What’s The Trend:
Audio dramas, also known as audio theater or audio fiction, are acoustic performances that rely on dialogue, music and sound to convey a story to the listener.(1)
Audio dramas can take many forms, whether a series, short story, longer production or an adaptation of another art form. Formerly known as radio dramas, the idea of telling a story through only sound has existed since the 1920s, when these productions were broadcasted over the radio and reached widespread popularity in the 1940s. They subsequently fell in popularity after the 1960s with the invention of the television. From the 2000s to the present, radio dramas have experienced a revival with the increase in internet functions and speed. Now more appropriately referred to as audio dramas, these “mind movies” have experienced resurgence with the invention of the podcast and ease at which audio dramas can be downloaded.(2)
Arthur Yorinks, a writer and director of many theatrical productions, describes this trend in audio dramas in terms of how society listens and consumes their media. After the TV was invented, the pace of life quickened and people were able to multi-task; they didn’t have time to sit and listen to a production on the radio. Now in the 2000s, technology has spurred another “renaissance of listening.” The pace of life has quickened again and people are constantly on the move; running, walking, flying, training, commuting etc. With the increase in popularity of the iPod and other portable audio methods, society can listen again while they are in transit places.(3)
Audio dramas are not simply people reading a script – actors are moving around and sounds are being produced to deeply relay the story to the listener. In the old forms of radio dramas, materials as simple as coconut shells and a mashed up pile of tape could be used to convey the sound of hooves on a stable floor.(4)Now production companies are able to utilize new technologies of the 21st century to create better immersive sound designs and enhance the listening experience. Big Finish Productions is a British company that produces audio dramas. One of its most famed audio productions is “Doctor Who” for which the company currently produces an audio adventure monthly. The company also does adaptations of novels. In September 2014, Big Finish released its version of Simon Clark’s novel, “The Night of the Triffids.”(5)
Why It Matters:
Countless statistics have shown that Hispanics far over-index in technology, and 72% of Hispanics over the age of 18 own at least one smartphone device.(6) As various media programs continue to expand across new platforms, audio dramas are poised to take advantage of this space, and Hispanics will be able to consume this form of media as they are early adapters of technology…and have a natural affinity for drama, as seen by the popularity of the novela format. Also, the evolution of radio drama into audio drama invites a new wave of “writers, directors, actors, lighting designers, sound designers, engineers, computer enthusiasts and gadget lovers,” to come together and discover what can be possible with this medium now.(7)
- (2014). FinalRune Productions. http://www.finalrune.com/.
- Newman, Barry. (2010, February). “Return With Us to the Thrilling Days Of Yesteryear—Via the Internet.” The Wall Street Journal. http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052748704240004575085313479028540.
- Yorinks, Arthur. (2010, June). “A New Theater of Sound.” The Greene Space. http://media.wnyc.org/media/resources/2010/Jun/18/GREENESPACEFINAL1.29.09.pdf.
- “90 years of acting on the radio.” (2013, February). BBC News & Entertainment. http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-21462926.
- (2014). Big Finish Productions. http://www.bigfinish.com/whats_new/month/09/2014.
- Elder, Jeff. (2014, February). “Latinos Lead U.S. Smartphone Use.” WSJ Digits. http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2014/02/10/latinos-lead-u-s-smartphone-use/.
- Yorinks, Arthur. (2010, June). “A New Theater of Sound.” The Greene Space. http://media.wnyc.org/media/resources/2010/Jun/18/GREENESPACEFINAL1.29.09.pd