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UAlbany Student Actors Recreate Radio Drama of the 1940s

Contact: Karl Luntta (518) 437-4980

ALBANY, N.Y. (November 15, 2004) -- University at Albany students and faculty and two local sound effects producers have recreated an icon of the glory days of radio programs. "The FBI in Action: Recreating an Original 1940s Radio Drama" will be staged Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. in the Recital Hall of the Performing Arts Center, uptown campus. The performance is part of a two-day conference, "Researching New York 2004: Perspectives on Empire State History," to be held at UAlbany Nov. 18-19.

The idea for the radio drama came to self-described “radio buff” and history professor Ivan Steen after he interviewed the two local women, Dorothy Sweeney and Margaret “Peg” Miller, about their work as sound effects producers for radio in the 1940s.

For casting and directing the radio drama, Steen turned to Kristina Bendikas, a voiceover artist who teaches voice in UAlbany’s department of theatre. She cast seven student actors who presented a variety of vocal types, as well as those who had good ‘cold reading’ skills. “This is a wonderful project for many reasons,” said Bendikas. “Radio drama, like voiceovers, requires actors who can just jump right into a character without the benefit of physical movement and interaction. Since the actors don't memorize their lines, their eyes are on the script, rather than on the other actors. Each actor remains self-contained physically, but must find a way to connect. I think that's where good listening skills and a vivid imagination help.”

The radio drama will be as authentic as possible - Sweeney and Miller will produce sound effects, and organist Ned Spain will provide musical bridges between scenes. According to Steen, there will be a few differences between the 1943 version and today’s. Modern microphones will be used since vintage studio equipment couldn’t be located. The cast will wear business attire for the performance, as the men and women in the original production would have. There will be no soundproof studio booth, but the show will play before a live audience. Some photos of the original "FBI in Action" actors may be on display.

The Researching New York program, supported by the UAlbany department of history, the New York State Archives Partnership Trust, and the History Students Graduate Organization, was inaugurated in 1999 to bring together local and national historians and others interested in the state's history. In addition to the FBI radio recreation, which has added support from the New York State Writers Institute and the UAlbany theatre department, the 2004 program will include a musical presentation Friday, Nov. 19 at 10:45 a.m. in the Standish Room of the New Library. Musician and history graduate student Ann-Marie Barker Schwartz will discuss her research on the social history of Albany’s Euterpian Club, a 19th century men’s musical club of Albany’s leading citizens, including Stephen Van Rensselaer. Following her talk and comments by Van Rensselaer scholar Carl Westerdahl, The Musicians of Ma’alwyck, with soprano Gene Marie Callahan Kern of the Chicago Lyric Opera, will perform selections from the Club’s 1823-1827 repertoire.

Also part of the Researching New York program is a keynote address by University alumnus and Albany Times Union reporter Paul Grondahl, M.A. ’84, author of the acclaimed biographies I Rose Like a Rocket: The Political Education of Theodore Roosevelt and Mayor Erastus Corning: Albany Icon, Albany Enigma. Other events include the panel discussions Grassroots Albany, Upstate Immigrant Experiences, Colonial New York, and Conspiracies - Real and Imagined. Sessions within these concurrent panels include “Tracing New York State History Through Wine and Grapes,” “The Kinderhook Connection of the Burr/Hamilton Duel,” and “The Parking Lots of Main Street, Catskill, New York.”

"The FBI in Action" and the Albany Euterpian Club presentation are free and open to the public. There is a $30 registration fee for other conference events. For more information, visit http://www.albany.edu/writers.inst/fbi-in-action_radio_play.html or http://nystatehistory.org/researchny.

 


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