The booming theater department here at Bates has a solid history of student directors. This semester, Sam Wheeler ’17 is directing a radio play entitled “They Fly through the Air with the Greatest of Ease” by Norman Corwin. It is an independent study for his directing track in the Theater major.
A radio drama is a play produced solely for audio enjoyment and produced via radio stations, like a podcast. Wheeler is taking this original radio play and transforming it for the stage by adapting the script to add stage directions and other elements that contextualize a play. To prepare for this endeavor, he read 25 radio plays this summer.
“These shows were done a while ago, and I fear that they have been forgotten about and/or are not recognized by today’s population. By bringing this type of medium and taking it to a place that people today are more familiar with, I hope to draw interest in these radio shows from my audience,” he said. Wheeler proposed the idea to Michael Reidy, Senior Lecturer of Theater, who approved the idea for an independent study credit.
“The show confronts issues of war, destruction, and shame, and is as relevant today as it was first presented in 1939,” said Wheeler. “It explores three parts of life as we know it that will never change: life, death, and war. The world around us has changed drastically since 1939, yet these three ideas continue to occur. I have adapted the script from the radio to the stage as part of this process.”
Wheeler gives credit and gratitude to the Theater Department as he continues to develop his project. “The entire department has been wonderful in this endeavor. From the technical aspect with Michael Reidy and Justin Moriarty, to design with Christine McDowell, I have had a lot of people help me along the way,” he notes.
One man in particular has been especially helpful. Cory Hinkle, Visiting Lecturer in Theater, is acting as Wheeler’s advisor for this project. “We started conversation via e-mail over the summer before he had even gotten to campus and he has been incredibly supportive of me through this entire process,” Wheeler said. “It has been really important to me to have a good relationship with an advisor who wants this to be as successful as I do.”
Wheeler held auditions on September 13th and 14th, where he casted five actors: Nick Muccio ‘16, Michael Driscal ‘19, Tricia Crimmins ‘19, Claire Sullivan ‘19, and Becca Havian ‘19. He casted Jason Ross ’19 as stage manager, who is “always there with positive words and coffee” whenever Wheeler is in need of some motivation.
Developing something that has never been done at Bates can be an overwhelming and nerve-wracking experience. However, Wheeler states that he’s not “nervous about anything in this process. I would say that any nervousness is channeled through excitement for me. I guess I am just really excited about producing something different at Bates, something that has not been done before. It’s going to be such a great process and it’s only just starting.”
The show will be performed in the Black Box Theater on November 13th and 14th at 7:30pm and November 15th at 2:00pm.