LU radio drama in the 21st century

Deas, Kathryn

For the past three years, Professor Timothy X. Troy has recorded vintage radio dramas with a live audience in the Cloak Theatre. Last week, however, Cloak remained empty during the annual recording session. This is due to a grant from the dean of faculty for Professor Troy to purchase professional grade sound equipment-equipment that does not exactly come with a user-friendly manual.”We took a break from the live recordings this year so that I could learn how to run the equipment,” says Troy from his office, where the sound studio resides. “I recorded all the actors last week, and it will probably take me until the end of the term to put in sound effects and get the sound quality right.”

This year’s dramas are from a science fiction series from the late ’40s entitled “X-Minus 1,” which had major contributors such as Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov.

The first sci-fi drama, “Pail of Air,” takes place in an apocalyptic future where the sun loses its energy and the atmosphere liquefies into an ocean. In order to stay alive, a family takes a pail to the surface, dips it into the liquefied atmosphere, and takes it to their home to let it evaporate. They live alone for 15 years until a group from Los Alamos finds them while searching for survivors.

The plot in “Surface Tension” also revolves around the sun, which is slowly having its gasses consumed by a nearby black hole. With only two weeks for the earth to sustain life, and in a final attempt to understand evolution, scientists create micro-humans to live in droplets of water. Millions of years condense into these few days, until the micro-humans become advanced enough to travel out of their universe. They cannot live outside of their droplet, however, so they must find a way to break the surface tension.

“I just couldn’t resist ‘Nightfall’ because of its connection to Lawrence,” says Troy of the third drama, which depicts four suns revolving around a single planet. The only time that darkness falls on the civilization is when all the suns align in eclipse every few thousand years. The society, which cannot bear the dark, suddenly suffers an eclipse and its citizens go mad with doomsday fear. In their frenzy, they destroy their own civilization, burning everything and shouting, “Light! More Light!”

Although the vintage dramas are relatively new to Lawrence, they have drawn attention from a dozen campuses inquiring about their productions, as well as from one historical society doing a documentary on topics covered in a history drama from a previous year.

The dramas will be broadcast over WLFM and Wisconsin Public Radio in June.