When you mix the new with the nostalgic magical things can happen.
Long ago, long before Pokemon GO and Twitter, there were far fewer venues for entertainment. Really, up until the invention of the radio in 1894, if you wanted entertainment you had to leave the house. Yeah, that meant putting on shoes and hitching up your horses (and stockings), but it also made entertainment more of a community experience. Even when radio came along, the community aspect endured as families would sit around at specific times and listen to their ‘stories’.
Nowadays we have a million options for entertainment and we’re all watching something different. We’ve certainly gained variety, but we’ve sacrificed some aspects of our consumption as well. I would argue that one of those sacrifices is imagination. We like our movies big and loud and our novels 2,000 pages. It’s a different world from when families would sit around the radio listening to their ‘stories’ and filling in the blanks with their minds.
What can be fun these days is when one of our million options takes on a recipe unlike something we’ve seen before. When you mix the new with the nostalgic magical things can happen.
Brave New Productions has been experimenting with such recipes with two new, original radio plays. Written to make use of only your ears, both “Dating In The Dark” and “Blindsided” are already available through nearly every digital streaming store. We may not be able to sit around the radio anymore, but we can close our eyes and let our imagination slip into a story that is truly different, surprising and fun.
Ivy Johnson is the author of “Blindsided”, an old-fashioned whodunit, directed by old friend, and company artistic director, Emma McQueen. Writing a story that can only be conveyed orally presents a unique set of challenges, below is my interview with Ivy about what it was like to work on “Blindsided”.
Where did the concept for “Blindsided” come from?
IVY: My original idea was that I wanted to do a play where the audience couldn’t see anything, and neither could the main character. I wanted my main character to be sightless so that he could guide the audience through this dark world, because I think we’re not really used to listening to stories in the same way they were back in the golden age of radio. And I sort of liked the gimmick that the audience and the main character were both dealing with the same challenge together. Once I had this idea, the concept of a blind witness was a natural! A radio show without murder is not a proper radio show, in my book, and I thought this would be a great way to draw on all the interesting possibilities of the medium.
What inspired you to write a radio play?
IVY: I love radio plays, and I’ve always thought it would be fun to write one myself. Originally, I thought that Blindsided would be performed as a play, and that the audience members would be blindfolded. All of the special effects would be performed onstage, just like they did it in the golden age of radio, with hammers hitting watermelons and so on.
What are some of the inspirations you drew upon to write this radio play?
One of my favourite radio plays ever is Sorry Wrong Number, by Louise Fletcher. I think that part of what works about that story is that the protagonist is the detective, but she’s also very vulnerable, and starts to find herself in danger that she can’t escape. I borrowed a bit of that for this story, and mixed in a dash of the Daphne Du Maurier story The Blue Lenses, which I’ve always found extremely creepy and delightful.
What are you up to now? Where can we find more of your work?
I’m happy to be back in Toronto, after spending some time in Halifax writing for This Hour Has 22 Minutes. I’ve been writing for The Beaverton and CBC Comedy, and am currently developing both a sci-fi web series and a half-hour kids’ show. And I’ve added bridge to my collection of anachronistic hobbies!
Both “Blindsided” and “Dating In The Dark” are now available via Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Google Play and more. Just search “BNP” on your favourite music service or visist http://www.bravenewproductions.com for more information!