The Mid Ohio Valley Players will perform their next offering of social distance theatre this Friday, June 5 at 7:00 p.m. MOVP invites you to join them on Zoom as they present a fifth installment of WMOVP Radio Theatre. This week WMOVP takes you to outer space. Director Suzanne Walker explains, “We are trying to give our audience a chance to experience the various genres of classic radio. Science fiction was wildly popular with programs like Buck Rogers, Dimension X and Suspense. The two episodes to be performed this week explore space travel to Venus and Martian invasion.”
A Pride of Carrots, or Venus Served was written by American novelist Robert Nathan about the first astronauts to land on Venus and the talking vegetables who live there. The episode is an allegory of the Cold War – with Venus divided into two factions of talking vegetables, carrots representing the West, and onions and leeks the East. While set in a specific era, the message is timeless, said Walker, “The political satire is particularly poignant right now as our country experiences such divisiveness and unrest. One of the aspects that viewers will notice is the attempt to add “scenery” to this performance through the use of Zoom backgrounds. David Scheimann, who plays the news reported turned astronaut, explains, “It’s a fun show, and a chance to do something you might not be able to on stage. The challenge of creating different sets, like a rocket ship or an extraterrestrial landscape, have been surmounted, and the audience can either use the backgrounds the actors provide as a prompt, or just close their eyes and let the audio and sound effects transport them to Venus.”
I tuned in for one of the earlier broadcasts, and saw that the actors were having a lot of fun. I’m a fan of science-fiction, so when this show was announced, I really wanted to be a part of it. I’ve done community theater for over thirty years, but being broadcast is new for me. I think this is also a great way for community members who are interested in theater, but maybe a little shy, to get involved–there’s less pressure, and you can work your way into feeling more comfortable. It’s a chance to be a little silly, too!
After a five-minute intermission, the Martians invade in Zero Hour a short story by Ray Bradbury, adapted by Anthony Ellis. When the episode first aired on Suspense in 1955, it was met with significant controversy. CBS received hundreds of letters because listeners found it so disturbing. The story unfolds over the course of a day as Mink, played by Amber Smrek, joins her friend Anna, Maeghan O’Neill, in a children’s game called ‘invasion.’ The game starts to become frighteningly real as the time moves inexorably to five o’clock, the designated zero hour for the ‘imaginary’ Martian invaders’ arrival. According to George Faber, who is playing the Announcer, “Zero Hour is the Twilight Zone type of material Ray Bradbury did so well. In the vein of HG Wells’ War of the Worlds and classic suspense theatre, the story’s ending has the power to shock and unnerve the listener.”
To view the live performances, join on the webinar link or call in to hear the audio at 301-715-8592 or 312-626-6799, Webinar ID: 936 2677 9110.
The idea for social distance theatre came out of an offer from founding director Suzanne Walker’s employer, Marietta College, to allow its employees the opportunity to use their Zoom accounts to stay in touch with family and friends and to assist with non-profits with whom they were connected. It has provided MOVP the ability to continue to offer entertainment to the valley and to support others. Faber said, “The new format with Social Distance Theatre mixes voice acting with the emotive addition of live theatre. During this trying time, while our stages are dark, it’s nice to have a creative outlet and provide some free entertainment to our community. Hopefully, more people will discover these Friday night offerings and enjoy them like our parents and grandparents did, clustered around the radio in the days before television. I can’t say enough about the collaboration between MOVP Radio and Marietta College. This has been a joy.”
Scheimann agreed, “I tuned in for one of the earlier broadcasts, and saw that the actors were having a lot of fun. I’m a fan of science-fiction, so when this show was announced, I really wanted to be a part of it. I’ve done community theater for over thirty years, but being broadcast is new for me. I think this is also a great way for community members who are interested in theater, but maybe a little shy, to get involved–there’s less pressure, and you can work your way into feeling more comfortable. It’s a chance to be a little silly, too!”
Next week, June 12, at 7:00 p.m. WMOVP Radio Theatre will present a classic radio mystery, Ellery Queen, The Adventure of the Murdered Ship. Audience members will have the opportunity to solve the mystery and post their answers in the Zoom Chat prior to the ending being revealed. For those who missed the previous live broadcasts, the episodes are now available to view on the theatre’s Facebook page under the video tab.