Before we look at the plays themselves,
we need to ask: what is a radio play and how do
we approach it as a form? A radio play is a unique
artistic medium, one perhaps unfamiliar to teachers
and students. The plays in this series, because
they have been adapted from stories, have even more
specialized attributes than most.
Three General Principles
- The radio play is, first of all, a drama.
Drama works through action, rather than narration,
and the spoken, rather than the written, word.
The audience does not read but watches and listens.
They see actual people and hear their voices,
with all the nuances of emotion that blocks
of print cannot carry. Characters in plays must
speak or gesture for us to know their thoughts.
We cannot "read" their minds as we do in written
stories. Thus students need to be attentive
to such dramatic mechanisms as dialogue, monologue,
the aside, even the chorus, to see how characters'
thoughts are being conveyed-in conversation,
in reading aloud, in muttering to themselves
in private. Usually, of course, a play also
functions through the unique features of the
stage-props, curtain, the "three-sided box"
with its fourth, "open" wall.
- In radio plays, however, we cannot see dramatic
movements that convey emotions and ideas. So
here the representation of gesture through sounds
must compensate. The pounding of a fist, the
rocking of a chair, singing, hard breathing-all
give us our sense of a character's response
to a situation. Knowing what to listen for is
the key to the dramatic impact. Because the
radio play depends entirely on sound, the "props"
of drama as a form are adapted. Noises replace
visual aids that would be placed on a stage,
and so the radio dramatist must be ingenious
with how props sound-bells, doors, machines,
furniture, musical instruments, clothing, traffic-all
of these build the dramatist's repertoire of
communication. As we will point out below, the
development of active listening skills is essential
for radio play audiences. In particular students
will need, in these plays, to pay attention
to tone of voice, to pitch, and to loudness
and softness. They will need to work on developing
a vocabulary for the emotions, the physical
and mental states, that speech can convey: anger,
fear, tenderness, surprise, resolve, joy, weariness,
relief, among others.
- These radio plays are literature. Thus as
students listen, their knowledge of literary
techniques serve them well. Matters such as
character development, setting, the shifts in
plot from introduction to climax and resolution,
the use of metaphors and objects that carry
symbolic meaning, often through the weight of
repetition-all of these are the means through
which the radio play makes its points. One of
the best ways to use this series is to encourage
students to think how the written medium must
be transformed for drama in general and for
the radio play in particular.
||Dr. Deborah Hooker, Director
Women's and Gender Studies
Department of Interdisciplinary Studies
NC State University
||Send inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2013 Women's and Gender Studies - Department of Interdisciplinary Studies - NC State University