Hungry for radio drama? Read an interview conducted by William Spear of Lit Between the Ears with Stephanie Ciccarelli of Voices.com.
LIT: How is radio drama similar to, and different from, stage, film or television?
STEPHANIE: Radio drama is truly theatre of the mind.
Similarities do abound of course between radio drama and pieces performed on the stage, film and television, however, the ability to move, inspire, and create solely through the collaboration of the human voice and the mind is a magnificent feat that requires the utmost discipline, insight and flawless interpretation of a voice actor.
To recognize the obvious, radio drama lacks a visual component and therefore is subject to the interpretation of the listener through sound and speech.
Theatre, film, and particularly, live performances, are all visual experiences that generously communicate to their audiences through additional senses such as sight, smell, and touch while incorporating sound and speech. As radio drama caters specifically to sound and speech, the most universally heightened of the senses, opportunities arise for a richer listening experience free from external distraction while enabling an audience member to conjure up their own visual version of the radio drama. In radio drama, the script needs to be expertly written, accommodating the intellectual needs a listener.
The voice actors role is to breathe life into the script and the producers role is to observe all Foley elements as are required to enhance the performance while providing additional mental stimulation for the audience. I liken this parallel to the intellectual experience and satisfaction that reading quality literature brings. Performers of radio dramas are actors, there is no question about it. It is simply a different application that provides its own unique set of challenges and adventures. In order to perform a voice acting role, a person needs to be first and foremost an actor at heart.
In fact, many people use physical gestures and dialog with each other in sessions similarly to how actors feed off of each others energy on stage, film or television.
There is a real chemistry that comes across when voice actors have synergy with their cast mates, quite comparable to the same electricity that face-to-face acting brings.
LIT: What should radio dramatists and production companies do to reach new listeners?
STEPHANIE: Radio dramatists and production companies have an enormous opportunity to reach new listeners on a global scale. Using podcasting as a means to attract new listeners is fundamental to the success and continued discovery of this art form through popular and new media. There are several independent radio theatre troupes around the globe that have sought to expand their audience through podcasting and have affiliated themselves with websites that facilitate the spreading of their message, including organizations such as LibriVox.org, a group of people dedicated to recording audiobooks and making audio dramas more accessible to the public.
Submitting an established radio drama to podcast directories is also a brilliant way to increase the circulation, mind-share (and ear-share) as well as awareness for the craft. One popular radio drama I discovered this year, The Radio Adventures of Doctor Floyd, leveraged the celebrity status of one of their cast members, June Foray, to boost its appeal and gain a larger listenership. Voice actors who perform audio dramas ally themselves with Voices.com to help promote their work and gain a wider reach concerning new listeners and even new members of their radio drama clubs. For instance, there is the Amateur Voice Acting Group (AVAG) in San Diego, California established by David Johnson, a member of Voices.com.
We helped to promote his voice acting group and have covered several podcast and audio drama releases that their club has produced. A membership at Voices.com is without question one of the best investments and outlets for voice professionals in the radio drama field. Voices.com is home to over 8,000 voice actors who are representative of over 100 languages.
Each voice actor is encouraged to upload a sample of their voice and list their work or voluntary experience. Many of our talent have started out as narrators for audiobooks produced for the blind as a stepping stone in their careers.
LIT: What is your favorite piece of radio drama and why?
STEPHANIE: I’d have to say, anything narrated by Canadian actress Mary Walsh has my vote. Although I don’t have a particular favorite, the CBC (similar in format to the American NPR) has a wonderful selection of audio dramas and audiobooks (Between the Covers) to choose from that are aired weekly via radio and podcast.
One of the more cutting-edge audio dramas that I have heard recently is Afghanada, an audio drama that chronicles the experiences of a fictitious group of Canadian soldiers stationed in Afghanistan. The wit, humor, and sound effects as well as fantastic voice casting make this radio drama something to aspire towards for new producers of radio dramas.
LIT: Thanks for stopping by, Stephanie, and Happy New Year.
STEPHANIE: Best wishes for a Happy and Healthy 2007 to you and yours.
To read the interview at Lit Between the Ears, click here.