KISMET OR KARMA? – BY ELLIN CURLEY

My husband, Tom and I are part of an audio theater group called “Voicescapes Audio Theater.” This is our main hobby and our passion.

Tom and I write original short scripts (eight to twenty-five minutes) for our group, both comedies, and dramas. Tom also directs, edits, and handles all the technical aspects of our audio productions, such as sound effects, microphones, sound equipment, recording, etc. Tom is also now doing online marketing for us on Facebook and Instagram. He has created and manages our website, https://www.voicescapesaudiotheater.com.

You can go to our website and listen to all of our pieces in the podcast section. You can also watch a video of an eight-minute piece, “Kidnapping 101” to get a sense of what it’s like to watch us perform live. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EckvRFlDOFs

Tom acting in “Kidnapping 101”

As I mentioned above, we also do live performances. This is not a simple operation. We need to pack tons of audio equipment into our SUV. We have to use a ramp to get the heaviest, bulkiest piece into the car. Then we have to unload everything and hook it up at the venue. The set-up takes from two to three hours. After our one to one and a half hour performance, we have to break everything down and reload the car. Then we get to unload again when we get home. It’s quite an undertaking. A true labor of love.

Tom loading our largest piece of equipment into the car

Our shows are a compilation of our short pieces, usually with a mix of comedies and dramas. We get a great response whenever we perform. People love our shows and praise our writing, acting, and overall productions. Our shows are nothing like the overdone, dated radio dramas from the old days of radio. They are more like sophisticated, clever, modern short plays.

We haven’t been able to reach large audiences yet. One problem is that people don’t really understand what audio theater is. It’s really just a form of theater – with actors on a stage performing a dramatic piece. The actors are just standing behind music stands, reading from their scripts as they act. They are accompanied by sound effects and music, which make it a full, dramatic performance.

Three actors performing. The guy in the back is doing sound effects

Our other problem is that we don’t have the money to do adequate marketing, in general, or for individual performances. So, among other venues, we have been performing at libraries in Westchester, NY for two reasons. First, they do their own marketing and get their own audiences (usually 20-40 people). Secondly, they pay us! Not much but it more than covers our costs.

Sande in character

So we performed at a beautiful library in Mt. Kisco, NY a few weeks ago. One of our group members, Sande, invited eight friends to our performance. They arrived and we chatted with them while we waited for the rest of the audience from the library. Five minutes before the show. No one. Five minutes after we were scheduled to perform. No one. There are still only Sande’s eight friends in the audience.

Part of our Mt. Kisco performance

The library person who booked us apologized and admitted that they have trouble getting people to show up to any of their events. Now she tells us! At least their check cleared!

We went ahead with the performance anyway. The show must go on! It was demoralizing to have literally no one from the library or the town show up. But we gave it our all. It turns out that those eight people were an awesome, enthusiastic audience! In one piece, three women were laughing so hard they were crying. That is very gratifying to a performer! So it turned out to be a positive experience for everyone.

Another group of actors performing at Mt/ Kisco

Skip ahead a week. One of the women who was laughing uproariously was so impressed with us she told her friend about us. Her friend works at a New York Community Arts Council. That group has two theaters and has regular shows that draw large audiences.

They were excited to hear about us and immediately booked us for a show for next year in their 60 seat theater. They said they expected to fill the theater with no trouble. In addition, we’re getting paid more than twice what we get from the libraries pay us!

Sande and Tom acting up a storm!

So maybe we were meant to be in Mt. Kisco, despite the lack of audience. Our private show for Sande’s friends produced a wonderful and totally unforeseen result. A big positive for our group rose from the ashes of a less than successful show.

Kismet or Karma? Either way, we’ll take it!

29 thoughts on “KISMET OR KARMA? – BY ELLIN CURLEY”

    1. Thanks! We know we’re good. We are professionals who work hard and come up with really good content. The problem is getting ourselves known and maybe getting a sponsor to finance some real marketing. We’re doing whatever we can with the resources we have!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Ellin — you and Tommy are absolutely amazing and admirable. The sheer effort, creative and physical, you put into your radio dramas is incredible for those of us in the same age group. Your road shows obviously bring pleasure to people who otherwise would not be able to enjoy such quality entertainment. I’m sure radio drama rekindles pleasant memories for many people.

        I’m putting this up on my Facebook page. Hopefully, you’ll get some responses and support.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you, Garry, for your compliments and your support! Also thanks for putting us up on your Facebook page. The more exposure we gt, the better!

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Good audiences are what we live for! And some of our best audiences have been small – our 8 person fiasco was very enthusiastic and vocal and we had a 20 person audience that laughed so loud and long we had to stop performing to wait for them to calm down!

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much for actually watchinbg our youtube video! You can also listen to our other pieces on the website. The Kidnapping piece is our most popular, even with people who don’t know New York. I think the reason is that the situations are universal – every city or town has different routes to get around. And people always argue about the best way to get from here to there. My ex and his father were always arguing about which hiway in New Jersey was the fastest to get to my sister-in-law’s house!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I listened to two of the podcasts last night. Of course I had to hear “On the Internet Nobody Knows You’re a Dog.” I’ve bookmarked the page to go back to and also sent a link to a group of friends who I thought might enjoy it.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you for listening to some of our podcasts! Listening to a few different pieces gives you an idea of our range and our style. It Always Feels Like Monday is a sci-fi piece that is very thought provoking. Misdirections takes you with a married couple on a funny but problem filled drive through France. If you have time, listen to them all and by all means, tell your friends about us!

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for watching and appreciating what we do. It really is live theater – just with a slightly different format. I think we should market ourselves more as a theater troupe with a twist instead of emphasizing the audio part of the equation. The actress in Kidnapping, Barbara Rosenblat, is a famous audio book narrator as well as a Broadway actress. She has also been in many TV shows, like Law and Order and Orange is the New Black. She is awesome!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. ‘Theater troupe with a twist’ is a great marketing title. Watching the body language to go with the voice is so wonderful! I hope you get more of the audience you deserve.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. We’re going to put online some more videos of our pieces. I think people just relate better to a video than to a purely audio performance. There is a huge audience for audio books, but I don’t think it translates to our form of audio theater. For theater, people are used to a visual element, so we’ll try to accommodate that audience.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. We’ve been doing this for over 5 years. But you’re right. Everyone starts small and has to work their way up. I’m just getting too old to think in terms of a long term process. But we’ll keep plugging away doing whatever we can and performing wherever we can.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I had to listen to your you-tube video and I had a huge laugh – I don’t know about you guys but in Switzerland, we had like forever emissions which are called ‘Hörspiel’ – hören = listen, Spiel = game – and still now I search what I can listen to online. It’s to me a totally wonderful experience and I laud you for doing this live. But I also understand your public who doesn’t know what this is and expects to see a PLAY… it’s maybe something that needs to be more often explained – have you thought of doing a TED talk about this? That’s the ONE place where everybody gets something to learn! Bravo, in any case – that was magic fun! And all that swearing of the victim’s wife!!! 😉 I wonder how well that went down – some ppl are very touchy on this subject. But well do she did!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for seeing this as theater! I try to explain to people that it is just theater done in a slightly different format. It’s still a theatrical experience even though it’s called audio theater.

        Like

    1. Thank you for listening to our online performance! We do need to find more ways to explain to people what we do. Whenever people see or hear us, they love us. The trick is to get people to come to our website or to our performances. That’s our biggest hurdle.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your support and encouragement. We have been working at this for over 5 years and we are finally seeing an increase in interest in and understanding of what we do. We love it and want to share our art form with other people.

      Like

    1. I’m so thrilled that four people actually went to watch or listen to us online! And Garry posted us on his Facebook page and another reader told her friends about us. So this has been a great networking, PR tool. Thanks!

      Like

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