The Sonic Society

Showcasing the very best in new Audio Drama

Welcome To The Sonic Society!

Each week Jack Ward and David Ault are pleased to showcase the very best Modern Audio Theatre (Radio Drama) from around the world. From the days of Old Time Radio in the early 20th century until the modern age of broadcasts, podcasts, and streaming simulcasts, audio plays are movies for the mind!

February 2018
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Should Radio Drama Be More Realistic?

Posted By on February 25, 2018

This article in The Guardian asks the question: Should Radio Drama Be More Realistic?

Fiona Morrell as the question. Here’s her argument. What do you think?

I’ve recently been working with the playwright Nell Dunn, directing her latest play, Home Death, at the Finborough theatre. The play examines the palliative care system through the eyes of people who have experienced someone dying at home. Early in rehearsals Nell gave us some wonderful advice: “When you turn on the radio,” she said, “you can hear – usually within a minute or two – whether you are listening to a radio play, or listening to a real person recounting their experience. I want the play to sound like the latter.” The last few weeks have found me turning the radio on and off, trying to understand the essence of what makes someone sound spontaneous, and how to bring my findings into the rehearsal process.

Verbatim theatre has become an incredibly successful theatrical medium during the last few years, from the political transcript work pioneered by the Tricycle theatre to the detailed, rigorous writing of Alecky Blythe, whose wonderful, compassionate London Road is currently selling out at the National. In one of Blythe’s earlier works, The Girlfriend Experience at the Royal Court, she explored verbatim by asking actors to listen to recordings of the material as they were performing, ensuring that every “um” and “ahh” was faithfully reproduced in front of the audience. There’s something compelling about working on material drawn from real-life characters – as a theatremaker you’re trying to get to the heart of why people make certain decisions and yet, of course, all of us are less than open. Everyone chooses what to reveal, and what not to; it’s in these ellipses that the true drama often lies.

But back to that moment of truth, when you turn on the radio. From a dramatic perspective, it’s down to technical realities. A “real” retelling will usually include more stumbles, more hesitations, maybe more pauses. Often, information will not be chronological; there will be sidetracks and diversions, inconsequential details and an avoidance of certain painful subjects. Not only is this sense of absolute reality tricky to write or notate, but the twists and turns often play unhelpfully against the narrative needed to ignite a conventional play.

A couple of years ago I heard, on Radio 4, a mother tell the story of her son who had died of malaria just after his gap year because he had given away his supply of pills to children whom he felt had a greater need. Her grief and fury at the situation boiled under her need to warn anyone who might be listening of the dangers of the disease, to try and prevent another mother going through her own experience. The interview was electrifying. Was this drama? It certainly had a beginning, middle and end, conjured up a vivid image of a place I’d never been and provoked a violent emotional reaction. Would an actor have been able to take the transcript of her interview and deliver it with the same passion? Perhaps yes. Would a writer be able to write it? Again, perhaps yes, but most likely they would edit it to something more coherent and direct – and lose something in the process.

Of course every play is dependent upon the quality of writing, directing and acting, and perhaps the mark of a good artistic team is their ability to capture that sense of spontaneity and freshness; and, for those on stage, the ability to recapture it night after night. Surely radio drama should be able to find that kind of freshness more easily – and yet, over the last month, I have been struck by how old-fashioned and flatly staged many of the plays we hear on the radio sound. Is it because the actors are reading from scripts? Is there too little time for character research? Or does it come down to the quality of writing or choice of script? Or maybe, now that I’ve become so attuned to the rhythms and cadences of real-life speech, the polished confidence of the imaginary feels somehow dissatisfying.


Sonic Echo 206: Dangerous Assignment

Posted By on February 22, 2018

Tonight on Sonic Echo, brother Jeffrey Billard brings a Dangerous Assignment to his amigos Lothar Tuppan and Jack Ward as they seek out “Sunken Ships”!

Episode 548: Wind in the Audios

Posted By on February 20, 2018

Tonight Jack bids David a fond farewell for his No Sleep Live tour with a little taste of the English Countryside as Radio Theater Project presents “The Wind in the Willows” adapted from Kenneth Grahame’s classic.

Who Do You Have Read Your Scripts?

Posted By on February 17, 2018

The Book Designer provides and article directed right to our content providers: Reality Check for Authors… What were you Thinking?

The article asks, “Who are in your inner circle?” and that brings up the big question for Audio Scriptwriters- Who do you show your scripts to? Who do you trust?

According to the article, consider collecting the following:

  • have a kaleidoscope of business experience;
  • are connected with others;
  • have a sense of humor;
  • will say it as it is;
  • will call out the elephant in the room (which could be you);
  • love to brainstorming and bounce off-the-wall ideas around;
  • move you to action;
  • get what social media marketing is about;
  • will embrace your Vision for your book and where you want to go with it.

Memorizing Lines

Posted By on February 15, 2018

If you’re anything like me, you’ve got trouble memorizing lines. Of course most actors in the Audio Drama world work in studio and this isn’t so much of a problem, however there may be value in memorizing some large text or being better prepared if you’re doing a live performance. Regardless, thanks to brother Jeffrey Billard, here’s some tips on how to beat the demon of getting those lines down from Backstage- 5 Major Obstacles to Memorizing Lines and 5 Practical Solutions.

Though there are a handful of legitimate obstacles to memorization, they’re easy enough to counter in pursuit of maximizing our memory’s efficiency and capacity.

Here are five of the major obstacles you might face when memorizing anything—whether it’s someone’s name or Shakespeare’s entire canon—along with practical and proven solutions.

1. Not paying attention. 
Without attention, memory is impossible. If you were looking over somebody’s shoulder at a TV screen as they introduced themselves at a networking event, you’d be unlikely to recall their name seconds later. Pay attention. If you read a script but cursorily glance at it instead of reading the actual words on the page, you will recall the script inaccurately, if at all.

Attention is the first essential step to memorization. Sometimes you’ll need to make a special effort to pay attention, but paying attention, in general, is a great start.

2. Having no actual technique.
Memory champions all admit they had poor or average memories before becoming the successes they are today, and that the ultimate boost came down to discovering mega-memory techniques that anyone can master given interest and time.

If you were to memorize the complete works of William Shakespeare for instance, you would do well to create a plan of attack, using either a “mind map” or a “memory palace” for his 37 plays and 154 sonnets, then choosing a place to start, without any time limit. Simply learn one per week and pick up the pace as you become more confident. Start on Shakespeare’s very first sonnet and chip away until you have three memorized, then five, then fifteen and so on.

READ: Learn Lines Like a Boss

3. Trying to do too much in one sitting.
Memorization is not a pie-eating contest. Cut it up, eat it in small pieces, chew well and take breaks to digest. With a little technique and extra time allocated in your day, you can increase your memory capabilities easily.

Already, your mind is probably doubting this is possible but consider that you already know the names of your parents, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, close friends and work colleagues—you’ve already proven it’s possible. This didn’t happen overnight, but gradually connections and associations were made until there was no other option than to remember them all.

4. Poor allocation or misallocation of time.
Fear of failing tends to force one’s attention to the easy parts because the reward is far greater when success is achieved. But this only further weakens the already-weak links in the chain. The solution is to spend much more time on the difficult parts since they’re the ones requiring more attention, but also get in early and nip potential problems in the bud.

JFK once said that “the time to fix the hole in your roof is when the sun is shining.” Work on your memory when you don’t need it so that when you do, it’s good to go.

5. Believing it’s impossible.
One may begin learning a new task with belief and still fail to become confident, but confidence rarely results without first being led by belief. The most pervasive mythspreventing you from even taking the first step to developing a brilliant memory is the belief that it won’t work. When you meet someone new at a networking event and say, “I’m sorry, I’m terrible with names,” don’t be surprised when you don’t recall their name the next day.

Instead of telling yourself you probably won’t remember something, start by saying you might. Though it’s no guarantee of success, it’s a great deal more likely that you’ll remember that person’s name, that friend’s birthday or the opening line of Shakespeare’s first sonnet the next day than if you told yourself you wouldn’t.

Paul Barry is an L.A.-based Australian acting teacher, author of “Choices,” and a Backstage Expert. Barry runs regular on-camera classes in Los Angeles and online around the world. For more information, check out Barry’s full bio!

Episode 547: Locked Tight

Posted By on February 13, 2018

Tonight Jack is back with David and they talk all things Mad-Con, NADSWRIM, Sonic Summerstock and of course the completion of “The Lock Whisperer” by Club 40 Audio in The Factory anthology by Wesley Critchfield!

Back to the Past

Posted By on February 8, 2018

With thanks to Theresa Martin who discovered this old gem while researching. Time to reminisce. Twelve years ago, I released my first book of scripts The Shadowlands. Here’s the article from Muskoka Region News:

Former Parry Sound High School teacher Jack Ward recently released this book of plays written for radio.

HALIFAX – Jack Ward loves radio drama. A previous teacher of English, drama and computers at Parry Sound High School, he’s been writing his story ideas. Although he now lives in Nova Scotia, Parry Sound continues to be a source for his inspiration. “It’s the people and the bay,” said Mr. Ward. “This dichotomy of living in a small community that is filled in the summer with big city folks. Parry Sound is the kind of place you would want to raise your kids, as seen by so many of my old students who still speak fondly of growing up there.” Mr. Ward teaches occasionally and has been working as his own consultant for computer software. While in school he headed the computer club, guitar group, and helped out with drama and the student newspapers. Now add author and playwright to his credentials. Shadowlands Theatre was a concept Mr. Ward came up with while finishing his English degree and attending Guelph University. He was hosting different literary radio shows for the campus radio station, and knew that a “twilight zone” like radio series would be a lot of fun. “After all, radio is the ultimate medium for story telling,” he said. “It requires no sets, no makeup, and much more imagination than television or movies. And with people constantly on the go, books on tape are at a premium for commuters and those who love to listen to drama.” Ten years later, and the dream has taken flight. With his friend Andrew Dorfman, Mr. Ward has gathered dozens of interested actors together and written an impressive series. More than 26 radio plays, all approximately 45 minutes long and all varying in subject matter from comedy, mystery, horror, suspense, fantasy, and science fiction. Collectively called The Shadowlands, Mr. Ward delves into moral questions and political quandaries of the day. His two-part episode Great Day for a War, explores a fictional event in a global news broadcast when the United States declares war on an African nation, because of recent terrorist attacks. Sound familiar? He has more mini-series in his toolbox. From a hard-boiled detective by the name of Phillip Graves in his four-part Graves Shift series or a hilarious parody of Buck Rogers with Biff Straker and the Spaceways! Mr. Ward is looking to catch both young and old audiences alike. Already his talent has caught the eyes of the publishing world. His book, Shadowlands Theatre: The Deadly Sins Scripts has been released by Crystal Dreams publishing in the U.S., and he recently released his first radio play, in the classic thriller style called Right Number, Wrong Party over CKDU-97.5-FM in Halifax. More information about Mr. Ward, his book and compact disc recordings of his plays can be found on his website: (now of course or– J.W.)

Episode 546: Keyed In

Posted By on February 6, 2018

Tonight David flies solo with the first part of “The Lock Whisperer” by Club 40 Audio in The Factory anthology by Wesley Critchfield!

Wolvie Goes Audio!

Posted By on February 6, 2018

You know it had to happen! The Nerdist presents the latest in an audio drama adventure series with Wolverine.

Marvel and Stitcher announced in late 2017 that they’d teamed up for a new audio drama podcast, Marvel’s first scripted podcast endeavor, featuring Wolverine. Ahead of March’s debut episode of Wolverine: The Long Night, Marvel has released the first audio trailer for the ten-episode series, which finds Wolverine far removed from the world of the X-MenThe Hobbit star Richard Armitage is providing Wolverine’s voice for this story, and the trailer indicates that even Logan isn’t sure about what kind of man he really is.

Wolverine/Logan will be the star of his own story, but he will also share the spotlight with FBI agents Sally Pierce and Tad Marshall. The Long Night is set in Burns, Alaska, where a savage serial killer has left of a trail of terror in their wake. An amnesiac Logan is the town’s prime suspect, and the trailer indicates that his claws and his kinship with wolves have created a local mythology about his powers. Pierce and Marshall lead the hunt for Logan, but they may find that they have common ground with him when the town’s dark secrets come to the surface.

Green Arrow writer Ben Percy scripted Wolverine: The Long Night for director Brendan Baker. In addition to Armitage, the cast is headlined by Celia Keenan-Bolger as Agent Pierce and Ato Essandoh as Agent Marshall, with Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Scott Adsit, Bob Balaban, Brian Stokes Mitchell, and more in supporting roles.

Wolverine: The Long Night will premiere on Stitcher Premium on March 12 before getting a wider release on all podcast platforms this fall.

Episode 545: Culture Wars

Posted By on January 30, 2018

With Jack neck deep in exams and semester two, David presents our feature show episodes one and two of the popular podcast Blood Culture by Lance Dann.