Hassberry Theatre Company was founded by me in 2003 to rescue radio drama from OTR and the old-man-on-mic-with-coconuts-as-horses syndrome. Our ears have developed and so have our tastes. I loved listening to OTR and all but re-creating that style in the new millenium is similar to re-creating Howard Hawks style movies in 2007.
In 2004, HTC was invited by Irwin Gonshak, the man who gave yours truly his break on radio, to produce over 40 short radio dramas for the 2005 Big Apple Short Radio Drama Festival on WNYE FM 91.5, in conjunction with Writers Guild of America, East and Teachers & Writers Collaborative. I’ll never forget Irwin’s reply after I’d cold-emailed him about the possibility of airing original radio drama: “If you can produce new works, I’ll air them”. Shortly after, ‘Cubicle Conspiracy’ and ‘Fragile’, two 10-minute plays of mine, aired on Irwin’s ‘Everything Goes?’ program. ‘EG?’ is still giving writers, singers, historians, educators etc. a shot to read/present their work over the air.
Thanks to folks at WGAE – Sindy Gordon, Ann Toback, Susan De Carava – who posted ads on the WGAE bulletins, posted more with affiliates in other countries, received scripts from writers around the globe and mailed a package every week. Their support, I’ll never forget. WGAE was also kind enough to post the entire festival on their website, still being streamed. Actors traveled way out to Brooklyn College from Manhattan to participate for nothing. I thank them. Brooklyn College Radio, with lots of support from my professors, opened their studio doors for me – I even had a personal key for 24/7 access – so I could record and edit the plays. I didn’t have a decent computer at home, so every morning, 6am, I’d commute an hour and a half to BC to start early before the students had to come in for their work. Sometimes I stayed till 2 AM. Not recommended since the train ride is a bitch during that hour.
I was editing on SawPro software and had no background in editing. My friend, Miguel Macias, who recorded and edited my first two plays, ‘Cubicle’ and ‘Fragile’, gave me a crash course on how to import, edit, and export media in a 2-hour session. The rest I had to figure out the hard way. Sometimes I’d mic someone badly and spend hours ‘fixing’ voice. Sometimes, I’d lose a couple of hours of work because of bad calls. Sometimes I’d spend hours on a few minutes of sound design because they didn’t quite have the atmosphere. One time I spent an hour trying to get the right ‘telephone voice,’ not knowing I could do that easily with a filter in post. The department had a collection of 15 SFX discs. I had to create new sounds out of many layered ones, or do Foley myself…from simple ones like breathing, scratching, pen scribbling on paper, knock on a glass door to a little more complex such as the sound of a tape recorder rewinding and clicking; that I fused car seat belt clicking with a motor sound sped up and EQ’d. Playing-by-ear never had a better example. I learned on the job, you could say, but I’m glad I did it that way. Everything learned during that time I applied later to my film work. It’s all connected, trust me.
Anyway. 3 years have passed since I written and produced anything new. That’s gonna change this year. But I had one avenue to explore – podcasting. Thought selected radio plays from the short drama festival could work for a podcast. And no place better comes to mind than uploading them on iTunes. I hope you can look past the little mistakes and enjoy the plays.
Stay tuned for new plays coming in August.