Friday, January 11, 2019

Guerrilla Theater Radio Hour (one)

Torque & Gooch in "The Shower"
This year marks several notable twenty-five year anniversaries, a lot of stuff happened in 1994.

I directed my first Shakespeare, my wife and I began dating. And on January 28, 1994, the Guerrilla Theater Radio Hour debuted on WRUW 91.1 FM.

We were still producing a weekly political revue in Tremont with (‘ud’s me) four performances every Friday and Saturday, but we had also started messing around with some brief radio dramas for the station during the past year and requested a slot. We got the thirty-minute slot on Friday nights at seven, hence the name.

Any particular episode would be recorded earlier the same week, consisting of a produced episode penned by a member of the company, and gab about recent events. We pretended it was live, despite the fact that we would remind the audience that we would be there at The Actors’ Gym to open the doors for Mind Your Own Business pretty much exactly when the radio show concluded.

No one asked us about it. Maybe they thought we were broadcasting from The Actors’ Gym. Maybe nobody listened.

In order to save time editing we would mix the entire thing in one take. As a result, if something went terribly wrong (like if someone said “shit” like Gooch often did when she was in the booth) we would have to start again from the beginning.

I managed the board, acting as host and basically ‘directing’ the show, partly because I had previous experience working in a radio studio, and also because I am a complete control freak.

Sound Engineer Digit
What is pretty incredible about the dramas themselves is that they sound as good as they do. Torque and I each wrote and produced three (each) at the beginning of 1993, in the Professor Street Theater, using a cassette four-track machine.

We put down the dialog, and mixed in sound effects, inventing some pretty clever noises along the way. Skulls were cracked open, people urinated on the floor, and we created a wonderful homo-erotic dream sequence that took place during an aerial dogfight.

Finally, we were able to experiment with some of the techniques we'd learned working with David Ossman!

In addition to these six episodes, we created nine more the second year, at The Actors’ Gym. These were produced in The Shower, literally one of the gang showers in the basement, with mats hung on the walls and ceiling to soak up echo and a big, ugly, amazing Frankenstein of a door, hand-crafted by Torque. He also composed and performed many original themes..

During this second year I did most of the post-production, which was more out of a desire to get them done very fast than anything else. Torque was disappointed with how I started using sound effects CDs instead of creating our own sounds. I will not disagree that the hand-made sound effects always did sound better than the pre-recorded ones.

Next up: The Episodes!

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