MY HARD TO DESCRIBE HOBBY – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I’m frustrated. I have a hobby that people don’t understand. I try to explain it to them in different ways until I see the glimmer of recognition in their eyes.

I’m part of an audio theater company. We call ourselves “Voicescapes Audio Theater”. We write and produce short audio plays, both comedy and drama. We post them online and also perform 60-90 minute live shows, whenever we can.

Audio theater is theater that is primarily, audio. Like old time radio dramas, but updated.  We try not to use the phrase ‘radio drama’ because it conjures images of old-fashioned melodrama, kitsch, overacting, and schmaltz. We write modern, sophisticated material attuned to today’s sensibilities and styles. Nothing like the old days.

For generations, radio was a primary form of entertainment around the world. Radio had all the shows TV now does – dramas, mysteries, serial or standalone, sit-coms and other kinds of comedy. Talk shows, game shows, news, documentaries, and of course, music.

In the ‘50’s, television became the entertainment of choice. But in England, radio, in all its original forms, retained its place in the lives of Brits along with television. England continues to have a thriving radio culture. It’s professional, well-financed and popular. The quality is on par with what is available on TV and in movies.

In America, television completely eclipsed radio, and radio almost died out as an art form. On a professional level, radio continues to play music. There are many talk shows and of course, news, but not much else. The other forms of original ‘radio drama’ have been pretty much relegated to the amateur world. The quality is generally not on the same level as its professional, paid counterparts on TV. It also has a fraction of the audience it had in it’s heyday.

So we’re left searching for the right analogy to get across to people what we do. We use the phrase ‘enhanced play reading’. The problem is, “play reading” sounds dry and not ready for prime time. Our pieces are polished productions, complete with sound effects, live and recorded, as well as music. We provide a fully-realized theatrical experience for your ears.

People love our performances. Not to brag, but we’ve been told our writing is clever, brilliant, and thought-provoking. Our actors are experienced, talented professionals. One member of our company, Barbara Rosenblat, is an Audie-award winning audio book narrator, with over 500 audio books to her credit. She has appeared on Broadway and off-Broadway, as well as on television, including on the Netflix series, ‘Orange Is The New Black’. Another member of our company, Robin Miles, has also won Audies and other awards for her audio book narration.

Our one honest-to-God review said that our performance was “A night to remember. Excellent writing and performances. A unique type of humor that audiences will carry with them when they leave.” (Cynthia Allen, Outer Critics Circle and Modern Theater Online).

So, we’re excited about what we do. Everyone who sees or hears us is excited about our product. Once you experience our unique form of entertainment, you ‘get it’ and you’re hooked. The problem is explaining what we do to get people interested in checking us out online or in person.

You can help by going to our website, listening to some or our pieces and spreading the word to your friends. I know that geographically, you can’t all come to our live shows in New York and Connecticut. But we have a whole other life online. We post all our material so anyone and everyone can listen for free.

Here is our website, VOICESCAPES AUDIO THEATER. There is also a link on the sidebar, so you can click any time and see what we do. Enjoy a comedy about driving through the countryside of France with two warring GPS machines. Or a comedy describing the joys of trying to cancel a cable account with customer service. Try one in which a husband and wife argue about whether farts are really funny. There is also a Twilight Zone style drama about the year 2014, when one woman wakes up to a very different and puzzling world. There is even one children’s piece if you have young children or grandchildren.

There should be something for everyone. Please give us a try and let me know what you think!

15 thoughts on “MY HARD TO DESCRIBE HOBBY – BY ELLIN CURLEY

  1. oh I remember radio theater but only as a very small child, and the only radio program I ever recalled was “The Great Gildersleeve” which scared the blazes out of me because at three years old all you hear is that creepy voice and my imagnation told me this was a ghost story and the great gildersleeve was a huge floating white sleeve…

    I have since then discovered various radio play venues and the good ones just yank you right in and hold you there. It’s a joy to find people who actually do this, and are appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hope you go to our website and listen to some of our pieces. It’s nothing like the old time radio plays. It’s all very contemporary in content and style. Nothing too scary or melodramatic! It’s a pity there isn’t more good quality audio theater in America. Maybe it will have a Renaissance since so many people listen to material on their devices these days.

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  2. Preaching to the choir on this one, Ellin.

    I’ll put this one up on my Facebook page. I have a lot of people who follow me, many are “radio days” folks like me who have children and grandchildren. I’ll also “follow” to friends who may be interested.

    I know Sue sometimes gives advance note of productions on Facebook. Do you guys have a promotion “Team”? Your local radio stations and community access TV station/s might help if approached by Tommy and you.

    Good luck. Surely, you know we’re all counting on you.

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    • Thank you for helping to promote our group! We have no money so marketing can be tricky. You could probably give us some good ideas about how to contact local radio and TV stations, something we’ve never done. We have placed articles in local papers though, including online newsletters.

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      • Hi Ellin, I just listened to Till Death Do Us Not Part. I swear I’ve had the exact same conversation and rigamarole with the phone company here in Canada. I nearly died laughing – it was right on the mark. I’ll have a listen to some of the other ones too.
        Leslie

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        • Leslie, Thank you so much for listening! If you liked that one, you’ll love the other comedies too, like Misdirections, Bodily Humors, Kidnapping and Dating 2.0. The dramas are Granny’s Cookies and It Always Feels Like Mondy. Those are the ones tht Tom and I wrote. I would really appreciate it if you would share our website or my blog with your friends. We need to start aggressively promoting ourselves. We’re not very good at social media marketing. Thanks again!

          Liked by 1 person

          • Ellin, is it possible to link one of your plays to a web site? Is it possible to put one of you shorter comedies on wordpress?
            I have to tell you about the time I tried to close a bank account. The clerk wanted to know why and I just said I had my reasons. Well she started the process and said that it would cost $5.00. She went further and said for some reason it didn’t close so it would be another $5.00. This happened about five more times. At that point the clerk started to laugh and so did I (of course). Something was wrong – very wrong. chuckle
            Leslie

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            • Um, I think this is a website. And they have another website, too — the one posted on the right panel (under my book) will take you to it. The problem is getting more traffic to go there. At least this is a step in the right direction.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Leslie, Funny story! As for the Voicescapes website, you can listen to the pieces individually or as a 90 minute show on the website. If you want someone else to hear some of the material, just send them the link to the website. You can send the link to another website if you want, but you have to go to our website in order to listen to anything. Does that answer your question? If not, clarify what you want to do and I’ll get my husband to see what can be done.

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  3. Being raised in England and Australia i have a fondness for Radio and while i loved TV when i was young i find these days it is largely a huge turn OFF, particularly commercial (and it has to be said – mostly American here – but not exclusively so) rubbish. Finding something i can enjoy is not easy these days. Will definitely have a listen and get back to you!

    Thanks Ellen.

    love

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