THE WAR OF THE WORLDS: THE 1938 RADIO SCRIPT by Howard E. Koch
The Radio Broadcast that terrified America : Live
Join us in the “Criterion Studio” as we recreate an infamous moment in radio history: the Orson Welles company’s live US radio broadcast of H.G. Wells's sci-fi classic “The War of the Worlds” on Hallowe’en 1938.
It was reported at the time that the broadcast caused chaos as listeners across America believed that the radio dramatisation was in fact “live news” and that the reports of aliens attacking US cities were real.
For the Criterion recreation of this extraordinary live event, Brian Emeney has assembled a cast to play Orson Welles's actors reading Howard E. Koch's original radio script, while our sound engineers play in “live” sound effects.
We invite you to join the “studio audience”: as we bring you as close as possible to the reality of a live recording session, and as H.G. Wells's alien machines threaten to take over the world.
The two script-in-hand performances of this 1938 classic are timed to be as close as possible to Hallowe’en 2017, for what we hope will be an authentically spooky seasonal treat.
We will be “live on air” in the Criterion auditorium at 7.30pm on Friday October 27th and Saturday October 28th.
For more information about the production please contact the director Brian Emeney at firstname.lastname@example.org. or the Artistic Director at email@example.com
The War of the Worlds: the 1938 Radio Script by Howard E. Koch
Review: An hour of frights as legendary radio broadcast is recreated in Coventry
The radio broadcast terrified the USA
NICK LE MESURIER Email Published: 09:15 Wednesday 01 November 2017
Nick Le Mesurier reviews The War of the Worlds at the Criterion Theatre, Coventry
When it was first broadcast on October 30, 1938, Orson Welles’s radio production of The War of the Worlds allegedly caused mass panic, so realistic did the ‘live’ accounts of an alien invasion from Mars seem. Throughout the broadcast, which lasted around an hour, the public listened, horror struck, as one by one whole cities seemed to fall. Switchboards were jammed; the authorities intervened. Far more people were panicked than had actually heard the broadcast. The play was as much in the reaction as in the action.
And now? Well, if this performance of the original studio broadcast is anything to go by, the power of the drama is still as potent as ever. It would have been so easy for it to have been performed as something kitsch, but it’s taken very seriously, and the jam-packed audience were treated to an hour of frights that got them right under their skin.
Brian Emeney is superb as Professor Pierson, the hero of the drama, and as Welles: an immense presence, as Welles was, who literally conducts his actors to bring them in on cue and to recreate the sounds of chaos. The announcers, Annie Gay and Debra Relton-Elves deliver sharp, on the spot descriptions of the growing tension and the carnage. We see the action on stage as it was in the studio on the night, but we hear the conflict in our minds.
The Criterion does a great job in bringing it all to life, even if we have (arguably) a greater awareness of fake news. *
The performances took place on October 27 and 28. Visit www.criteriontheatre.co.uk for details of future productions at the theatre.