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1925 __ How to write a radio play
Comment : “A "RADIO PLAY” what is it ? Simply a play, comedy, tragedy, or what not, written directly for broadcasting. Its definition thus depends wholly on its purpose. A play which is primarily a radio play may, of course, be perfectly adaptable for presentation on the boards, the so-called "legitimate" theatre, inasmuch as the differences between these two are not such as to make them mutually exclusive. It is the special play written for the microphone and received on radio sets in a multitude of homes, that we are going to discuss.A portable door which can be opened and shut to indicate entrances and exits of characters. The bells on the stand give any effect from that of an ambulance to the thin chime of a clock.To write a play for broadcasting one must remember that your play "gets over" through the ear alone. There will be no costumes, settings, make-up, or properties to assist in putting it across. Simple settings, costumes, and properties can be described by the radio announcer. Many interruptions of the action of the play, for interpolated directions, weaken its effect. Therefore, we have a list of things to do, and another of things not to do in writing a play for radio broadcasting. What are the positive requirements to make our radio play effective? First, keep the cast simple. Have only a few characters, so that your audience will not forget them and be confused as to which one is speaking. Then, when you name your people, use names which are clear in sound. Re- member how some names are easy to get over the telephone, and others have to be repeated five or six times before you understand who is speaking. If you are blessed with one of those difficult names, and call up a department store, or telephone a telegram, you will know all about that! Your patience is gone before the matter is even comprehended at the other end. So call your people by names which come clearly to the ear. [...] THEN there is the question of the actual words of your speeches. Use simple and direct English. Make the speeches short enough to be comprehended at one hearing. Do not use dialect which is often difficult to follow, even where the speaker is visible, and over the telephone it is very confusing That means eliminate the humorous Irish brogue, the colored mammy, the Scotch, and various other tempting type parts. Also, it is better judgment and better taste not to use slang, or the curtailed and often grossly incorrect English of the "pedestrian." Good English can be learned through the theatre, as many Settlement dramatic organizations will affirm. The radio program is especially effective in this field because it comes so directly into the home, and because it has so many young listeners, many of whom like to be in style with the latest colloquialisms, at the expense of a real knowledge of their own language. When it comes to the story of the play, give enough in the actual words of your speeches so that the physical activity of the characters is clear. If one man were trying to get some- thing from another, for instance, he might say, "Give that to me, or I will tear it from you." The answer is, "Over my dead body!" A third voice cries a woman's "Don't fight! Oh, you are hurting him!" The first man exclaims, " I have it." Now we know what has taken place, without seeing a thing. There can, of course, be simple sounds, put in by the "property man," such as the shutting of a door, a pistol shot, a bell ringing, the thump of a falling body. The simplest and clearest of these actions can be explained by words in a radio play without being redundant. In general, words must take the place of what would be pantomime in a stage play. This leads to an interesting development the use of the soliloquy, which has been out of date in the legitimate drama for several decades. The soliloquy must represent in the radio play what an actor is feeling, where he could show this to his audience by the working of his face, his hands, his general movements, if our eyes could see him. Still we are out of patience with the long soliloquy, which is merely a stilted recitation. When a man talks to himself, it should therefore be natural, natural in the play and in the character. People who are much alone often do talk to themselves. Under the stress of emotion any one may exclaim aloud, and so the cases multiply. But the soliloquy in the radio play must serve a double purpose. It must continue the action, audibly, while any character is "on the stage" alone. We must hear what he is doing. [...] IT IS advisable to make the radio play short and so avoid tiring the audience. This opens delightful fields for the playwright. Try to interest a Broadway manager in a play which runs less than two hours! Try to make him consider even a two-act play! Yet here in the broadcasting of plays, we are free. Why not write that two-act play which has been bothering you this long while, and try it on the radio? There are many delightful situations which naturally fall into just this division of time or place, but, unfortunately, we know they will have no Broadway market in the two-act form. So we try to fatten them, and spread them, and pull them out of proportion, much to our own grief, and theirs. Another delightful prospect is that of freedom in the choice of setting. The most fantastic, the most extravagant set that the imagination can devise, is nothing to the disadvantage of your play. All you have to do is describe it in words and the announcer in the radio station will read them and create the scene. There should then be a field, here, for many a good play which offers obstacles to a Broadway production. [...] Why, in any case, borrow from preexisting fields, when new horizons open? Why not create a body of dramatic literature primarily intended for this specific purpose, the radio play ?”. (Mildred Weinberger,“How to write a radio play”, In “RADIO BROADCAST”, Vol. VI, no. 6, APRIL 1925, Garden City, N. Y., DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY, 1925, pp. 1044-1049)
Urls : http://www.archive.org/stream/radiobroadcast06gardrich%23page/1044/mode/2up (last visited ) http://www.archive.org/stream/radiobroadcast06gardrich/radiobroadcast06gardrich_djvu.txt (last visited )

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