Love Me: The World’s Most Complex Emotion in Podcast Form

The upcoming podcast, “Love Me” from the CBC, is both heartbreaking and filled with such raw, powerful emotions that you can’t help but get a lump in your throat.

Part anecdotal and part audio drama, “Love Me” is what you get when you cross NPR’s “Serial” with audio drama of the 21st century. The shows format is straight forward. Real people reading of their own accounts of what love is to them. Love in this context is broader than the definition most people think of when discussing the complex emotion. It includes things like friendships and the struggle of long distance relationships, across both oceans and languages.

The audio dramas come in at the second half of the episode. The first two range from computer-voiced characters who have a falling out and a game show where the contestant is matched against their own id, ego and super ego. Both are humorous, but the real power lies in the first half. Hearing someone about to break down in tears for a friend they clearly care about is heartbreaking and will hit close to home for a lot of people. For those asking about audio dramas like “The Truth” and other similarly toned podcasts, these are a good couple of episodes and a great start to a series.

More Information

The show is produced by Mira Burt-Wintonick and Cristal Duhaime and is premiering its first episode on Monday June 13, 2016. A preview of the show can be found clicking here. You can also Subscribe on iTunes.

HEAR Now Festival 2016

The annual audio arts show is around the corner. Starting June 9 and ending on the 12th, it has a number of lineups for 2016. The show takes place in Kansas City, MO and is in its 4th year. HEAR Now is a festival for audio storytelling enthusiasts. Everything from audio dramas, audiobooks, full-cast readings and more–the event has workshops, live recordings, competitions and everything an audio storytelling fan could want.

This year’s attractions include “Celebrating Mark Twain,” “Shakespeare in Sound,” “The Mark Time Awards” and much more.

Find out about the festival by visiting: http://www.hearnowfestival.org.

If you plan on going this year or have attended in the past, leave a comment on this post. We’d love to hear your thoughts on this festival for the audible arts.

Sabido Style Radio Dramas and Nepal

Western society has had a big hand on radio dramas success on 20th and 21st century culture. From the invention of the radio to podcasts, the theater of the mind has attracted fans new, far and even across continents. According to the Kathmandu Post, radio dramas have not only been alive in regions other than the North America and Europe, but also in parts of Asia and South America.

In an article written by Deepesh Paudel, published on May 29 of this year, radio drama has become the norm for many in Nepal. For more than six years, the affordability and reliability of the radio has proven a great influence, with 80 percent of people in Nepal saying its their preferred media outlet. “Radio dramas have been playing an integral role in the promotion of behavioural transformation, propagation of moral standards and intervention in various social practices,” says Paudel. The popularity of broadcasts such as Sathi Sanga Mann Kaa Kura, Katha Mitho Sarangiko and Gaun Gaun Ma Singha Durbar have had a long-lasting effect on the citizens of Nepal, and a new style of storytelling has changed the game even further.

Sabido Style

Coined by Mexican Screenwriter Miguel Sabido, the sabido style is the use of techniques found in both serialized dramas and soap operas to bring about social change. In this style of storytelling, the message or moral is more important than the characters or story.

As many in the audio drama field have noted, the singular use of sound to paint an image inside a listener’s head takes a different kind of skills than prose or film can offer. Audio dramas are the blending of screenwriting (dialogue) and the imagination of the individual paint its own image of the setting. Novels, short stories and everything in between use the written word to get this across. All audio dramas have are sound effects and dialogue.

Adding in the Sabido style to an already complex and unique process, makes this method of storytelling difficult. Yet, in Nepal, radio dramas such as “Mai Sari Sunaakhari” have proven that overt theme and stories aren’t mutually exclusive and that it is possible to have both and do it well.

Have your own thoughts? Did I miss something? Let me know in the comments or send an e-mail to editor@audidramadigest.com for a chance to be featured on the site in an editorial.

Mistborn: Shadows of Self

The fifth novel in the Mistborn series, Shadows of Self shares more in common with the original trilogy than the Alloy of Law–the fourth book. In that book, we’re introduced to the characters of Wax and Wayne. Despite their different personalities, the same letter at the beginning of their names makes for a confusing read. Thankfully most of that got straightened out in the first book starring these two vigilantes out in the wild west.

Alloy of Law comparisons aside, Shadows of Self isn’t a standard Mistborn novel. While the magic systems are still ever-present in the world and have evolved since the days of the original trilogy, their importance has dwindled. Shadows of Self is a mystery whose clues and conclusion rely on knowledge of the previous books to get the full effect the author intended.

The star of this new era of Mistborn is Wayne and Michael Kramer’s portrayal of him. He steals every scene he’s in and his point of view scenes are a delight. All the characters are well-rounded, but I know I’m not alone in thinking that Wayne brings life to an otherwise like-minded cast.

Overall, Shadows of Self is a darker tale set in the Mistborn universe, filled with murder, mystery and an easy to spot twist. Its balancing act between dark fantasy and light-hearted epic fantasy is blurry at best, but because of Wayne, stays clear of complete Grimdark territory.

4/5 Stars

The Bright Sessions (Season One)

The first season of the audio drama “The Bright Sessions” (written by Lauren Shippen) may be two people talking in a room, but it’s some of the most compelling storytelling and acting I’ve heard in a while. The premise is straight forward–a psychologist for the supernatural.

The story isn’t simply Dr. Bright talking with her patients for 10-20 minutes per episode. Each of her patients has an otherworldly power. Mind reading is the most “normal” in terms of speculative fiction. The most complex character is Caleb. His ability isn’t too specular (reading people’s emotions, rather than thought), but Lauren Shippen’s 16 year old character balances the line of homosexual and heterosexual behavior that one can interpret his sexuality either way and isn’t heavy-handed as a result.

Diversity aside, it’s hard to fault something this basic. It accomplishes what it sets out to do. There’s no complex narrative or witty banter between Dr. Bright and her patients, which eliminates any need for speculation or theory-crafting, almost.

As the story unfolds through Dr. Bright’s audio logs before and after the sessions, her interest in these unique people seems a bit more ominous. By the end of episode nine, you realize there’s more to this service than simply helping people with extraordinary powers.

Another fascinating aspect of this story is the transmedia nature of the podcast episode descriptions. There’s a sense of a larger world through them. Sure it might seem shallow, but what transmedia campaign is known for being anything other than a gimmick. For example, what do the levels of empath mean? How powerful is a level seven compared to a level four?

So much is left unanswered at the season finale, but based on the structure of each episode, there’s no feeling of loose ends. At least not when you consider it’s a season finale with more being released on a regular basis.

5/5 Stars

The Death of Captain America

The aftermath of Marvel’s Civil War is a story which holds no punches, but those punches are rather soft. Unlike its predecessor, “The Death of Captain America” doesn’t have the luxury of falling back on other heroes and villains in the Marvel universe, when things get a bit dull. This is primarily a Captain America tale, or rather, the repercussions of his death to everyone who both knew him and knew of him.

There are a plethora of characters in this story, not as grand as Marvel’s Civil War, but enough to keep it mildly interesting. The political undercurrent which kept the story afloat barely gets by with simple tropes. The main cast includes Agent 13, Bucky Barnes, the Falcon and many others on both sides of the compass of good and evil, including those in the morally grey area.

Within the first hour, the villain Crossbones has killed America’s hero and most famous World War Two veteran. As with most stories about assassination, the person carrying out the job is not the same as the person orchestrating it. There’s a lot of mystery, but nothing which felt like a good act three twist. The actors seem to downplay those moments of revelation in order to preserve the tone of the piece. Unfortunately for them, the tone isn’t that interesting and the foreshadowing is so abysmal that it might as well not be there at all.

One example of the poor, nonexistent, foreshadowing is the man pretending to be Captain America after Steve Rogers’ death. This comes much later in the story and, no, I’m not referring to Bucky Barnes AKA the Winter Soldier. Before the imposter gets in the costume, he is found by Agent 13 and we learn all about him as apparently he was an important character in the super soldier serum aftermath. For those not blessed with back issues of Marvel Comics, this feels like a bit of a stretch, considering this is the first time he’s appeared in the story or is even mentioned.

Like most Graphic Audio dramas. The casting is spot on and the music exhilarating and calm at just the right moments. Most of the complaints come from the adaptation or the source material, rather than the production value. The first Graphic Audio production I’ve ever disliked on some level. Hopefully it will be the last as I truly enjoy the work they do.

3.5/5 Stars

Darth Plagueis

Taking place before the events of the Star Wars prequels, “Darth Plagueis” is a political drama about the story of Hugo Demask’s and his apprentice, Darth Sidious’ rise to power.

While not part of the new canon, established by “Star Wars Episode VII,” it does have a few problems with pacing. At times the politics can get boring, but unlike the prequels it’s not sloppily mashed together with kid-friendly moments that don’t make sense given the galactic scale conflict. In a way, “Darth Plagueis” is almost what the prequels could’ve been, as the politics are given much more detail and aren’t constrained by the length of a movie.

The story itself mostly focuses on Sidious and his rise to the position of Supreme Chancellor. Aside from the opening chapters, the title character of Darth Plagueis (Hugo Demask) barely has any point-of-view scenes. Sidious steals the show in both the story and the narrator’s portrayal of him.

By far the best part was the soundscape. Little things like blaster and lightsaber sounds make this more than an audiobook and fully immerses you in a galaxy far, far away.

Trying not to compare this with the prequels is hard, because the story takes place before the events of The Phantom Menace, but it does drag on in–mostly due to the political scenes where very little happens. On the plus side, it does explain a lot of the backstory behind the Phantom Menance’s convulted plot.

Overall, the story is much better than the prequels, but with dozens of Star Wars novels out in the world, with more coming on a regular basis, there are certainly better ones available for purchase. However, if you’re one of the people who liked the concept of the prequels, but hated the execution, this might be a good alternative. At the very least it gives you some insight into the world George Lucas had in his head, but didn’t get explained on the screen.

4/5 Stars

New Contact Information

Some of you may have noticed that your e-mails to michaelbergonzi@audiodramareviews.com have not been sent. In preparation for the new  server switch, I forgot to set up new a new e-mail address.

The post titled “Reviewers Wanted” is now up to date with the correct e-mail address. All review requests should be made to Requests@AudioDramaReviews.com. If you’ve submitted previously to the old e-mail, don’t worry I still have access to it. I just can’t receive any mail. Not sure about sending it.

In any case, here is a list of the following shows on the review queue:

  1. The Bright Sessions
  2. New Century – Arlington
  3. Wooden Overcoats
  4. Caalo Xan
  5. Gallow Tree

If you’ve submitted something that isn’t listed above, please e-mail the above e-mail address. If you’ve contacted me about wanting to be a reviewer for the site, send an e-mail to Volunteer@AudioDramaReviews.

Reviewers Wanted

In an effort to expand readership, Audio Drama Reviews has opened up their doors to other critics of the art form. We are looking for a few writers/reviewers to add to the arsenal. If you are fan of audio drama, full-cast productions, audiobooks, or any story told without required visuals, send an e-mail over to Michael@AudioDramaReviews.com. Use the subject: “ADR Employment – GENRE OF INTEREST” (See below).

We are looking for 3-6 reviewers in the following genres (two for each one is the goal, but one per genre is also good):

Comedies
Horror
Anthologies

Please note, for the time being, these are volunteer positions. I’d love to be able to pay people per word right out of the gate, but it’s just not feasible for me right now.

The body of the e-mail should contain your credentials. A cover letter. Don’t worry if your new to reviewing anything artistic. Once the e-mail is sent, I’ll reply back with some follow-up questions. The sooner you answer these, the sooner you can be added to the reviewer’s roster. These questions are to help me place you inside your ideal position.

If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below.

Thank you.

–Michael Bergonzi

The Wall in the Mind

The Wall in the Mind is an Irish-produced audio drama set in Berlin before and after the fall of the Berlin wall. It centers around an Irish woman named Claire O’Hanlon and her adolescent boyfriend Emil who mysteriously reappeared after years of being missing. The main focus is Claire and her obsession with finding out the truth about Emil.

By far the best part of this audio drama was the dystopian tone from the pre-fall period of the Berlin wall. There was so much tension and realistic angst for the characters, it felt like I was experiencing the second Hunger Games film in audio form. The fact that it’s set in the real world past makes it all the more bleak.

The title is purposefully misleading. Throughout the story you get a sense that Claire might not be all there. She’s constantly making rash decisions when she arrives in modern day Berlin all because she is desperate for some closure.

The German and Irish accents can be hard to understand for an american audience, but you still get the general sense of what they’re saying despite not hearing all the words. The actors, specifically the male ones, sound similar enough to each other that you wonder who’s talking to whom. The cast is also a bit to large for the kind of story there telling, making it needlessly complex. The soundscape was created on location, which definitely added to the confusing nature of the dialogue and scenes. Audio drama may be a blind medium, but when the listener feels blind as to what’s going on, the immersion factor decreases.

My interest level waxed and waned constantly throughout listening. There are so many twists and turns and you’re sure the story will end a certain way. In fact the story practically confirmed my early suspicions during episode five. However by the end of the series, it’s not entirely clear why the scene was included as it raises more questions than it answers. Needless to say I fell for the misdirection, thinking Emil’s fate had to be part of some conspiracy. It’s almost like “Memento” in the way our primary focus is on one character. Everything we experience is filtered through the lens of Claire O’Hanlon.

Overall this six-part audio drama series is a great example of writer’s creating misdirection in their mysteries. Even if they didn’t quite nail the landing, it was still an impressive jump.

4/5 Stars