BMDS to present staged radio play
It was a dark and stormy night when Carol Birch rushed home to catch her favourite BBC radio play.
She was just settling into bed with a warm cup of tea to listen, when the electricity went off.
She ended up listening to it in her car, at midnight, tea cup still in hand.
The lifelong fan of radio dramas is thrilled to be directing a staged radio play for the Bermuda, Musical and Dramatic Society, Morris Panych's 7 Stories.
In 7 Stories, Shawn Angiers plays a man on a ledge, seven stories up. He is apparently contemplating suicide, when he is interrupted by the colourful residents of the seventh floor. They're too caught up in their own lives to question his presence.
“It is a bit existential but he never says he wants to end it all,” said Jenn Campbell. “He is just contemplating. No one says to him, ‘Hey, are you okay?'. There is tons of dialogue. People try to engage him, but it is always about them, never about him.”
Ms Campbell plays one of The Jingle Belle Singers. They perform original jingles written by Chris Broadhurst.
Audience members will be treated to a pre-show by the trio.
“These girls sing so beautifully in harmony” said Ms Birch. “They really are a treat.”
The play wasn't originally written for radio but Ms Birch believed the script easily lent itself to the medium.
“In the play the actors are constricted with a small ledge and windows that they look out of,” she said.
“I have had the script a long time and was going to do a regular full acting show but was always a bit worried about how limited their movement would be within the confines of the set.
“When I was looking for a radio play to do I came across this script again and realised it was perfect.”
Ms Birch said the hardest thing about staging a radio play was getting over the perception that it would be boring to watch.
“It won't just be someone standing in front of a microphone reading,” she said. “The cast will be in costume which will help our live audience and will be reacting and acting with each other rather than a typical radio recording where they just stand and speak into a mic.”
Staging such a play had many challenges, Ms Birch added.
“One of them was finding the right sounds to go with the actions that are going on,” she said.
“In a real radio play, the sound artists don't necessarily use the actual object that is being used on stage. For example, in H G Wells' radio drama War of the Worlds, to make the sound of the spaceship opening they used the sound of a jar being opened while being held over a toilet.”
Tommy Smith is handling the sound effects. To make the sound of a vase breaking he dropped something heavy into a box of glass he called his crash box. Another challenge was the script itself. Rather than reciting their lines, the actors perform with script in hand.
Ms Birch thought this was both a plus and a drawback.
“In one scene there is a fight,” said Ms Birch.
“The actors are fighting each other with one hand and trying to keep their eye on their scripts.
“It will be funny to watch, but balancing the action with reading the script has been a challenge for everyone. You always think it will be lovely to have the script in hand, but it is actually not. It gets in the way.”
BMDS will record 7 Stories and hopes it will one day be heard on the radio for real.
“I just think it would be fun for the radio audience and something different,” Ms Birch said. “There is a great radio following in Bermuda but it is mostly music and talk shows. I thought some of the older listeners would have been bought up on radio and might enjoy it.”
That plan is still in its infancy however. First they have to see what the sound quality is like on the recording.
“It would be a first for BMDS but I think many years ago there was a group out at the base that recorded radio plays,” she said.
7 Stories opens at Daylesford Theatre at 8pm on Thursday and runs until Saturday. The play closes but then resumes on March 26, 27, 28. Tickets are available at www.bmds.bm for $20.