Turning 2020 into the 1930s... with twist

Updated: Aug 6, 2020

The road to bringing the radio play back

I remember 2006 – 2007 as being some of the most difficult of my life so far, but two great things did come out of that difficultly. One was the birth of my daughter, the other was being introduced to the decades of the 30’s and 50’s and the impact radio drama had on the world, since I was unable be involved in theatre during my time in Melbourne.

I remember coming up with the idea in late 2006. I wanted to create an online theatre company, and since then I have pondered how I would go about doing this. It started as a way to continue to be creative during this difficult period.

Now with COVID19 pandemic keeping us home, and affecting how the theatrical arts generally operate, I figured it was time to start bringing this particular dream/goal to life.

Above picture: Sitting in the garage to create a Theatre hall effect

Since I am unable to perform The Radioplay Hour as a live show, I decided to take it back to its roots and turn it into a time travelling podcast, that can only be heard on The Drama Merchant website for set amount of days. Much like old time radio serials.

This would allow me to continue finding and recreating stories from the 1930’s – 1950’s, with an aim to do material from the 60’s-90’s in the near future. I could also keep the educational aspect to the show and try to give local musicians a platform to showcase their musical skills and original work, in an easy listening capacity.

Kent Lee, who appeared in THE THIN MAN, lends his voice to Reggie Musgrave and Arts Journalist Giles Pendlebury, created by Douglas Kennedy. Giles is a new character to The Radioplay Hour who will be interviewing Dr. Watson, before he regals us with the story of The Musgrave Ritual.

Kent recorded his dialogue from home and sent them to me via email. I then recorded my voice opposite his, sitting inside my cupboard, as Sherlock Holmes, Watson, and Brunton the Butler. This was a learning experience!

I then edited our vocals together on Audacity, so I do apologise if some of the recordings sound off. I will only get better.

Above picture: my make shift recording booth

My sound engineer and creative partner in these audio adventures, Lee Corrington, devised a theme for Sherlock Holmes, and I am thankful for him allowing me to include it into this show. Other musical pieces heard in the show are by Kevin McLeod and can found on https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/

Upon easing of the restrictions, I was able to invite Douglas Kennedy around to my little studio where we recorded news items from the year 1944. Here you will hear about the cost of living, Fredrick Paterson, also known as Red Fred and the trial of Tony Agostini in what was the beginning of the end of one of the most intriguing murder mysteries in Australian history!

I found that when performing The Radioplay Hour live, music played a healthy part. I was unable to use the vocal talents of Debra & Thein Sykes, as I navigated this process, so asked my fiancé Peta Simeon to sing something for us. She has chosen to sing a cover of Celtic Woman, Caledonia, which originally was written and sung by Dougie Maclean. I will also be playing a selection of music from Harry James and his orchestra, from a bake light record, on my 110yr old gramophone player.

If there is anyone interested in being part of the musical element to this show, and showcasing their original work, please feel free to contact me via my website.

The sound effects are very much a character to The Radioplay Hour being performed live, but I decided this time that you would see them (aside from the photo below).

So on Sunday, I spent the afternoon using sprite bottles, rollers, shoes, tiles, hammers, cutlery, thunder drums, rice packing, cutlery, a creaker box, my trusty wind machine and sheet metal to create the sounds needed for this Sherlock Holmes adventure. (In between police helicopters flying over southport, and hoons!)

The only sound effects I did not create was the sound of a cuckoo clock and an English countryside. I then spent the next 4 hours including them into the audio the track on my laptop.

Above picture: The sound effects of Sherlock Holmes... once again the garage became a cacophony of sound!

Between 2018 – 2019 the concept of The Radioplay Hour was performed live in various locations as the show slowly built its name and found an audience. But now it seems it is time to put it online, as the first step towards myself following up on a goal I made in 2006.

Will it be successful? Who knows... but I've had a fun learning experience laying the first stepping stone... and I must admit I'm pretty chuffed at my end result!

So pour yourself a glass of wine, turn off the lights, visit The Drama Merchant webpage and sit back for 45mins to listen to The Radioplay Hour by glow of the laptop light, or whichever device you use!

The show will be available from 7pm Wednesday night and will run until 14th June 2020. And not to worry there will still be the occasional R.P.H. show performed live – Keep an eye out for December.

As always I would like to thank you, my supporters, for your continued support and always feed back is always grateful.

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