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KWLC’s “War of the Worlds”

Elena Fackler (‘22) and Sakchham Karki (‘20) use kitchen pots to modify their voices for the broadcast.

Elena Fackler (‘22) and Sakchham Karki (‘20) use kitchen pots to modify their voices for the broadcast.

Sophie Nall (‘22) | Chips

Sophie Nall (‘22) | Chips

Elena Fackler (‘22) and Sakchham Karki (‘20) use kitchen pots to modify their voices for the broadcast.

Sophie Nall, Staff Writer

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On Oct. 31, the Luther College Visual and Performing Arts Department took the Marty’s stage at 9pm for a live production of “War of The Worlds”, a 1938 radio drama originally narrated by Orson Welles. The show is a fictional account of an alien invasion in New Jersey and the panic that ensues in response. Keeping true to the original form of the show, the Luther production was also broadcasted live on KWLC Radio.

The War of The Worlds was a novel written by H.G. Wells in 1898, and then adapted for radio in 1938 by Welles. It was widely reported at the time that the broadcast caused mass panic, as many people believed the reports of an alien invasion were real. Investigations found that much of the panic may have been exaggerated by print media in order to discredit the integrity of radio as a means for obtaining news.

Professor of Theatre and Director of “War of The Worlds” Jeff Dintaman chose this radio drama to be performed through the VPA.

“[The original] company was made up of actors that performed professional live theatre, but they also did [a] radio show,” Dintaman said. “We wanted to explore that sort of outlet, letting our students experience what it’s like to be a voice actor, which is different than a physical actor that uses their voice. What does it mean for someone [to only hear] you, as opposed to watching you?”

The actors stood at microphones and read from their scripts, often transforming their voices both physically and with props. Some spoke into small paper cups for vocal modification and some yelled into large cooking pots to achieve the desired voice effects for the performance.

Sophie Nall (‘22) | Chips
Daniel Suhr (‘20) played Announcer Two B and used a tin can to modify his voice.

These modifiers altered their voices to make them sound more distant, create echoes, or make it seem as if there was static or disconnect in the radio waves. Dintaman helped his actors learn to use their voices for radio performance.

“We did a lot of read-throughs and we also recorded [the actors] early on so they could listen to themselves to see what they sounded like,” Dintaman said. “That helped [them] discover the difference between physical acting and radio acting.”

Burke Wallace (‘22) played the role of a radio announcer who periodically updated the audience with new information on the alien invasion. Wallace had to discover how to modify his voice for the performance.

Sophie Nall (‘22) | Chips
Ridley Skylar (‘22) played radio host Carl Phillips.

“[I had to] figure out what works well and what doesn’t,” Wallace said. “We took multiple recordings before we did the show, and [through this process] I decided to choose a higher tone with my voice to sound more like a radio announcer and to sound more upbeat.”

Audience member Clare Rolinger (‘22) enjoyed the performance.

“I’ve never had the opportunity to witness a radio production like that,” Rolinger said. “I loved being able to see the behind-the-scenes of the production, [like] how the different sound effects were made.”

While the performance that took place at Luther did not incite the panic that was said to have occurred in 1938, it did add to Halloween festivities.

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