On Sunday, October 30th, 1938, a wave of mass hysteria seized thousands of radio listeners throughout America. Between 8:15pm & 9:30pm, a dramatization of “The War of the Worlds” led thousands of listeners to believe that America had been invaded by Martians, spreading wide death and destruction in New Jersey and New York.
Broadcast over the Columbia Broadcasting System radio network, listeners apparently missed or did not listen to the introduction which was:
“The Columbia Broadcasting System and its affiliated stations presents Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre on the air, in “The War of the Worlds” by H.G. Wells”
It is believed people ignored the three additional announcements made during the broadcast emphasizing its fictional nature.
A member of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission investigating the broadcast at the time, had said:
“any broadcast that creates such general panic and fear as this one is reported to have done, is to say the least, regrettable."
This is not the first time I have directed and performed “The War of the Worlds”. I got my first chance at directing this masterpiece of audio theatre in 2016 for an intimate audience of 50 people in a small cafe in Bonogin. That show was performed with the audience seated in front of a radio with the performers behind it at microphones, just as The Radioplay Hour has generally been staged.
This staging of the show will also take place for an intimate audience of 30 people at Gold Coast Little Theatre on Halloween October 31st at 1:00pm, where the bar theatre bar will be open and serving drinks.
But if you are looking for a different kind of experience, I am performing this show in the way I have always envisioned it… with groups of people sitting in different locations of a house, with only their imaginations to provide the images.
On October 26th at 3pm & 6:30pm & October 27th 2pm & 5pm, at Preece House, Nerang, seating will be set up differently as the show is performed live before your every ears!
10 seats will be available in the living room, 6 in the kitchen and 6 in the drawing room, each will have a radio set up in the room. Although the radio does not work, it will still give the same impression.
Seated in these rooms the audience will need to let their imagination take them back to the time 1938. I’m even happy if you wish to come dressed in costume of the period to help, as you begin to listen & experience a typical evening of radio programming which is then interrupted by a series of news bulletins describing the destruction of New Jersey & New York.
But not to worry, you can still catch a glimpse of the actors and sound effects through the doorways. They just won’t be the main focal point.
When we reach the second half of the show it shifts to a more conventional style of radio play.
The cast for the show include new comers: Barry Gibson, Michael Beard, Peter Van Werkhoven, and returnee's Ken Sauers, Baily Seymour Smith, Ryan Littler, Deaken Folk and Jenna Baker.
A second short radio play will also be performed at the end of "War of the Worlds" making the run time at 70-80min
B.Y.O. Alcohol, drinks and nibbles is welcomed at Preece House, but tea and coffee will also be provided.
Tickets can be purchased for both events on The Drama Merchant website on either The Radioplay Hour or Session Times.