elements (live audience and live broadcast) together. Support from KUER and Doug Fabrizio has been critical and I’m so thankful RadioWest has been our partner on RADIO HOUR since 2005. I love that RADIO HOUR has remained so popular over the years and that people value coming to see the live performance. Listening at home is fun, but being a part of the “live studio audience” is a blast because you get to see how the live sound effects are done and truly appreciate the vocal gymnastics of actors Jay Perry, Teresa Sanderson and Jason Tatom. And when the audience is having fun, the performers have even MORE fun (because we’ve already had buckets of fun during rehearsals) and this energy is funneled into the audience listening at home. It’s like a giant RADIO HOUR energy bouncy ball.

I have loved radio drama since I was a kid and it’s comforting to know that this form of storytelling isn’t dead and people still love being a part of the studio audience, still love gathering around the wireless to listen to an original live radio drama. I’m thrilled to have Dave Evanoff back this year composing and playing original music for the performance. He is a composing God in my opinion. And playing live music during the performance always adds a great extra energy that you don’t get when using music someone else created, that wasn’t created specifically for this show.

Here’s the interesting thing about the person who has the pleasure of being the foley artist. (Michael Johnson was new in this capacity last year – this is his second year with us.) Through the years we’ve learned you don’t just do live sound effects, you act the role of playing the live sound effects MASTER. So it’s a little more complicated than coming out on stage and goofing around with a turkey baster. Well, that sounds awkward, doesn’t it. That’s actually a little sound effects tease right there and won’t be awkward (hardly) at all. Maybe it’ll be a little awkward. Come to RADIO HOUR EPISODE 8: FAIRYANA and find out!

Plan-B Theatre’s #SeasonOfEric continues with Eric Samuelsen’s RADIO HOUR EPISODE 8: FAIRYANA – featuring Dave Evanoff, Michael Johnson, Jay Perry, Eric Robinette, Teresa Sanderson and Jason Tatom, directed by Cheryl Cluff – on Tuesday, December 3 at 7pm in the Jeanne Wagner Theatre at the Rose Wagner.  Also broadcast live on KUER’s RadioWest – you are literally the live studio audience.  Click here for tickets and more info.

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