College of DuPage College Theater to put on 'War of the Worlds: The Panic Broadcast' April 15 to 25
On April 15-25, College of DuPage College Theater presents "The War of the Worlds: The Panic Broadcast," based on the classic Orson Welles 1938 radio broadcast.
Virtual performances are 7 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 3 p.m. on Sundays. The production has been auditioned, rehearsed and produced virtually via Zoom.
Directed by COD College Theater Professor Amelia Barrett, the production celebrates the 80th anniversary of Orson Welles' 1938 radio adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel, "The War of the Worlds."
Welles' historic broadcast threw humanity into chaos when everyone thought extraterrestrials landed on earth. The radio drama vividly described the unfolding events with such realism it permanently altered broadcast radio.
Adapted by Joe Landry, the College Theater's production retells the story of this infamous evening. Live foley sound effects, music and vintage commercials will bring to life the story behind the broadcast.
This radio-play-within-a-radio-play is a homage to the medium's golden age and a timely reminder of what fear can do to a society, Barrett said.
"As we pass the year anniversary of the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are reminded how our collective lives were transformed into a state of fear, similar to how Americans were feeling during the events of the 1930's, including The Great Depression, the Hindenburg disaster, the threat of war and a devastating hurricane," she said.
"All traces of normal life were alchemized into a memory. Our political life has been fraught with conflict and social justice has suddenly drawn a laser-like focus," Barrett said. "For many of us, our isolation has accompanied channel surfing, gathering news snippets from radio, social media and stolen conversations. It's understandable how we could tune into the middle of an hour-long drama or conversation which might leave some believing that the country was under attack without hearing the context of the story or ability to see a larger point of view."
With nine actors performing dozens of roles, each actor received a technology package to create a remote studio which included a green screen to turn their virtual background into a remote radio studio, a microphone, camera and adjustable lighting.
Students also were given a variety of vintage props. Jumping back and forth from 1948 to 1938, students will utilize sepia and full color Zoom filters to differentiate time periods.
Tickets are $16 per household at www.atthemac.org/events/war-of-the-worlds-the-panic-broadcast/.
A post-show discussion will take place after the April 15 performance on Zoom with Barrett, the actors, designers and production team. Visit the event page for the link.
Cast members include Alice Axt-Pilon (Naperville), Ryan Castiglia (West Chicago), Amy Infanger (West Chicago), Brandon Luna (Carol Stream), Tiana Maravilla (Warrenville), Joshua Smith (Naperville), Madeline Stone (Bartlett), Alexander Wasnick (Naperville) and Carolyn Wissmiller (Wheaton).
Support for College Theater is made possible by a generous gift from the College of DuPage Foundation's Dr. Donald and Helen (Gum) Westlake Fund for Student Productions.
Offering an Associate in Arts degree, the College Theater department offers a variety of courses including Acting, Acting for the Camera, Audition, Combat, Dance Theatre, Directing, Improvisation, Improvisation for Case Studies, Stagecraft, Stage Management, Stage Movement, Stage Make-up, Technical Production, Theater Appreciation and Voice Over Acting.
For more information and upcoming auditions, visit College Theater at www.atthemac.org/college-theater/.