Leeds Playhouse in collaboration with Dream Reality Radio Drama at the Furnace Festival
I should begin by congratulating the writers and thanking Leeds Playhouse for housing this project. From 2021 to 2022 the unpredictable confines of covid dictated when, where and how this initiative would battle its way to completion. A highly talented and dedicated team including Amy Leach, Rio Matchett and Dermot Daly worked with a group of writers that were nothing less than determined to prove their craft. The writers were able to take advantage of some invaluable input from BBC radio producers Toby Swift and John Norton. Counselling, supervision and coaching expert Lucy Bartley returned to lead a session on character psychology.
Radio remains one of the most trusted medium of communication and radio drama is one of the most powerful correspondence tools of the 21st century. The rise of social media and the emergence of the digital age might have altered radios appearance, but it has only served to enhance its potential.
The technology used to send a wireless telegram in 1895 sent audio waves by 1914. Fast forward 25 years and 80% of Americans owned a radio. Radio is far reaching, it stretches the imagination and it is without prejudice. By 1921 sketches were being broadcast and by 1922, WJZ in Newark, New Jersey, began airing Broadway musicals. In the same year a radio station in Schenectady, New York, began to broadcast a weekly serialised program using a cast of actors, sound effects, and music. In the UK the world’s first regular wireless broadcasts for entertainment by Peter Eckersley begin transmission.
“I had conceived the idea of doing a radio broadcast in such a manner that a crisis would actually seem to be happening, and would be broadcast in such a dramatized form as to appear to be a real event taking place at that time, rather than a mere radio play.”
It is fitting that 100 years later Dream Reality Radio Drama can pay some tribute by lending an opportunity for 8 incredible writers to exercise their ambition and craft.
Dream Reality Radio Drama 2022 was able to take advantage of having the work read in front of a live audience at the Leeds Playhouse Furnace Festival. This only served to enhance the end product, the writers were able to hear their work and witness the reaction of the audience before going back to change, tweak and tackle.
From the writing day with guest input, to the Furnace Festival with rehearsed readings performed by a more than capable cast, and witnessed by an enthusiastic audience. From the individual feedback sessions to the many drafts that had to be worked through. Despite all the obstacles, the work that has been made available on this platform provides the listener with captivating characters, thought provoking narratives, and the strong commitment of a group of writers. I hope that they have gained richly from this experience and that they will go on to add to their craft.
As with the 2014 project the natural and non-contrived diversity was a fulfilment of an inclusive approach to talent and representation. Once again the writers who took part in this 2022 project should be proud to have made such a valid contribution, and not just to this individual project but to the vast voice of radio drama. We should note that the participants had never written a script for radio before, it was new to them and a challenge they took on with a skill and dedication that could only be found in natural flair and tenacity.
With thanks to Louis and Naked Production for their audio brilliance, the Authors’ Licencing and Collecting Society (ALCS) for their continued support, and Arts Council England.
Sol B River 2023