Underground Radio Theatre of the Air presents “Westenra”


Underground Radio Theatre performs “Westenra” October 8 in the Jewel Theater. Photo courtesy of Bao Nguyen (‘26).

On October 7 and 8, in the Center for Fine Art’s Jewel Theatre, the Underground Radio Theatre of the Air presented the play “Westenra”, written by Lauren Siems (‘24). “Westenra” was adapted from the novel “Dracula” by Bram Stoker. The play, presented as a live radio show, follows the life of Lucy Westenra, a young woman who was Count Dracula’s first English victim. 


“The Underground Radio Theatre of the Air is what we call the students in this class’s theatre production studio,” Siems said. “It’s a 300-level class for theatre majors and minors, juniors and seniors. This is the second year we’ve done a radio show for it. The mission statement is to give the students the experience of voice acting and putting on a production.”


Siems’ inspiration behind writing this play was from the 125th anniversary of “Dracula”. She found the story of Lucy particularly fascinating, and wanted to bring a fresh perspective to new audiences.


“I was researching [the story], and Lucy is [one of the] characters [representing] female sexuality at the time, so I just thought it was a really intriguing story,” Siems said. “I didn’t think that many people in our age group would be familiar with it.” 


Unlike traditional plays, the setting of “Westenra” is different due to its nature as a live radio show. Siems explains that rather than interacting with each other, actors read off the scripts and create sounds using available props.


“In the [1930s], people would sit in a radio studio,” Siems said. “In our instance, it was in front of the audience. What happens is the actors stand there with their scripts so they don’t have to memorize their lines. There are also sound cues, and the sound cues are also done live.”


For the student actors, this is a unique opportunity for them to try voice acting. For Tollef Currell (‘26), starring as Arthur in the production, the emotion of the role appealed to him.


“I was the lover of Ms. Lucy Westenra,” Currell said. “When Lucy passed away, [Arthur] was obviously going through a lot of distress. [Therefore,] I found it really fun and engaging to embody the guy who’s trying to keep it together because he’s very high class, but he’s still going through a lot.”


This experience of listening to the live radio show was new to many in the audience. One such audience member was Cammie Leer (‘26). Leer found the show interesting and unique despite not anticipating much beforehand.


“I really liked the aspect of not watching anything through visuals,” Leer said. “Originally, I wasn’t so sure about it just because it was something I wasn’t used to. But after watching it for a while, I really enjoyed it.”


For Siems, this play is a valuable opportunity for people to expand their imagination and immerse themselves more in the story. She hopes that people will enjoy watching theatre more in the future.


“I hope that it inspires people to use their imaginations more,” Siems said. “I feel like when people go to the theatre, they should allow themselves to be invested in the story, and I think that there are a lot of emotions to be invested in.”


Student performances will return to the Jewel Theater on October 22 with SPIN Cabaret: “Lights, Camera, Cabaret: From Blockbuster to Broadway”. Tickets will be available at the door.