Friday, October 14, 2011

Seanchai Library brings War of the Worlds to Second Life

The family gathered around the radio ....

It's October 30, 1938 and you and your family have gathered around the radio to listen to the Mercury Theatre on the Air because that's what families did.  There was no television or internet.  You'd listened to your old lp's over and over but the radio was better.  It was exciting and most everyone was doing the same thing.

Suddenly a news bulletin interrupted the broadcast and you listened in shock as the newsman described explosions on Mars.  Then, a little later, you heard that something had landed in Grover's Mill, New Jersey.  What followed was horrific.  Reporters risked their very lives to cover the story of the century - aliens had landed in the United States and the military was fighting back.

Zain Ruins (moderate)

It wasn't true of course.  It was a radio play adapted from H.G Wells' novel The War of the Worlds.  Orson Welles made his name with this broadcast and angered a lot of folks.  You see there were no commercials in the show - the "news bulletins" seemed very real to a lot of people reading newspaper stories talking about war preparations in Europe and already anxious and afraid.

Many woke up the next morning expecting to find the common and familiar gone or at least badly damaged.  Little grey men were expected at the door any minute.

It's hard to imagine today, with our myriad of information sources and instant access, but many were fooled into believing the play was reality.

Zain Ruins (moderate)

Fast forward to the present and the Seanchai Library has received permission to use the original radio play as the script for a special story telling this October 22, 23 and 26.  "All Seanchai presentations are read live in voice.  All the performers are volunteers and donations are accepted to support established charities around the world.  In 2011 these have included Habitat for Humanities, The American Heart Association, Project Children, The American Red Cross (Tsunami & Pacific Earthquake Relief), Water for People, Heifer International, and Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Seanchai's War of the Worlds features the voices of Shandon Loring, Bear Silvershade and Kayden O’Connell. Add in the voices of Elder Priestman, Caledonia Skytower, BigRed Coyote and others and this production promises to be a treat for the ears."

It's no more possible or plausible today than it was back then of course.  Although I did stumble on something  strange as we cleaned up the playa this afternoon.

I'm sure it's nothing .....

I'm telling you all this now so you'll plan your time wisely and make it to one of the readings.  Make a note in your calendar - that's correct, I want you to write it down.

Saturday October 22 a 5 p.m. performance at Blood Evolution Kingdom
Sunday October 23 at noon on Haunted Fruit Islands
Wednesday October 26 at 7 Seanchai Library

I plan to attend at least one of the performances and I'll be imagining people all over the grid huddled around their radios.  Just like families used to do. :)

He wasn't there when I took this photo .....


Em said...

hi -- My father was listening at the time of the original broadcast and he claimed he was well aware he was listening to a story. He told me it was introduced as such and that during the broadcast several announcements were made to the effect that the program was a work of fiction based on a story by HG Wells. The amazing this is that people refused to believe that and were convinced it was reality.

Honour McMillan said...

They did - they also dated all the bulletins 1939 to help indicate it wasn't really happening.

People like to believe the worst I guess. :)

Anonymous said...

Great idea, the main show had only a few reminders about it being fiction and if you turned in late it was easy to think it was real.
Very well done radio play.
I listened to it from a hidden mp3 player in a 1930s radio in my 1930s decorated house while wearing 1930s clothes... it is just my lifestyle.
Without a tv in my home radio means a lot more to me then most so the experience for me was rather exciting and a bit scary.
And I knew it was fake!

Would be nice to build a 1930s livingroom with a 1930s radio and with the original recording of this playing on a 24 hour loop.
Maybe I will do that :)

Honour McMillan said...

@1920s What a great story - thank you for sharing that :) I'll be thinking of you and the others listening on hidden mp3 players when I attend. *grin*