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Live sound effects .. Timaru director Stefanie Crawford holds a bin and clipboard as sound props to make gunfire noises during radio plays. PHOTO: NATASHA PARRANT

by Natasha Parrant

A Timaru director wants actors, sound-effect specialists and pianists to audition for two radio plays.

South Canterbury Drama League director Stefanie Crawford said the league was putting on two one-act plays, which will run from August 18 to 22 at The Playhouse.

The league’s little theatre section chairwoman Kim Rogers said the first act would be a comedic live radio play called The 39 Steps, written by Joe Landry and inspired by film director Alfred Hitchcock.

The second act would be a performance of the infamous 1938 radio production of The War of the Worlds.

Based on the H.G. Wells novel about alien invasion, the adapted radio script frightened listeners, who thought it was really happening, and made a star of director and performer Orson Welles.

The radio plays would be acted out on stage just as it was in the 1930s and 1940s, Ms Rogers said.

Actors used big facial expressions, so a live audience could see it from their seats.

“A radio play was always more than just the words,” Ms Crawford said.

Actors also played multiple roles by changing their accent, tone and speed of voice.

“It is a skill to be able to manipulate your voice and give the audience the impression that you are more than one person.”

Musicians were at the back of a small stage in a small theatre such as The Playhouse, Ms Crawford said.

The background music was used to set a mood or to accompany a singer.

There were also sound-effects specialists who used props to create sound on stage, known as Foley artists.

Often the sound was created by objects not normally associated with the sound, she said.

A leather glove being waved could represent a bird flapping its wings or a nail being dragged down a piece of glass could resemble car tyres screeching.

Auditions are coming up on June 10 from 7pm to 9pm and June 12 from 10am to 2pm at The Playhouse.

Ms Crawford said if anyone was interested in acting, training to be a Foley artist or were piano they should come audition to bring “these plays to life