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Writing and Producing a Radio Drama

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Writing and producing a radio drama is a way to integrate all language skills into a real-life activity. It is an activity that can stimulate the student's imagination and uncover a power long hidden in many studentsCthe urge to create.

Steps involved in adapting a story

Let students listen to a radio drama with writing (and perhaps producing) their own radio play in mind. The writing and producing steps are:

  1. Select a story.

  2. Read and study the story.

  3. Decide upon any changes to be made in setting (time/place), characters, etc.

  4. Divide the story into sections, with each section relating a specific time, place, or event).

  5. Adapt each section of the story into script format (use the format below as a model).

  6. Decide upon and insert sound effects directions into the script.

  7. Let the individual (or group) cast and present the script to the class. The presentation can be done as a readers= theatre production with simple manual sound effects and perhaps recorded background sounds and music.

Some notes on sound effects (SFX)

Be careful that students don=t get carried away and include too many sounds. Sound effects should support the story and suggest action. Too many sound effects may detract from the story. Sound effects that must be timed precisely with the dialog should be done manuallyCa knock on the door, for instance. Sound effects that serve as background or mood may be recorded earlier and played back on a boom-box (or 2, or even 3) fading in and out as needed. To avoid rewinding tapes, be sure to record several minutes of each background effect. You may wish to record your music on CDs and use boom-boxes with CD players.

Recommended Equipment

Minimal Equipment (without recording) If you want to produce radio dramas/reader=s theatre productions for an audience with background SFX, you can make do with the following:

  1. Boom-boxes (two or more, for music and recorded ambient SFX).

  2. One microphone for actors (with amplifier and speakers if performing for a large audience).

Minimal Equipment (with recording) If you are on a tight budget, but still would like to record the productions, you can make do with this equipment setup:

  1. Boom-boxes (two or more, for music and recorded ambient SFX).

  2. Tape recorder with microphone jack.

  3. One microphone (for actors, omni-directional is best).

  4. Microphone cable (match to the jacks on the recorder).

The following equipment is recommended if you plan to do full-blown radio drama productions:

  1. Audio mixer.

  2. Boom-boxes (two or more, for music and ambient SFX).

  3. Three-head cassette deck.

  4. Three mic stands (two with boom extensions).

  5. One omni-directional microphone (for actors).

  6. Two unidirectional microphones (one for manual SFX, one for recorded SFX).

  7. Two RCA cables (between mixer and three-head cassette deck).

  8. Three microphone cables (match to the jacks on the mixer).

Complete instructions for writing and producing radio dramas in the classroom are available in our publication: Theatre of the Mind, Writing and Producing Radio Dramas in the Classroom

Script Format
Information Sheet
(This information sheet is from Theatre of the Mind.)

 

Script Format Description:

  1. Font size is 12. Use a font style that is easy to read. This font is Times New Roman.
  2. Scene headings are centered and in UPPERCASE.
  3. Setting notations are UPPERCASE, [bracketed], and centered on the line below the scene heading.
  4. Sound effect notations are UPPERCASE and underlined. The label starts at the left margin, is followed by a colon, a hard left indent, and the sound effect description.
  5. Character labels are UPPERCASE followed by a colon and a hard return.
  6. Character lines are lowercase with appropriate caps.
  7. Stage directions and character interpretation notations are UPPERCASE enclosed in (parentheses).

SCENE TWO

[INSIDE SPACESHIP]

SOUND ONE: FADE IN SPACESHIP BACKGROUND.

MANUAL SOUND A: AN ALARM GOING OFF.

ALDO:
(REPEAT THIS SPEECH UNTIL RON COMPLETES THE WORDS "ALDO, MESSAGE UNDERSTOOD" THEN STOP IMMEDIATELY.) Attention, Teriallia! Attention, Rontar! Navigational details accomplished. Ship has been prepared for landing. Awaiting landing orders. (CONTINUE UNTIL INTERRUPTED BY RON) Attention, Teriallia! Attention, Rontar! Navigational details accomplished. Ship has been pre…

MANUAL SOUND A: CUT ALARM.

RON:
(INTERRUPTING ALDO, AS THOUGH WAKING FROM SLEEP) Okay, okay, don't fry your circuits, Aldo, message understood. (YAWNING)

TERI:
Aldo, describe the terrain around the landing site?

ALDO:
Landing site is 3.23 kilometers from the perimeter of the selected habitation complex. Terrain is uneven and covered with vegetation. Level landing site is in a clearing at one of the lower points in the area. Atmospheric content: Nitrogen 75.03, Oxygen 21.96, Argon 1.92, Carbon Dioxide 0.01. Insignificant trace elements of Neon, Helium, Methane, Krypton, Hydrogen, Xenon, and Ozone.

Copyright 8 1998
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Last modified: June 04, 2015