Burst

I had worried at first that not being in Cambridge physically this term would halt the theatre scene; however, I soon realised this was not going to happen. The ‘thesp’ community was just as vibrant and busy as ever, and people seemed to want to keep creating. I had always wanted to write a podcast, and this seemed like the perfect time.

Rather than being restrictive, I actually found the writing process liberating. I was able to write a story set in space. I’m not saying it’s impossible to do that convincingly on a physical stage, but I am grateful not to have to be messing about with tin foil and alien costumes. The idea of trying to perform scenes set in zero gravity in the Corpus Playroom gives me nightmares, but in audio format it’s simple. A few tricks of sound, some acting and a healthy dose of imagination on the listener’s part and bam, we’re floating. Without worrying about whether our effects and stunts were convincing enough, we were able to focus on telling the story.

The ability to tell fantastical stories without a high budget or lots of technical skill is something familiar in the podcasting scene. ‘Welcome to Night Vale’, the first podcast series I ever listened to, and arguably one that inspired a whole new movement of audio dramas, would simply not work if it had visuals. At least, I’m unsure how they’d have depicted a 5-headed dragon visually without it coming across as silly. ‘Wooden Overcoats’ is narrated entirely by a mouse, but without the visuals, this is neither difficult to believe, nor intrusive to the main plot. I think if the live action remake of ‘Cats’ has taught us anything, it’s that fancy effects don’t necessarily work; the beauty of an audio format is that we don’t have to worry.

Marina McCready

But the audio format has strengths beyond being relatively budget friendly. Creating a compelling story with only sound forces you to work a lot harder with what you have. It’s an unforgiving format- no lighting to convey mood, no costumes to cover up lapses in character. You have to entirely focus on your vocal acting, which I really think can make the performances much stronger.

Audio dramas also allow the audience a greater degree of creative control. I was careful not to include too much in my writing about what the characters looked like, allowing the listeners to form their own opinions. Perhaps you’ll look up the voice actors and imagine their characters like that, or perhaps you’ll imagine someone completely different. Any interpretation is valid.


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The trick to audio dramas is to trust your listeners to use their imagination. I’ve told you that ‘Burst’ is set in a space station, but the details are up to you. I may have an image of the characters in my mind, but that’s just my personal image, and even though I created them, I don’t think my image is any more valid than yours - death of the author and all that. In my opinion, listening to a story and having to envisage the scenes in my head makes the experience a lot more personal. Alone in my room, headphones in, I know I am experiencing the story in a way entirely unique to myself. I hope you enjoy the story you experience when you listen to ‘Burst’.

Burst will be performed daily at 2pm from Monday the 1st of June to Friday the 5th of June. You can listen to it on the ADC Youtube Channel.

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