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     English Wordplay ~ Listen and Enjoy

Workshops for Writing, Acting and Directing Audio Drama, Comedy and Documentaries.


Silhouette of Eleonore von Breuning
click here for youtube
on Radio drama

Many major dramatists of the Twentieth Century perfected their craft in Radio, for example: Samuel Beckett, Robert Bolt, the Coen brothers, Lee Hall, Arthur Miller, Anthony Minghella, John Mortimer, Harold Pinter, Tom Stoppard, Dylan Thomas, Rose Tremain and Fay Weldon.

click here to listen

The same is true of actors.  Listen to Vincent Price, the horror movie - and excellent radio - actor speak about the importance and wonders of Radio Drama.  This interview took place in Chicago in 1971.

Read excerpts from the plays in red, while listening to the audio.  Click on the headings.

1. Beginning Your Play

Radio is not a captive medium.  Enchant and enthral your listener within the first two minutes or she will switch off.

The Disagreeable Oyster by Giles Cooper

2. Some Amusing Mistakes

Listen to as many Bad Plays as Possible.  It could be fun.  Learn what not to do.

This Gun in My Right Hand is Loaded; Scene 1 by Timothy West

3. Microphone Technique

The ALOUD voice and the THOUGHT voice.

Hard of Hearing by Colin Haydn Evans

4. Who or What Does the Talking?

Be a Monkey or a Parrot.  Different Narrators.

Song of the Forest by Tina Pepler and Lobby Talk by Juliet Ace and Vic Aiken

5. How Many Characters?

How not to confuse your listener - and how not to go way over budget.

This Gun in My Right Hand is Loaded; Scene 2 by Timothy West

6. What Makes a Radio Play?

The Differences between Radio and Other Media

Babylon is Fallen by John Fletcher

7. Music in Radio Drama

Music Can Capture Emotions and Images

Symphonic Variations by Bruce Stewart and Hot Rubber or Death on the Motorway by John Fletcher

8. The Elements of Radio - Your Kitbag

Language, Sound Effects, Music and Silence.

The Hole in the Top of the World by Fay Weldon

9. Recorded Sound Effects

Establishing them and making them effective

Arthur Halfshaft the Man by Alick Rowe

10. Spot Effects

Have fun and be inventive.

This page was inspired by Andrew Lawrence, an excellent BBC Studio Manager

11. Children

Your First Radio Play  -  Writing for Children  -  and Angels.

I Luv U Jimmy Spud by Lee Hall

12. Being Stylish for Discriminating Listeners

Total Listening on BBC Radio 3

Easy Traumas by Tina Pepler

13. Stucturing a Radio Play

The building blocks.

The World Walk by Jonathan Smith

14. Radio Plays as Poetry

Censorship and Script Layout.

Winston in Europe by Peter Tinniswood

15. Dramatization

How different the play is from prose.

Joseph Andrews by Henry Fielding, dramatized by John Scotney

16. Building a Documentary 1

Do it yourself - a personal odyssey.

The Field of the Star by Shaun and Seamus MacLoughlin

17. Building a Documentary 2

All the elements going into the history of a nation.

Australia Episode 13: Lucky Country?  by Mike Walker

18. Comedy 1

How to win awards.  Comedy is a serious business.

Crisp and Even Brightly  by Alick Rowe

19. Comedy 2

How to laugh at yourself.  A gradual smile of recognition.

The Non-conforming Non-conformist  by Geoffrey Parkinson

20. Selling to the BBC

A success story

The Flower Room dramatized by Shaun MacLoughlin from Leaving Mother Lake by Christine Mathieu and Yang Erche Namu


In radio 'the pictures are better' (small boy), 'the colours are brighter' (another small boy), 'a man can sit on a circular saw in outer space' (Arthur Askey), 26 men can fit inside a sardine tin, or the beach at Southend goes up down while the sea stays still (Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy).

You can have a cast of thousands, can travel as fast as the imagination through space and time and can explore the mind of a man, animal, flower or inanimate object.

Radio is different from the other dramatic media in that, paradoxically, it is more visual.

As writer, director, actor you have to master the precise and evocative use of language supported by music, sound effects, acoustic and silence to achieve feelings and pictures.

As a result of listening to these excerpts and following the exercises you should be well placed to write, direct and perform the beginning of your first radio play or to improve those you are already working on.

Actors: remember that the microphone is a lie detector.  If you are not thinking or feeling the line before you speak it the listener will be alienated by your lack of truth and reality.

As director and performer:

  1. First have read-throughs and rehearsals of the excerpts - or better still of your own scripts.
  2. Perform and record the plays.
  3. Post produce using editing software.
  4. Burn your own plays onto a CD and / or upload onto your website

To know more about the above read:
First Edition 1998 Second Edition 2001 Third Edition 2004 Fourth Edition 2008 with a new chapter on acting for radio

Amazon Customers

Click here for opportunity for FREE student Voice CD

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The Well Tempered Audio Dramatist

We recommend:   The Well-tempered Audio Dramatist by Yuri Rasovsky, a Guide to the Production of Audio Plays in Twenty-first Century America.  The book features chapters on every aspect of audio drama production including Project Management, Microphone Techniques, Casting and Sound Effects. You can read the entire text online at The United States National Audio Theatre Festivals..

Another very useful website is byAlan Beck, author of Acting Radio, which you wil find below.

We also recommend the following, which can ordered from Amazon.co.uk :

We also recommend the following radio scripts: Polaris by Fay Weldon in Best Radio Plays of 1978, I Never Killed My German and Of the Levitation at St Michael's by Carey Harrison in A Suffolk Trilogy, The Village Fete by Peter Tinniswood in Best Radio Plays of 1987, Cigarettes and Chocolate by Anthony Minghella in Best Radio Plays of 1988, Death and the Tango by John Fletcher and Song of the Forest by Tina Pepler in Best Radio Plays of 1990 and In the Native State by Tom Stoppard in Best Radio Plays of 1991.  Sadly some of these scripts are out of print.  However you should be able to order them from your local library

We also recommend the recording of Lee Hall's wonderful first radio play, I Luv U Jimmy Spud.  Lee went on to write the screenplay of Billy Elliot.