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War Of The Worlds

September 22, 2014

The original 1938 War of the Worlds radio broadcast, simulating an alien invasion near Grovers Mill, New Jersey, was performed on the air as a Halloween episode by Orson Welles and The Mercury Theatre. This Halloween, Drexel’s Co-Op Theatre Company will stage a radio theatre production of the broadcast that created widespread panic across the country 75 years ago. “We thought it would be a lot of fun,” Director Nick Anselmo says on staging the show as a Halloween event.

In a “Theater of the Ear” production that harkens back to radio dramas, the only visual elements on stage during the show will be the creation of sound effects. “We are going to try to be as true to the original production as possible, which I believe included placing a microphone inside a toilet to create the echo sound of the reporter in the field,” Anselmo said. “We may not go that far, but we are going to do everything we can and we have hired a wonderful sound designer to create the effects with the actors.” Stefán Örn Arnarson, Rutgers University Theatre Programs Director and Music Instructor, has designed the production’s sound.

A limited seating preview of the show will take place on Thursday, October 30 at 8:00pm. The opening performance will be on Halloween, Friday, October 31 at 8:00pm. As with last year’s Halloween-timed performance of Godzilla, audience members in costume will receive free tickets to the show. Two more performances will take place on Saturday, November 1 at 8:00pm and Sunday, November 2 at 2:00pm. All performances are in the URBN Annex Black Box Theater (3401 Filbert Street). Tickets are $5 with a Drexel ID, $10 for all other students and $15 for the general public.
The show isn’t the Theater program’s first foray into radio drama. Several years ago, the Late Night Series along with the Theater program created the radio show Combustible Radio Theater, an evening of comic sketches written by NPR political satirist Richard Pliskin along with live music and two short plays, which aired on WKDU. Anselmo says that the War of the Worlds performance may also be broadcast on WKDU.