Writing Audio Drama offers a comprehensive and intelligent guide to writing sound drama for broadcasting and online. This book uses original research on the history of writing radio plays in the UK and USA to explore how this has informed and developed the art form for more than 100 years.
Audio drama in the context of podcasting is now experiencing a global and exponential expansion. Through analysis of examples of past and present writing, the author explains how to create drama which can explore deeply psychological and intimate themes and achieve emotional, truthful, entertaining and thought-provoking impact. Practical analysis of the key factors required to write successful audio drama is covered in chapters focusing on audio play beginnings and openings, sound story dialogue, sustaining the sound story, plotting for sound drama, and the best ways of ending audio plays. Chapters are supported by online resources which expand visually on subjects discussed and point to exemplar sound dramas referenced in the chapters.
This textbook will be an important resource for advanced undergraduate and postgraduate students taking courses such as Podcasting, Radio, Audio Drama, Scriptwriting, and Media Writing.
Updates and additions for Chapter 11 ‘Film, Internet and Stage dimensions to Sound Story Telling’ in Writing Audio Drama by Tim Crook published by Routledge in 2023.
This chapter investigates and discusses the relationship between sound and vision with how digital multimedia has expanded the possibilities of greater interactivity for listeners.
Analysis of examples of radio plays transferring to theatre, television and film such as the BBC’s Dad’s Army, Lucille Fletcher’s Sorry Wrong Number, and Jeremy Sandford’s research and writing of the life of Nigerian migrant David Oluwale in the early 1970s.
What was gained and lost with Orson Welles’s introduction of radio drama techniques of narrative and sound in the film Citizen Kane.
Interactivity actually brings in the audience to contribute authorship, and make their own choices when offered a contingency of narrative options.
The radiophonique/audiogenic end to the iconic UK ITV series Upstairs Downstairs in 1975
The final sequence of this series offers an evocative and successful use of radio/audio drama style montage in a television drama series mainly shot and directed in the studio, which was the style and produciton tradition of the time.
‘Whither Shall I Wander?’ completed the fifth season of the period drama created by Jean Marsh and Eileen Atkins, and developed by Alfred Shaughnessy for London Weekend Television.
It first aired on 21 December 1975 on ITV and ran for 68 hour long episodes between 1971 and 1975.
For many years it represented the conclusion of the story of the characters of 165 Eaton Place, Belgravia London until 2010 when the BBC revived the programme with a new series.
The memories of ghosts and dramatic scenes past is run as sound sequences when Rose, played by the programme’s co-creator Jean Marsh, walks alone through the abandoned and lifeless house.
The memories she recalls are associated with each room before she finally leaves the property, which bears a sign showing that it has been listed for sale.
The episode was written by John Hawkesworth and directed by Bill Bain.
Steve Phillips’ comprehensively detailed website about the series provides a summary of the episode:
‘…and Rose is left all alone in the house to check to see that all has been left in order. She starts in the attic and works her way down and recalls the bittersweet times – weddings, royal visits, telegrams, and the voices she has known and loved in this house.”…and Rose is left all alone in the house to check to see that all has been left in order. She starts in the attic and works her way down and recalls the bittersweet times – weddings, royal visits, telegrams, and the voices she has known and loved in this house.’
He also provides an additional factfile revealing that the last episode was the longest at 55 minutes:
‘As Rose wanders through the empty house, we hear audio extracts from old episodes. These include the voices of departed cast members, Pauline Collins, Karen Dotrice, Rachel Gurney and Simon Williams.’
The analogue nature of the poduction (in the pre-digital age) is exemplified by the kind of echo created to mark the end of the audio memories. There is an increasing metallic clanking crashing effect as the feedback is accelerted with the sound fader being pulled up to increase the volume.
The sound sequence is radio dramatic because it could standalone in sound only without the visual presentation and performance, though the context of the empty rooms and Rose’s rueful countenance provides an effective dramatic fusion of the audiovisual.