Parson’s Nose Theater (PNT) known for introducting fun, condensed, broad-stroke, professional presentations of classic comedies by Shakespeare, Moliere, Goldoni, Shaw, Belasco, Grimm, Hans Anderson, Goldsmith, Perrault, Boucicault and others, has adapted its programming into “Radio Theater of The Air”, an on-demand series to be enjoyed as a podcast for fans who cannot gather in the theater due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Although already in the works, the shut-down of theaters around the country put the Radio Theater of the Air podcast project into overdrive. The program actually represents PNT returning to its “unplugged” roots as the series is inspired by experiences over the years with PNT’s Readers’ Theater and Radio Drama series. The timing was also right to bring on professional sound designer Dave Bennet to polish each episode.
Co-founders Mary Chalon and Lance Davis lead the way, writing and performing the initial scripts and music along with company core members, Barry Gordon, John Rafter Lee, Jill Rogosheske, and Paul Perri. With sixteen more works to record, the rest of the company will join in as the program expands.
The first long-form series released was Kenneth Graham’s “The Wind in The Willows”, a classic of English children’s literature performed in five episodes. Set along the River Thames in 1907, the tales follow the adventures of animal friends Mr. Mole, Rat, Toad and Badger.
The Radio Theater of the Air series will release two productions per month, having recently released “Taste of Shakespeare”. Then more PNT classics of Moliere, Perrault, Dickens, and Hans Canderson, such as Cinderella/Cendrillon, A Christmas Carol, Rip Van Winkle, Frederick Douglass, as well as entries from The New Play Series and The Women’s Project, will follow. Davis says he is also adapting Dickens’ timely “Hard Times” for the series, released in serial chapter form as was the original.
“It’s been hysterically funny getting actors with greatly varied technical skills rowing together.” Said Davis of recording remotely. “Of course we miss live theater. We’re stage actors and that’s what we do. But it’s been great fun and a challenge to take our Radio Theater and Readers’ Theater series on the air. We can even present the pre-show educational chats, which we’ve gotten great response to. We want to deepen both the educational (not just for kids) and entertainment experience.”
PNT’s mission has always been to make the classics more accessible to modern audiences and that has required PNT to harness new technology to stay on mission. “The classics are stories that have endured because they speak illuminating truths to each generation, containing the richest language, characters and plots in our culture. They are about families,” says Davis. “In the classics, the joys and problems of 17th Century families form a bridge to the 21st. We realize we are, and have always been, part of the same human family. The classics are gold mines of imagery, wit, poetry and characters that can be plundered anew each time we enter. We have tons of material and we’re loving the chance to revisit and re-present in the new format. At PNT we’re good, we’re creative and we’re agile.”
All episodes are available from Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Anchor, Breaker, Spotify, and Radio Public and are free to listen. Streaming now are “Wind in the Willows”, “The Taste of Shakespeare”, “Mark Twain’s Advice to Young Ladies”, “A Timeline and Reading of The Declaration of Independence”, “The Summoning of Everyman”, “The Tale of Noah’s Ark”.