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 exemplary 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.
The content of all the companion web-pages for this project is in the process of development, and completion is expected 31st December 2023 following the publication of the printed book 31st March 2023. Many thanks for your patience and consideration.
Updates and additions for ‘Chapter 5 Beginning the Sound Story’ in Writing Audio Drama by Tim Crook published by Routledge in 2023.
The consensus in audio and radio drama writing is that no liberties can be taken with a listener’s patience and attention.
The first few minutes are critical.
Without hooking and driving the audience to excitement, enigmatic intensity, intrigue and curiosity, dramatist and producer fail together.
What is the advantage of symmetry and to what extent can mystery be accentuated in sound play beginnings?
Chapter includes detailed analysis of the beginning of the following plays: Vissi ‘d’arte by Paul Sirett, Cigarettes and Chocolate by Anthony Minghella, Sorry, Wrong Number by Lucille Fletcher, The War of the Worlds by Howard Koch, three radio plays in Destination Freedom by Richard Durham, The Wasted Years by Caryl Phillips Lifetime by Nigel D. Moffatt, Undecided Molecule by Norman Corwin and The Battle of the Warsaw Ghetto by Morton Wishengrad.
Page 111. From line 26. When replacing ‘ibid’ text notation with specific author’s name and date, two mistaken attributions have occured. They are corrected below:-
He quoted the legendary pioneer of British television drama in the 1950s and 1960s, Sydney Newman who said rather vividly ‘Catch them by the goolies as they get up to switch the set off and you’ve got them for half an hour’ (MacLoughlin, 1998). The beginning is vital – an important conclusion:
The switch off button is never far away. As a writer you probably have about a minute, two at the outside, to engage your listener. However wonderful the rest of the play, if your beginning does not captivate the listeners, they will never stay to be enchanted.
Apologies to Shaun MacLoughlin and Vincent McInerney for these mistakes in the printed text.
Extracts selected and analysed in the printed text for the purposes of criticism and review, scholarship and learning.
Vissi d’arte by Paul Sirett.
Analysis engaged page 91, paragraph 5, page 92, paragraphs 1 to 3, page 93, paragraph 1:
‘Having trouble Mr Wilson?’ … It’s not stuck Mr Wilson it’s locked.’ … ‘I do know the opera Mr Wilson. In fact, I know the opera intimately.’
‘Two minutes Mr Wilson, Two minutes’ … ‘Final call. Final call Mr Wilson. On stage now, please.’
‘Listen, please? Are you still there? Hello! Hello! Help! Help!’
‘Who the hell are you?’
‘My name is not important right now. You’ll know it soon enough. I was at the audition. I should be playing Spoletta. I deserve the chance.’
Cigarettes and Chocolate by Anthony Minghella (1954 – 2008).
Analysis engaged page 93, paragraph 4:
‘If you’d like to leave a message for Gemma’
‘It’s me. Listen’ (Minghella 1989:125).
Analysis engaged page 94, paragraph 1:
‘Can I come round later for sex?’
‘Take pity on me’ (ibid).
Analysis engaged page 94, paragraph 2:
‘Gemma, look it’s Alistair’ (ibid).
‘don’t think of it as a problem, you know, think of it as a not very good poem’ (ibid)
Analysis engaged page 94, paragraph 3:
‘Gemma? I suppose you’re out. Could you please telephone when you get in’ (ibid 126).
‘Rob. Two-thirty. I’m at work. Call me’, then ‘It’s Rob’ and finally ‘sighs, puts the phone down (ibid 126-7).
Analysis engaged page 94, paragraph 4:
‘I’ve got a scan at three tomorrow and I could go straight from that, so will you phone and let me know yes or no so I can make the appointment? It’s much easier when you’ve got someone with, and Sample has a horror…actually if I could choose you’d come with me for the scan as well, would you hate Cut Off. Tone) (ibid 126).
‘There’s a queue, Gem, and it’s starting, what do I do? Just hurry up, will you!’ (ibid)
Analysis engaged page 95, paragraph 1 & 2:
‘The day I stopped talking was one of those perfect days we have in England’ (ibid127).
‘Italy was a glass of dark wine swilled in the mouth. And I’d spoken to them all, in turn, carefully, loving them all, like suicide in a way: to stop talking. Like killing oneself’ (ibid).
CBS Radio announcement for Lucille Fletcher’s Sorry, Wrong Number and continuity in 1943
Analysis engaged page 96, paragraph 1:
MUSIC: SPOOKY THEME MUSIC UP THEN BED UNDER ANNOUNCEMENTS AND HOLD TILL END
MAN IN BLACK: This is the Man in Black… Here again to introduce Columbia’s programme Suspense. Our star tonight is one of the most compelling actresses in America today. Here in a new study in terror by Lucille Fletcher called Sorry, Wrong Number.
This story of a woman who accidentally overheard a conversation with death and who strove frantically to prevent murder from claiming an innocent victim is tonight’s tale of suspense. If you have been with us on these Tuesday nights, you will know that Suspense is compounded of mystery and suspicion and dangerous adventure. In this series of tales calculated to intrigue you, stir your nerves, to offer you a precarious situation and then withhold the solution and so it is with Sorry, Wrong Number and the performance of Agnes Moorehead, we again hope to keep you in…
(Fletcher /CBS 1943)
Quotation from Barnouw 1940 (The Octoroon, from the Great Plays series NBC continuity)
Analysis engaged page 97, paragraph 2:
BURNS MANTLE: …And now for the characters in our play. First there is Mrs. Pyton of Plantation Terrebonne in Louisiana.
(MUSIC: BACKGROUND THROUGH: )
MRS. PEYTON: …O sir, I don’t value the place for its price but for the many happy
days I’ve spent here. My nephew is not acquainted with our
customs in Louisiana but he will soon understand.
MANTLE: Her nephew is George.
GEORGE: I have never met in Europe any lady more beautiful in person or
more polished in manners than this girl Zoe.
MANTLE: The inventive Yankee overseer is Salem Scudder.
SCUDDER: I reckon this picture taking machine o’mine will be a big thing
MANTLE: And Zoe of course is the Octoroon.
ZOE: My father gave me freedom. May heaven bless him for the
happiness he spread around my life.
MANTLE: But Jacob M’Closky has more definite ideas.
M’CLOSKY: Curse their old families. I’ll sweep these Peytons from Louisiana
and fair or foul I’ll have the Octoroon!
(MUSIC: SWELLS TO QUICK FINISH.)
MANTLE: And now—Dion Boucicault’s great melodrama of 1859. The
VOICE: Life in Louisiana!
(MUSIC: FAST NEGRO MELODY, FADES UNDER DIALOGUE.)
(ibid 73-34 notated to The Octoroon, from the Great Plays series. Adaptation by Joseph Bell. NBC sustaining)
Quotation from Barnouw 1940 Criminal Case Histories introduction.
Analysis engaged page 98, paragraph 4:
NELSON CASE: Tonight, Warden Lawes tells the story of case history No. 581-
VOICE: I’m in the death house. But I didn’t do it. I swear I didn’t. I
don’t care if it was my gun. I’m innocent. I never shot that tax
collector. I’m innocent—
I swear I didn’t do it. (FADING)
NELSON CASE: I suppose all condemned men say that. Warden Lawes.
WARDEN LAWES: Some do—and some don’t! Sometimes of course we know
they’re lying—and sometimes we’re not sure.
Poem- From Antwerp by Ford Maddox Ford (1873 – 1939)
Analysis engaged page 99 paragraph 4:
This is Charing Cross;
It is midnight;
There is a great crowd
And no light.
A great crowd, all black that hardly whispers aloud.
Surely, that is a dead woman – a dead mother!
She has a dead face;
She is dressed all in black’
She wanders to the bookstall and back,
At the back of the crowd;
And back again and again back,
She sways and wanders.
Memorials To The Missing by Stephen Wyatt.
Analysis engage page 100, paragraphs 3 to 6, and page 101, paragraph 1:
‘tiny battered relics scooped from the mud’ (Wyatt 2008:20).
(THE FEET STOP)
WARE: These are some of the things which have been retrieved from the
(A CLINK OF METAL)
WARE: A compass for instance. It survived the shells which reduced its
poor owner to pulp.
ONE: (SOFTLY) That’s my compass.
WARE: Not much damage. Can you make out the initials? You’ve
younger eyes than mine. Looks like it could be C.E.S.
NURSE: No, C.E.B. I think
ONE: My dad’s initials.
NURSE: Well, it’s a start, I suppose.
Direct quotations from Sorry, Wrong Number by Lucille Fletcher (1912 – 2000).
Analysis engaged page 101, paragraphs 2 to 7, and page 102, paragraph 1:
SFX: PHONE DIALING NOISES BEGINS
SFX: Clicking telephone. Buzzing three times.
AGNES: Oh dear. (Sighs)
SFX: MORE DIALING NOISES
OPERATOR: Your call please?
AGNES: Operator, I’ve been dialing Murray Hill 7-0093 now for the last three quarters of an hour and the line is always busy. I don’t see how it could be busy that long. Will you try it for me please?
OPERATOR: (FILTER) I’ll be glad to try that number for you. One moment, please.
SFX: CLICKING AS OPERATOR DIALS THE TELEPHONE.
AGNES: I don’t see how it could be busy all this time. It’s my husband’s office. He’s working late tonight, and I’m all alone here in the house. My health is very poor and I’ve been feeling so nervous all day…
OPERATOR: Ringing Murray Hill 7-0093…
SFX: (FILTER) PHONE RINGING
MAN: (FILTER) Hello?
AGNES: Hello, oh Hello? is Mr. Stevenson there?
MAN: (FILTER) Hello? Hello?
MAN: Oh Hello, George?
GEORGE: (FILTER) Yes sir, this is George speaking.
AGNES: Hello, who’s this? What number am I calling please?
MAN: I’m here with our client now…He says the coast is clear for tonight.
GEORGE: Yes, sir.
MAN: Where are you now?
GEORGE: In a phone booth. Don’t worry, everything’s ok…
MAN: Very well, you know the address…At eleven o’clock the private patrolman goes around the bar on 2nd Avenue for a beer. Be sure that all the lights downstairs are out. Eh? There should be only one light visible from the street. At 11:15, a train crosses the bridge. It makes a noise in case a window is open and she should scream.
AGNES: Oh hello! What number is this, please…
GEORGE: OK, I understand…
MAN: And make it quick…as little blood as possible eh? Our client does not wish to make her suffer long…
GEORGE: Would a knife be ok sir?
MAN: Ahh. A knife would be ok. And do you remember the other details?
GEORGE: Yeah, yeah, I know. Remove the rings and bracelets and the jewellery in the bureau drawer.
MAN: That’s right. Our client wishes it to look like simple robbery.
GEORGE: Don’t worry, everything is gonna be ok.
MAN: Alright then. Be sure to..
SFX: BUZZING SOUND AS PHONE DISCONNECTS.
AGNES: (STAGE WHISPER) Oh! Oh! How awful!
SFX: PHONE DIALING
AGNES: How unspeakably awful!…Oh.
OPERATOR: Your call, please…
AGNES: Operator! I… I..I’ve just been cut off…
OPERATOR: I’m sorry. What number were you calling?
AGNES: Why it was supposed to be Murray Hill 7-0093, but it wasn’t. Some wires must have got crossed. I was cut into a wrong number — and I — I’ve just heard the most dreadful thing — something about a — murder — and – Operator, you’ll simply have to retrace that call at once …
OPERATOR: I beg your pardon? May I help you?
AGNES: I know it was a wrong number and I had no business listening — but these two men — they were cold-blooded fiends — and they are going to murder somebody — some poor, innocent woman who was all alone — in a house near a bridge… And we’ve got to stop them — we’ve just got to …
OPERATOR: (FRUSTRATED) What number were you calling please?
AGNES: That doesn’t matter. This was a wrong number and you dialled it for me. And we’ve got to find out what it was — immediately.
OPERATOR: What number did you call?
AGNES: Oh, why are you so stupid?… What time is it? Do you mean to tell me that you can’t find out what that number was just now?
The War of the Worlds CBS 1938, adaptation by Howard Koch (1901 – 1995).
Analysis engaged page 102, paragraph 3:
‘We know now that in the early years of the twentieth century this world was being watched closely by intelligences greater than man’s, and yet as mortal as his own…’ (Koch 1971:33)
Analysis engaged page 102, paragraph 3:
In the thirty-ninth year of the twentieth century came the great disillusionment. It was near the end of October. Business was better. The war scare was over. More men were back at work. Sales were picking up. On this particular evening, October 30th, the Crosley service estimated that thirty-two million people were listening in on radios.
Analysis engaged page 103, paragraph 1:
‘I am standing in a large semi-circular room, pitch black except for an oblong split in the ceiling. Through this opening I can see a sprinkling of stars that cast a kind of frosty glow over the intricate mechanism of the huge telescope. The ticking sound you hear is the vibration of the clockwork’ (Koch 1971:38-9).
Analysis engaged page 103, paragraph 2
‘Well, I… hardly know where to begin, to paint for you a word picture of the strange scene before my eyes, like something out of a modern “Arabian Nights”’ (ibid 43).
Analysis engaged page 103, paragraph 2 & 3:
This is the most extraordinary experience, ladies and gentlemen. I can’t find words… I’ll pull this microphone with me as I talk. I’ll have to stop the description until I can take a new position. Hold on, will you please, I’ll be right back in a minute…
(FADE INTO PIANO)
We are bringing you an eyewitness account of what’s happening on the Wilmuth farm, Grovers Mill, New Jersey.
We now return you to Carl Phillips at Grovers Mill.
Ladies and gent… Am I on? Ladies and gentlemen, ladies and gentlemen, here I am, back of a stone wall that adjoins Mr. Wilmuth’s garden. From here I get a sweep of the whole scene. I’ll give you every detail as long as I can talk and as long as I can see.
Analysis engaged page 103, paragraph 4:
(SCREAMS AND UNEARTHLY SHRIEKS)
Good heavens, something’s wriggling out of the shadow like a gray snake. Now it’s
another one, and another one, and another one! They look like tentacles to me. I can
see the thing’s body now. It’s large, large as a bear and it glistens like wet leather. But
that face, it… Ladies and gentlemen, it’s indescribable. I can hardly force myself to
keep looking at it, so awful. The eyes are black and gleam like a serpent. The mouth is
V-shaped with saliva dripping from its rimless lips that seem to quiver and pulsate.
The monster or whatever it is can hardly move.
A humped shape is rising out of the pit. I can make out a small beam of light against a
mirror. What’s that? There’s a jet of flame springing from that mirror, and it leaps right
at the advancing men. It strikes them head on! Good Lord, they’re turning into flame!
Now the whole field’s caught fire.
The woods… the barns… the gas tanks of automobiles… it’s spreading everywhere. It’s coming this way. About twenty yards to my right…
(ABRUPT DEAD SILENCE) [3 SECONDS]
Ladies and gentlemen, due to circumstances beyond our control, we are unable to continue the broadcast from Grovers Mill. Evidently there’s some difficulty with our field transmission. However, we will return to that point at the earliest opportunity.
Analysis engaged page 104, paragraph 2:
Well, were you frightened, Mr. Wilmuth?
Well, I — I ain’t quite sure. I reckon I — I was kinda riled.
Thank you, Mr. Wilmuth. Thank you very much.
Want me to tell you some more?
No… That’s quite all right, that’s plenty.
The Heart of George Cotton, The Trumpet Talks, Anatomy of an Ordinance, and The Ballad of Satchel Paige by Richard Durham (1917 – 1984).
Analysis engaged page 105, paragraphs 2 & 3:
HEART: I am the human heart (pause for the beat).
(SOUND: Begin the beating of a human heart, slightly faster than normal)
(MUSIC: Drums emphasize and deepen the beat. Organ pulses in rhythm. Establish well, then hold sound and drums under following)
HEART: I am the spirit’s rhythm.
HEART: I am a hollow bag the size of your fist. I live in a cavity between two lungs. I am the timekeeper of human life: fair; impartial; equal to Turk or Tartar, Roman, Greek, Ethiop, Hebrew. I am old: I circulated blood for Cromagnons, Neanderthals, Rhodesians, and if in men I have been the lion and the lamb, the love and the hate—if in men the good is often interred with their bones, so let it be with my blood. (Quieter) So let it be in my story of the men who mastered me, who learned the laws of my veins and lobes, arteries and auricles, who timed my twisting to planet precision, who fought to heal me whenever I was ripped and split (slow up the heart) outstretched on a table in the breast of a dying man—
(SOUND: Up full with the heartbeat, slower than normal and ponderous. Establish and take down under following, and hold sound in background)
PATIENT: (On filter. Labored breathing) Doctor! That’s my heart beating. Like a drum in my ears—it’s loud, so loud! Can’t you hear it?
Analysis engaged page 105, paragraphs 4 & 5 and page 106, paragraph 1:
(RECORD: Open with trumpet prologue of Armstrong’s “West End Blues”)
TRUMPET: (Sanguine and a guy who has been in high and low places. Modest but knows his power. Worldly and mellow) That trumpet. That’s me he’s blowing. I’m Trumpet. Look at me: curved brass cylinder with a cup-shaped mouth. Three valves and a thousand notes. But the angel Gabriel touched his lips to my mouth and called home the quick and the dead. The Romans blew me when the earth was their empire. I’ve blown taps for the Caesars and the Napoleons. My voice has been heart in high and low places. But—until the “kid” blew me, I never knew what scales I could climb (record out)—He gave me tones I never knew were my own. He gave me a voice that was free and strong—so that his own could be—free and strong.
Analysis engaged page 106, paragraphs 2 & 3:
SLUMS: Good morning. How do you do? I’m happy and healthy I hope. Jammed six families in a run-down flat, dark stairways, roof coming down, streets dirty, rents sky high, sickness all around you. Segregated in my area I hope. Me? My name is Slums. You’ve seen me around. Slums are the cemeteries of the living, he says. Jim Crow’s the undertaker, he says. He’s the one I want to tell you about, this very Reverend, this windy city Alderman. He says I got to go. Stick around. Let me give you the lowdown on a guy who’s trying to run Slums out of town.
(Durham 5 June 1949)
Analysis engaged page 106, paragraphs 4 & 5, and page 107, paragraph 1:
(GUITAR MUSIC fade up)
BALLADEER: Nobody knows when he first played on a baseball field,
Some say he put out Caesar when Judas tried to steal,
Some say he learned about curves watching Anthony’s Cleopatra,
But there ain’t no truth in the story that Methuselah was his catcher.
Ooooh Satchel. Ooooh Satchel Paige,
Nobody dared to bother about his age.
Because he was the best pitcher that the good Lord ever made.
(Durham 15 May 1949)
The Wasted Years by Caryl Phillips.
Analysis engaged page 107, paragraphs 2 & 3:
Noise coming from a classroom as the bell has just gone for the end of the day.
TEALE. I said quietly, 5C. This isn’t Saturday afternoon down at the match, it’s a school, and Deakin put that chair back where it belongs.
Sound of the kids jeering.
Shut up, all of you. I said put it back Deakin and put it back now.
SOLLY. He don’t have to do it, for it’s the end of school.
TAGGER. Well I wouldn’t do it, I can tell you that much.
TEALE. What was that, Daniels?
TEALE. Don’t ‘nothing’ me, lad, I’m a bit longer in the tooth than you.
TAGGER (giggles and whispers). A bit what?
TEALE. Tagley, shut your stupid mouth, boy.
TEALE. Daniels. I’m still waiting.
Lifetime by Nigel D Moffatt.
Analysis engaged page 107, paragraph 4, page 108, paragraphs 1 & 2:
ARCHIE. Me have a lifetime of it! Lord! What a woman. Everything me do she a watch me. If she get up before me in the morning … she can’t stand to know that me getting an extra hour and she on the staircase a hoover. If me shoulda get up before har; have me wash and dress meself; look in the mirror to comb me hair – whose eye me can feel burnin’ out me backbone? She, yes. She think because she hidin’under the covers pretendin’ to be asleep me don’t know say she a watch me … but me know.
She never miss a thing, make me tell you that. If me get up to go to the toilet, ‘Where you goin’? Where you goin’?’. And me can’t stay up there too long, either, me friend. ‘What you a do up there for so long, you don’t know you tea getting’ cold.’
Some man go a toilet and stay up there for a hour …Me! Me don’t even get time to wipe me arse.
Hurricane Dub by Benjamin Zephaniah.
Analysis engaged page 108, paragraphs 3 to 6, page 109, paragraph 1 & 2:
First we hear a sound track of the wind, slow at first, then faster and louder, but to a definite rhythm. This then turns into music with the wind still holding the basic rhythm. The music then fades still leaving the wind, which runs throughout the play. Occasional sounds include tin cans blowing, bottles falling, dustbins crashing and cats crying. Maxine and Samuel are tucked up in bed. Maxine’s voice is heard, in time to the wind.
MAXINE. Laard. Oh Laard.
Me can’t get to sleep and me count so much sheep,
And me want to sleep, doctor say me must sleep,
Me count so much sheep and me pray de Lord
My soul to keep
And me still can’t sleep!
I don’t want tek no sleeping tablet,
I don’t want drug up me head
And it tek so much energy to reach de bathroom
I just don’t want leave me bed,
But I might toss and turn for hours and hours
And dat is not what I need,
Maybe I should get me Bible
And sit for a while and read.
Me can’t get to sleep and me count so much sheep
And me want to sleep, lord, me want to sleep.
SAMUEL. Shut up yu noise nuh, please shut yu mouth.
And move yu damn cold feet, mek me get some sleep.
MAXINE. But listen to de breeze, listen to de wind,
I get so restless from de wind begin.
It seems to go over there and come round here.
Creating a noisy atmosphere.
SAMUEL. Yu know yu right. Breeze blowin’ hard tonight.
MAXINE. Well I glad dat you agree.
SAMUEL. It sound wild. Could give a weak heart a fright.
MAXINE. Well it keep on boddering me.
The Undecided Molecule by Norman Corwin (1911 – 2011)
Analysis engaged page 109, paragraphs 3 to 7, page 110, paragraphs 1 & 2:
ANNOUNCER. Lucky you ! You have happened to dial
This program in time to attend a trial
Stranger than any since we first learned the
Of breathing—and that was a long time back.
The poor folks listening to other stations
Will lose all this. But congratulations
To you for being no such fool
As to miss The Undecided Molecule!
Music: An upsurge, and down behind:
ANNOUNCER. (Opening announcement, credits etc)
Music: An important fanfare, on long, thin horns, announcing an event of importance to the inner cosmos.
CLERK. Hear ye, hear ye !
The Court of Arbitrations and adjudi-
cations of Physiochemical Rela-
tions, Department of the Interior
of the Atom, Criminal Sitting,
Division of Investigation, Charge,
Countercharge, Accusation, and
Is now in session.
Music: Another fanfare.
CLERK. The court will rise and face
The justice who will adjust this case
See that your concentration centers
On His Honour the Justice just as he
Which he is doing even now.
Everybody bow. Everybody bow.
JUDGE (Coming on).
Arrumph … garrump … ahem
… to wit …
Contrary notwithstanding … you
Sound of a court sitting.
JUDGE. Clerk, read the charge.
CLERK. May it please the court, et al., to wit—
JUDGE. It pleases the court. Get on with it.
Who’s versus whom?
CLERK. The Cosmos and all the spheres, sys-
tems, clusters, galaxies, orbits,
planets, satellites, together with
all species of animals, vegetables,
of all conditions of age, social
standing, and sex
The anonymous molecule hereinafter
referred to as X
JUDGE. Mm. What’s the charge against said
CLERK. Unwilling to be named.
Rebelling when defined.
Declining to be blamed,
Objecting when assigned,
Protesting when selected,
Resisting an attack,
Refusing to be directed,
And talking back.
The Battle of the Warsaw Ghetto by Morten Wishengrad (1913 – 1963).
Analysis engaged page 111, paragraph 6, page 112, paragraphs 1 to 6, and 113, paragraphs 1 & 2:
[Cantor: “El Mole Rachamim,” unaccompanied—20-30 seconds, and fade under following]
VOICE [In close softly] It is a prayer for the dead … “El Mole Rachamim,” Hear him with reverence, for it is no ordinary prayer and they are not the ordinary dead. They are the dead of the Warsaw Ghetto—the scapegoats of the centuries. Once the priest robed himself in linen and stood on Sinai in a convocation of Israel; and they brought unto him a live goat, chosen by Lot. And he laid his hands on the goat’s head and confessed over it the iniquities of the people. And he released the goat, and its name was Azazel, scapegoat; and it fled into the wilderness. But for them in the Ghetto of Warsaw there was no release …there was only the abyss. In the Ghetto thirty-five thousand stood their ground against an army of the Third Reich—and twenty five thousand fell. They sleep in their common graves but they have vindicated their birthright. Therefore, let him sing and hear him with reverence for they have made an offering by fire and an atonement unto the Lord and they have earned their sleep.
[Cantor: Up and finish]
[Music: Establish theme almost as a segue and then fade under following]
NARRATOR [Simply]. My name was Isaac Davidson and I lived in the Polish city of Lublin with my wife, Dvora, and Samuel, our son. When Poland fell, they herded us into a cattle car and transported us to the Ghetto of Warsaw. It was a place in purgatory and around the purgatory they had built a brick wall and around the brick wall another wall of barbed wire and beyond the barbed wire stood a third wall of soldiers armed with bayonets.
[Fade in shuffling of feet and hold under]
NAZI 1. All right there, move on. Next, next, next. Lively.
[Shuffling of feet]
NAZI 2. Your name?
NARRATOR. Isaac Davidson.
NAZI 2. Who are they?
NARRATOR. Dvora Davidson, Samuel Davidson. My wife, my son.
NAZI 2. [Stamping three cards in rapid succession]. Three blue cards. Get along. Next, next, next, move on. Pick up your feet. There’s no funeral.
[Shuffling of feet up and take out….]
[Music: Fade narrative theme under]
NARRATOR. Three blue cards stamped with the letter J. Bread cards. Each card …a pound of bread a week. As precious as life. Dvora held the cards in her hand and we went to the tenement in the Twarda District…
To the place where we were to live.
Companion Websie Resources Chapter 5 Page 113
- Additions and Updates for Chapter 5 Beginning the Sound Story
- Norman Corwin and Radio Drama
- Anthony Minghella and Radio Drama
- The Radio Plays of Lucille Fletcher
- Richard Durham and Radio Drama
- The Radio Plays of Caryl Phillips
- The Radio Plays of Susan Hill
- The Radio Plays by Angela Carter
- Radio Drama and Representation of the Holocaust and Final Solution