Analysing radio drama (research)
We combine two university disciplinary ways of looking at radio plays and radio - from HUMANITIES and from the SOCIAL SCIENCES. (From Humanities) close analysis of the text, quality judgement on the text (aesthetics), analysis of acting, directing and radio's scenography, techniques of production (formalist aspects). (From the Social Sciences - media studies and cultural studies) reception (by an audience), and the political economy approach (broadcasting institutions - who made this broadcast and why), and ideological deconstruction. See commodification. What are the aesthetic (aesthetics), economic, institutional and narrative requirements of this radio play under analysis? What is the ability of the director and the playwright and the actors to pull the audience into a story, and get them involved with the narrative and characters? What vocabulary do you need for analysing these sound pictures? We can use some terms from film and visual images - such as colours, contrast, texture, focus, perspective - but beware of crude visualism (importing inappropriate visual terminology). See Aurality as central to radio theory
Divide into these big areas :
text - context formalism - techniques - production - post-production reception (by an audience) political economy approach (broadcasting institutions) ideological deconstruction
· CONTEXT AND THE POLITICAL ECONOMY APPROACH: the socio-historical background to the radio play, economic and political factors that conditioned its making and explain its existence - mostly the B.B.C. or independent production company commissioned by the B.B.C.
· INTERTEXTUALITY AND GENRE: the traditions out of which a given radio play arises - the sorts of cultural quotations it partakes of, the conventions it makes use of, the degree to which it participates in certain specifically national patterns of expression
· FORMALIST ASPECTS (see above) · POLITICAL ECONOMY APPROACH: the institutional positioning of a given radio play, its status in the public sphere in which it is received · OEUVRE: the director and playwright's larger body of work, of which the radio play is part of a larger whole
· TEXT, CONTEXT AND REPRESENTATION OF THE LIFEWORLD: the "work" of the text itself, never forgetting, though, that radio plays issue from a larger extra-radio world
· RECEPTION: the question of a radio play's reception if it is a one-off broadcast (as the BBC Afternoon Play mostly), or if it is a classic (as 'Under Milk Wood' by Dylan Thomas), its reception across time and how this has pre-shaped our own expectations as well as the radio play's place in history · INTERTEXTUALITY: the relation of a text to certain intertexts; these can be directly suggested by a radio play or they can be creative associations suggested by the listener.
Taking the radio play apart
We take the radio play apart into: narrative, characterisation, scenography ('mise en scène'), dialogue, audiences, production in the studio or on location, post-production
THREE PHASES OF PRODUCTION text genre and Types of plays Different voices in a text - discourses authorship and oeuvre Context you are a critic standard production
plot NARRATIVE-NARRATION Taking a scene apart CHARACTERISATION DIRECTING THE ACTOR Working with stereotype and archetype
SCENOGRAPHY or designing the 'scenery' PERSPECTIVE Space and acoustics SOUND CENTRE production in the studio or on location USE OF SYMBOL SYSTEM THROUGH THE PLAY audiences (reception) Philosophy approaches - especially phenomenology
See books on analysing stage plays:
Wallis, Mick, and Shepherd, Simon, Studying Plays, 1998, London: Arnold
See Listening - how people listen
This site is 'Radio Drama - directing, acting, technical, learning & teaching, researching, styles, genres'. See INDEX to navigate also. Complete curriculum of scripts, techniques (acting & directing & post-production & genre styles), advice, sound files - effects and atmoses (with no copyright and so free to use), detailed script commentaries, etc.
Academic material on this site is Alan Beck is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
Learn about radio drama on this site along with my book - Beck, Alan, Radio Acting, London: A & C Black ISBN 0-7136-4631-4 Available on Amazon. CLICK HERE.
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