Interview: Bob Koester, Director of Companions

Interview took place on 01/04/2017. MB=Michael Bergonzi. BK: Bob Koester.

You can check out the review of his audio drama: Companions over at AudioDramaReviews.com shortly after the 200th review celebration on the 29th of January. Check back here to get the link. Also be sure to follow us one Twitter and Facebook. And don’t forget, we have a Patreon.

MB: So, what sparked this story?

BK: The story began with the ending, sort of. I imagined a specific post-apocalyptic scenario basically like the one that Companions ends with, and then decided I wanted to get there by starting from before the apocalyptic event happened.

MB: Interesting. What was the hardest thing about writing this story?

BK: Probably capturing what makes the leads, Harry and Cailyn, fall in love. That’s a pretty big mystery in general, and as I say the original idea was more of a Big Picture Science Fiction thing. I kind of borrowed a trick from Shakespeare by having them already kind of like each other before the story begins, so they just need some incidents to become mutually aware of it.

MB: Yeah, one thing I noticed while listening was that the virus affecting everyone back on Earth sort of took a backseat to the romance. Speaking of that, was the idea of the simulation from the story’s inception or did you think of that later?

BK: Yeah, the love story definitely took over during the course of writing it. As to the simulation, I knew there’d be some sort of long-distance communication from the beginning, with some people far off and isolated in a classic sci-fi way. The simulations came in about halfway through, when I was looking for something that would require the characters to really invest in each other if they wanted to relate.

MB: So you were pretty set on the isolation aspect of the characters and didn’t want Harry and Kay to meet each other in real life. Why make this an audio drama?

BK: Well, it started first as a movie idea (I have a hobby of making short films), then I decided the setting made that too difficult, so I thought of making it a short novel. That’s when I came up with the character of CO, to be the narrator of the novel. But then I decided that the simulation sessions made it all very theatrical. They’re putting on a show for each other, and kind of living their relationship in scenes. It was actually put on as a one-day minimalist stage show. But then I decided as an audio drama I’d have great ability to use background noises and the like to indicate places and events to the audience.

MB: Interesting. I never would’ve pictured a simulation as theatrical. Were the actors in the same room when they recorded or was this all done remotely?

BK: All in one room. For a while it seemed like that wouldn’t be possible, but I’m glad it worked out that way.

MB: Cool. The structure of the narrative is less than traditional. What made you want to tell a story in such a non-linear and unconventional way when so many of the ideas in the story are difficult to grasp? The simulated Harry and Kay vs their real life counterparts and the technical jargon being the two main examples.

BK: Well let’s see. Telling it all as a story from a future point was a way of making that post-apocalyptic future kind of permeate it. It quickly became clear that I wasn’t going to spend a lot of time there, narratively, because the romance became so central, so I wanted a kind of developing sense that the events we were seeing had let to something else later. Even though the audience spends a lot of time not knowing exactly what that future was or exactly what the significance of these future characters could be.

As far as the audience picking up on the simulations vs. real-life people, that is a lot to ask and it was kind of a leap of faith in the audience. I think in a stage play there’d be ways to telegraph some of it, or I could have done the same by having the simulations have some sort of voice effect to differentiate them from the real people, but I decided the potential sense of accomplishment the audience would get from figuring it out themselves could be worth the risk.

In the YouTube version of the story, which has accompanying abstract computer graphics, I put in a hint about who is real and who’s a simulation in each scene, but less than half of people I ask pick up on it, and even they all had figured it out before they noticed the clue.

MB: Well, let me just get on record as being one of those confused listeners. You said this was originally a movie idea. Did you have trouble adapting for a medium without visuals?

BK: Um, I didn’t THINK I had trouble, I guess you’d be a better judge of the result. I did definitely have to make some changes. I drastically altered a scene because the early version had relied on visual cues and just using the way a play stage works. But in my head at least it seemed pretty natural once it changed. If challenging.

I’m sure I lean on a bunch of science fiction stuff that makes sense to me and doesn’t occur to me to explain. And pretty much every version had more and more explanation cut out because it can be kind of dead air if it’s not necessary.

Also some more basic stuff, like Harry telling Cailyn that she “sounds worried” rather than “looks worried”. Which is almost counter-intuitive but I liked the idea that the audience could judge for itself whether he was reading her rightly, rather than having to imagine what expression she had that was worrying him.

MB: I get that. I’m the same way with my own writing, never sure of how little information I’m actually giving the reader until someone actually experiences it. Anyway, thanks for taking the time to chat with me. Are there any social media channels readers/listeners can find you at?

BK: You’re very welcome! I’m @hamletseries on twitter. Companions is on Facebook at facebook.com/playcompanions, and I have a blog at hamletseries.wordpress.com that is currently dominated by Companions-related stuff, including ways to listen to or download it.

Press Release: UK International Radio Drama Festival 2017

Submissions are now open for the 3rd UK International Radio Drama Festival (UKIRDF) that takes place in the historic seaside town of Herne Bay between February 20th-25th, the submission deadline is 31st December 2016.

Through a local FM broadcast the festival airs a variety of radio dramas from across the world, in their native languages, over the course of the festival. Once the dramas have been aired FM audiences will be able to listen to the shows again via our website.

As well as featuring in the festival we are also honoured to be able to have two awards, £2,000 for feature drama and £750 for short drama and there is also a Public Award of £750 voted for from our listeners both online and on air.

What makes the UKIRDF so unique is that we are the biggest international radio drama festival in the UK. The 2016 festival had over 60 submissions from all over the world which enabled the creative team to programme 30 feature programmes and 10 shorts over the festival period.

We aim to truly champion the power of that radio drama continues to play in the lives of audiences and to further this the UKIRDF theme is From Stage To Air, more information on this can be found in the Festival Regulations.

UKIRDF remains a free festival to submit to and we welcome radio dramas from national broadcasters, professional bodies and independent producers.

You can check out their website here. Or, if you’re interested in submitting, download and fill out the form.

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.

Hadron Gospel Hour Episode 1: The Reluctant Hadronaut

Welcome to the multi-verse or at least one creator’s idea of a timeless science fiction trope. Dr. Who be damned, because there’s a new quirky comedy on the scene and it’s combining elements of Robot Chicken with Sci-fi comedy from the stylings of The Destiny of Special Agent Ace Galaksi. Hadron Gospel Hour promises to achieve both great storytelling and acts of random humor.

What makes this unique is how it uses the multiverse trope to justify the occasional random humor. That could be a turn off for some people. The beginning is way out there in terms of the randomness factor. It’s not until you get past the fake commercials for things like the awesome product that everyone needs that you get into the real meat and potatoes of the first episode. It’s an interesting way to set up the series and the world building behind it. In the essence of “show, don’t tell,” the creator(s) have achieved an interesting balance between explaining the world and showing you how random and unpredictable it can be.

The first episode has a whacky beginning, a comedic middle, and an ending that takes the whole thing up two notches. Honestly, the way they tied the main plot of this individual episode and the setup for the series together was outstanding. I certainly wasn’t expecting that kind of twist so early in the show’s debut.

The Administration Episode 1: “We Won?”

The first episode of Mike Murphy’s comedy series, The Administration, is a great combination of politics and comedy. I know, I was shocked too when I found out  one doesn’t imply the other.

Anyway, the story is about a less than competent President-elect who makes the worst president seem like the second worst president (Best simile ever). The first episode picks up after Richard Duncan learns he’s won the election by a mere toss of a coin. How this came to be is pushing the boundaries of what would actually happen in that kind of scenario, in fact I’m sure it’s completely false. By itself it would’ve taken me out of the story, but the context and it’s placed in is so hilarious that you can’t help but laugh and accept it. The acting was hilarious as well, in a good way.

The episode continues with Richard Duncan giving his advisor, Mergatroid (yes, that’s his name), so much to deal with you think anyone would have quit by now. Perhaps there’s more to Mergatroid than meets the eye? (Did I just make a Transformer’s reference?) Anyone in his shoes has to have a reason for sticking by the man. It may be family or business, I don’t know. But, seeing as this is the first episode I’ll suspend my disbelief.