Press Release: The Good Listener

THE GOOD LISTENER

A new 3 part radio drama from Holy Mountain is a highly authentic portrayal of life inside GCHQ.

BBC Radio 4

Monday 31st October at 1415

Tuesday 1st November at 1415

Wednesday 2nd November at 1415

 

Listen to the trailer:

www.holymountain.co.uk

 

The Good Listener is the result of a long and detailed research process undertaken by its creators, writer Fin Kennedy and director Boz Temple-Morris, into the doings of GCHQ, the spy agency responsible for cyber security and digital operations. This is the third outing for the production after one-off radio dramas in 2014 and 2015. During this time Fin and Boz have consulted professionals and experts from all sides, even gaining access to GCHQ itself. Their enquiry has been wide ranging, looking at day to day life inside the ‘doughnut’ as well as the operations themselves and the political context.

 

This story begins a reluctant Henry Morcombe and his team are preparing to listen in to the G20 conference of world leaders. A cyber-attack is detected that targets the electricity network across London – not unusual in itself, but this one is remarkable in its complexity and resilience. Clearly a major attack is about to unfold. This could be a terrorist act, a criminal one or even an attack sponsored by a nation state. The team need to find the source and neutralise the threat before blackouts bring chaos and major casualties.

 

Cyber-crime targeting critical infrastructure remains an issue of serious concern to guardians of national security around the world. Highly secretive projects exist not only to defend against such attacks but also to use them offensively against nation state targets.

 

Owen Teale (Game of Thrones, and currently appearing with Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart in No Mans Land) stars as Henry Morcombe, an old school GCHQ agent who is fighting from within to keep the agency from becoming like their USA counterparts, NSA, whom he considers to be data-hungry and militaristic.

 

Holy Mountain are known for innovative productions that are rich in sound and also for tackling serious issues with rigour and balance. See below.

 

Director and Producer Boz Temple-Morris;

“We’re telling a really good story about normal people trying to do an abnormal job. The work of GCHQ is so central to the way we live today – and vital to our national security – and yet so little little is known about what they do and how they do it. Should we be more grateful for the protection they offer us or more angry at the liberties they take with our privacy? Maybe both? The Good Listener takes the audience inside the doughnut but lets them judge what’s happening for themselves.”

 

The Good Listener is created by Fin Kennedy and Boz Temple-Morris and also features the work of Hassan Abdulrazzak (writer, part 2) and Anders Lustgarten (writer, part 3).

 

Press Release: Radio Drama Creator Tom Lopez Launches New Audio Drama Streaming Website

Influential radio dramatist Tom Lopez has launched a new website for lovers of audio drama.  The website allows subscribers to stream a total of 238 hours of radio drama for a small monthly or annual fee.  

Lopez has been producing radio/audio stories for 46 years – comic and cosmic adventures, science fiction, mystical mysteries, some with spiritual wisdoms, and some that are just down right fun, family entertainment.  His intention has always been to raise consciousness by using the media, radio and audio.

The dramas include performances by a stable of talented actors from the worlds of Broadway, television and avant-garde theater; original music by composer Tim Clark; and real-world ambient sound Lopez has recorded around the globe.

Lopez’s non-profit foundation ZBS produced original stories for Public Radio, Internet Radio, CDs, and MP3 downloads. When radio drama peaked in the 1980’s many of his series aired on the BBC, CBC Canada, ABC Australia, National Public Radio & Armed Forces Radio, including over 500 stations in the US.  As radio drama began to disappear from the airwaves, Lopez sought out alternative avenues of distribution that were consistent with his adventurous nature including podcasting.

Over the years Lopez has kept ZBS alive with government grants and commissions for audio books. Fans have played a critical role by donating money and buying his finished radio dramas online.

“People actually give us money to continue to produce,” Lopez says. “These are all public radio listeners. They understand that you have to support not-for-profit arts organizations.”

Fans of radio drama can check out Lopez’s catalogue and find out more information at www.zbsmedia.com.

 

Jazz Beitler

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.

Fugue State

One word: “Mind blowing” is all that comes to mind when thinking about “Fugue State.” From both a production and story standpoint, this short 45 minute production from BBC Radio 4 is everything you expect from a modern audio drama, but plays with the structure of a traditional narrative.

The setup was brilliant. In fact, you don’t realize how brilliant it is until your 3/4 of the way through, because you’re enjoying the story as it unfolds. The way the creators used the medium of audio to their advantage by crafting a story around it, rather than the other way around, is brilliant. The story is deeply layered. It’s a different kind of depth than something like the dialogue in “Powder Burns.” Rather, it’s the techniques that have been used by audio dramatists for almost a century, molded together in a different and unique way.

With all this praise, one thing that bothered me was the ending. It was too abrupt. After hearing the credits, one’s reaction would probably be one of “it’s over?” For someone who’s been listening to audio dramas of all shapes and sizes, the moment of getting lost in a story for the mind is a rare phenomenon indeed and one I haven’t experienced since my introduction to audio drama podcasts. This was both a huge nostalgia trip and a cohesive story. Something that is a hard thing to do.

The film “Interstellar” is a good movie to compare this story with. Both have elements of wonder involving space and the ideas they posit are completely unimaginable by human standards. In “Interstellar” the people who made it possible to get from Saturn to another galaxy are referred to as the mysterious “them.” By the film’s climax, we still aren’t sure with 100 percent certainty who created the wormhole: aliens or humans. As the character Polly explains in the audio drama, the human mind can’t comprehend what happens when it has truly “blown.”

Therein lies an inherent problem with the “Fugue States” ending. The explanation for the mystery which drives us along for the majority of the tale is, for the most part, too abstract. This isn’t like love, where it can be somewhat quantifiable in the sense that we get sweaty palms or our nervous around those who have strong feelings for, but something beyond comprehension. On a microlevel, this is commonly referred to as non-humanoid characters. Whether they’re aliens or something else, fictional people who are so out there in both appearance and customs are too far removed from human culture that we can’t empathize with them. That being said, the metaphor of the ant was well done and gave a good enough explanation to make the concept not completely alien to us.

All in all, “Fugue State” is worthy of the praise it has gotten, from both the story and the “wow” factor it invokes if you just think about it.

You can listen to it here.

5/5 stars

Edict Zero FIS: Season One

Part sci-fi, part cop drama–Edict Zero FIS excels in both engaging storytelling and tremendous acting. The one downside is that the medium level details are lost in translation. There were many times where you don’t know what’s going on, but on a micro and macro level, you understand everything you need to know. Perhaps a better word would be the specifics of the information.

The plot revolves around a team of federal operatives who are tasked with solving the mystery of who the illustrious Mr. Cook is and the reason behind him blowing up a building on New Years Eve. From there things get complicated.

The sci-fi may be prevalent in the technology and SFX of the show, but at its heart this is a cop drama. Albeit with less of an episodic-feel, where one episode equals one crime. There’s an overarching plot, which seems simple, but the more that’s uncovered, the more intriguing it gets.

The characters are great. Each one had a distinct voice, both on paper and the microphone. By far the most interesting reoccurring one is Agent Garrett, who has all the trappings of a sociopathic character, but is a federal agent. My favorite character in the first season, who disappears after his usefulness to the agents is fulfilled, is Socrates. Creator of the show, Jack Kincaid gives a performance that is mind blowing. The best I’ve heard in a long time when it comes to audio drama podcasts.

Around episode five of the nine episode first season is where the season reaches it’s peak. There’s so much going on, it demands a second listen as you’re bound to miss something minor. However, you can follow the story just fine without going through it again. Needless to say, this on my re-listen list and that’s an honor not many audio dramas have received.

4.5/5 stars

Neverwhere

When you have the star of BBC’s Sherlock and a young Charles Xavier from X-men: First Class as part of the cast, the possibilities are endless. You don’t see the words “all-star cast” in audio dramas too much, but this deserves it. I’m just talking about the production value now. Don’t get me started on the story. I feel like I’ve reviewed Dirk Maggs’ work before on the site. Or at least, I’ve heard that name somewhere before.

The story is simple and at times, filled with too many tropes—at least in the first episode. That’s not to say they’re cliche, however. When they introduced the majority of the characters in that first episode, the main problem was that I could see the almighty hand of either the author or the person adapting the work for audio. For example, they make the protagonist be nice to everyone right from the start. That’s a good way to make a reader like a character, because we’re being shown who the character is, rather than being told. In an audio drama however, this feels a little awkward. I thought this throughout the first episode, but once episode two came along, I forgot all about it. That has to be my only complaint about this six part BBC Radio 4 production of Neil Gaiman’s “Neverwhere” (that and it’s no longer available). 🙁