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!

June 2018
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Absinthe Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Posted By on March 15, 2018

This Saturday night, March 17th,  St. Patrick’s Day celebrations kick into high gear as the Jules Verne Phantastical Society presents, Cabaret Absinthe. And evening of fun and frivolity at Maritime Hall in Halifax!

Doors open at 8:00 PM and the fun begins at 8:30 PM. Ticket prices are $12.50 each or two for twenty! Proceeds go to the not-for-profit club! Oh, and there’s a bar for Patty refreshments.

What kind of fun will be had? Funny you should ask? Among the events, the amazing Shadowlands Theatre Players will be presenting another My Friend Irma script for the occasion starring and reprising in their roles with Colleen MacIssac as Jane and Ali House as the unsinkable Irma. Keith Morrison will also be returning as Irma’s no account boy friend Al, and Guy Earle will be rounding up the gang with some new roles for the performance. The show will be recorded live to be played on this year’s Sonic Summerstock Playhouse!

Have fun and go green!

Master of Runes, Master of Sound- Lothar Tuppan gets Mystical

Posted By on March 15, 2018

Weird Web Radio brings on audio dramatic master draftsman and actor- Lothar Tuppan to talk about one of his other great passions. His work as a storyteller and Rune Guild Master!

Take some time and listen to our brother Lothar weave magic!



Episode 551: Magus Koi

Posted By on March 13, 2018

Tonight we complete the exciting Chow for the Koi  by Nick Cox but first begin with the new fantasy series Magus Elgar 1- The Mirror Cauldron from Kennedy Phillips.  David gives us the latest update to his No Sleep Live Podcast tour. Audio Drama, it’s magic!

Episode 550: Chow Time

Posted By on March 6, 2018

Tonight Nick Cox’s modern classic Chow for the Koi is the tank as we continue the eight-part series. David gives us the latest update to his No Sleep Live Podcast tour. Audio Drama, it’s healthy for you!

Episode 549: Dark Vitals

Posted By on February 27, 2018

Tonight Mark Slade’s impressive Blood Noir Episode 4 along with the first two in the series of Chow for the Koi from Nick Cox should keep your audio hunger fed for another week!

Better to Burn Out…

Posted By on February 27, 2018

The Guardian has a wonderful article about the importance of radio drama in Africa. No other medium is so important for a diverse society. Television and movies still remain within the reach of the relatively wealthy. Storytellers may reign as the most fundamental speakers of tales, but only radio drama has the power to reach masses with the least amount of cost, and the greatest of impact. The theatre of the mind is the most powerful medium of messages (if you ask us) and it’s time to make certain that the word remains loud and strong across this good Earth.

From How Radio Drama is Gradually Fading Away:

For decades, radio stations adopted radio drama across the globe to promote socially-conscious messages among the people such as health issues, anti-corruption, child labour and other campaigns to educate and engage the public. This is because of radio’s capacity to reach a wider audience irrespective of the intellectual background.

The importance of radio drama in the 21st Century cannot be overemphasised, especially in countries where freedom of expression is suppressed, access to technology is expensive or illiteracy rate is high. Radio continues to play an important role in information sharing.

In radio drama, voice is the only impression listeners have of the characters, and it gives the listeners room to imagine and create mental picture of the scenes. Radio programmes often leave lasting impressions more than TV programmes or films can.

 According to a baseline survey conducted in 2010 and 2011 in such cities as Abuja, Benin, Ibadan, Ilorin, Kaduna and Zaria by Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (NURHI) and Measurement, Learning & Evaluation (MLE) Project, among women, radio is an important source of family planning information. More than 57 per cent of women with knowledge of family planning at baseline received family planning messages through radio campaigns.

However, in Nigeria it appears that radio drama is gradually fading out of the airwaves, with live programming dominating most of the broadcast fare, as noted by veteran radio dramatist and broadcaster, Mr. Lindsay Barrett.

Riotous Review

Posted By on February 25, 2018

The Guardian produced an article asking what was happening in The week in radio and podcasts: Riot Girls; Between the Ears: A Cow a Day.

Miranda Sawyer has problems with much of the dialogue in modern audio dramas. Here’s a snippet of her article:

Radio drama. Oh God. I try, really I do, but so much of it leaves me either rigid with boredom or seething with irritation, madly stomping round the park yelping “No one talks like this!” at the dog. And BBC radio drama is the worst. It’s all so written. Which would be fine, if the writing were taken to a poetic extreme, if the playwrights used rhythm and rhyme and pause and imagery in the way of Harold Pinter or Philip Ridley or Sarah Kane or debbie tucker green. But when you’re listening to something that’s meant to be natural and you can hear the tap-tap of computer keys running through? That’s not good. Plus, it’s not enough to have a neat concept, a contemporary idea to be examined. Journalists have those. Playwrights should take such concepts and ideas and tear them apart, stab them in the stomach, watch them scab over and then pick at the wound. Not just place everybody in sitcom positions and offer us the hilarious consequences.

Gah. Sorry. It’s just I was looking forward to Radio 4’s Riot Girls last week. The tagline reads thus: “Series of no-holds-barred dramas written by women, featuring extraordinary female characters and their lives.” Perhaps an ancient queen, a sporting heroine, a political revolutionary, a working warrior? Perhaps not…

Let’s be positive. The dramatic adaptations of Margaret Atwood’s The Robber Bride and Doris Lessing’s The Good Terrorist (Yes! Revolutionaries!) were fine – though of course the books are far better – but some of the specially commissioned drama was woeful. Which just goes to show that even good writers – and these plays were all written by good writers – struggle with radio plays.

How do you feel about audio dramatic dialogue? Do you think it should be more realistic or heightened in some way?

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.


Therapeutic Theatre

Posted By on February 24, 2018

Relief Web International explores the value of socially active radio drama considering specifically Syrian refugees. Charlotte Eagar writes about an incredible program from The Trojan Woman Project called Queens of Syria:

Two Syrian women are arguing into a microphone. “I don’t want to see anyone,” Fatima shouts at Reem. “You invited him! You sort it out!” Beside them, Nancy, an elegant Scottish lady of a certain age, says quietly: “Very good! I think that’s it!”

The women grin with relief. Mohammed, the Syrian director, and Sean, the local producer from Aberdeen’s SHMU community radio, give the thumbs up.

This row, although not real, was inspired by real events. Fatima and Reem* are part of a group of Syrian refugees in Aberdeen who spent two weeks making a radio drama based on their lives.

In a local recording studio in a local community centre, the project comes to a climax. As the Syrians — men in black leather jackets, women in Hijabs and sparkly cardigans — mutter over their scripts, local Aberdeen girls in Fuchsia tights pick their way past to dancing class.

Welcome to Kaleidoscope, a therapeutic audio-drama and awareness project for Syrian refugees, part-funded by the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and AMAL, and hosted by Aberdeen City Council. Kaleidoscope is just one of the therapy and advocacy projects run by the Trojan Women Project, a group that has, since 2013, been managing similar projects in Jordan and Europe.

Kaleidoscope began with an Arabic production of Euripides’ Trojan Women, with an all-female cast of Syrian refugees, through which the women reworked their stories of exile and loss into the text. That play toured the UK in 2016 with the Young Vic theatre company as ‘Queens of Syria.’

‘The World to Hear,’ a film about the ‘Queens of Syria’ tour – directed by Charlotte Ginsborg and Anatole Sloan – is being shown at the 2018 Glasgow Film Festival Friday.

Since 2013, the Trojan Women Project has run numerous projects, including the first Arabic adaption of the musical ‘Oliver!’ with a cast of Syrian refugee children. In 2014, they created a radio drama set in Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp — based loosely on the long running BBC radio soap opera ‘the Archers’ — which was broadcast on BBC Arabic and BBC Radio 4.

“We want people in Britain to understand why we are here.”

Trojan Women is also currently running a music project, ‘If Music be the Food of Love,’ in Jordan with Syrian and local children, backed by the World Food Programme.

Kaleidoscope is the group’s on-going drama project, culminating in a series of radio pieces. It has run workshops in Glasgow and Heidelberg as well as Aberdeen. The Aberdeen episodes will be broadcast in Arabic, by SHMU, a local community radio station, as well as Arabic radio stations. After this, the refugees will work on the English language version of the scripts to record later this year. This will be broadcast on SHMU; BBC Radio Scotland is making a documentary about the project.

“It’s very important to have the script in English,” says Khaled, one of the eight refugee men in this stage of the project. “We want people in Britain to understand why we are here.” He and his brother fled to Lebanon from Homs after seeing their parents killed by a barrel bomb. They were resettled to the UK.

This part of the project started a year ago. Thirty Syrians and five Aberdonians came together in a Methodist Church to be taught how to write episodic radio drama. The initial workshops were led by Liz Rigbey, former editor of ‘the Archers.’ Mohammed Abou Laban and Liwaa Yazjii, an experienced Syrian husband and wife team, are part of the writing and directing team. Kaleidoscope plans similar workshops in Glasgow and then abroad.

The Syrians, all of whom had arrived in Scotland as part of the UK’s resettlement scheme, divided into four groups; three of men, one for the women, each under a writer-trainer. For three days, they shared their stories with the group, then improvised scripts from their experiences. Each group then acted out their stories for the class. The stories were about family members stuck in Syria; children trying to reunite with parents; the isolation of life in Scotland, solved by one group of young men buying bicycles; and refugees trying to send medicine to siblings with rare genetic medical conditions in Lebanon.

The project aims to help Syrians work their way through the trauma and isolation of exile, and spread understanding and awareness of the refugee crisis, through drama. Of 30 Syrians involved, 10 volunteered for a fortnight’s drama and recording workshop. Led by Mohammed, they created two, 20-minute pilot episodes, based on the strongest storylines.

Fatima’s story was a main plotline: she and her young husband tried to get his brother out of Syria. Just 18, the brother was to be drafted into the army, but could not legally be brought to the UK. They tried to raise funds to have the brother smuggled out, but he was killed before leaving. Fatima’s marriage collapsed under the strain. Her husband, grief-stricken, turned to drink but remains nearby. She was left alone in Aberdeen, with two small children. Fatima was then taken up by the single mums in her apartment block. “I don’t understand anything they say,” she says. “I keep finding I’ve agreed to things without meaning to — like going swimming!”

“Now we have a whole new family”

Read more in the article! Audio Drama changing lives!

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”!