A Theater in the Dark’s (formerly Theatre in the Dark) original audio drama adaptation of H.G. Wells’ THE WAR OF THE WORLDS, which originally streamed in October and November of 2020, will return this Halloween season for three live performances – Friday, October 29, Saturday, October 30, and Sunday, October 31, at 8 pm each evening.
The new production, using a streamlined script that will clock in around 70 minutes, will also be recorded and available for listeners for seven days following the three live performances. Corey Bradberry, who co-authored this new adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel with company co-founder Mack Gordon, is again directing, with most of the 2020 cast returning and performing their roles from locations across North America.
Gordon, performing from Vancouver, B.C., will again play H.G. Wells, in this version a 21st century science journalist thrust into the events of an alien invasion after a meteor from the “Red Planet” Mars crashes 70 miles outside Chicago at the start of the new decade. Elizabeth McCoy will again call in from New Orleans to play Wells’ wife Isabel. Ming Hudson, who like Gordon will be performing from Vancouver, returns as Shelly. McCoy’s fellow New Orleanian Robinson J. Cyprian and Chicagoan Lauren Ezzo, who were swings in the previous production, join the full cast and play multiple roles.
Top Row L-R: Lauren Ezzo, Robinson J. Cyprian, Mack Gordon.
Lower Row: Ming Hudson, Elizabeth McCoy, Corey Bradberry.
Bradberry and Gordon’s adaptation is titled A WAR OF THE WORLDS, and while it follows the contours of Wells’ story of a Martian invasion, it moves the action from 1890s England to present day Illinois, with settings in Chicago and other parts of the state. After a meteor from the “Red Planet” Mars crashes outside Chicago at the start of the new decade, the journalist Wells rushes to investigate while his wife Isabel seeks refuge in downtown Chicago. Separated from family, friends, and everything they have ever known, the eclectic cast of Chicagoland characters must do everything in their power to survive as our world comes crashing down around them. As the Martians reveal their deadly Heat-Ray and their true intentions, whirling our characters into hair-raising chases across Chicago, one question remains: is life on Earth doomed?
The three-year-old A Theater in the Dark, dedicated to making theater exclusively through sound, uses the human voice, music, and sound effects in the tradition of the great radio dramas of the 1920s through the 1950s to create this thrilling and suspenseful take on the Wells story.
Bradberry says, “Before the COVID restrictions prohibiting large group gatherings, we had initially planned A WAR OF THE WORLDS to be performed in a completely dark theatre space, as was THREE STORIES UP. Fortunately for us, our company aesthetic of audio-only drama lent itself to the online medium of Zoom-enabled performance and we began to plan the production for an online presentation, with actors and Foley artists performing via Zoom from their home studios in Chicago, New Orleans and Vancouver. A WAR OF THE WORLDS is a virtual audio drama for audiences to enjoy in their own home as people did in the golden age of radio dramas. Audiences will be encouraged to listen to the broadcast in small groups – to relax and settle in a dark space with wine and food before submitting to the horrifying thought of an invasion from another planet.”
A Theater in the Dark’s production again honors the legendary 1938 Orson Welles’ broadcast of THE WAR OF THE WORLDS, though it updates the story, uses current production technology, and employs a contemporary aesthetic. Welles’ Mercury Theater adaptation of the novel was broadcast to a national audience on a Halloween eve - October 30, 1938. Legend has it that Welles’s script, structured as a series of faux news reports, led some listeners to believe the planet was under attack by aliens from another planet. The CBS radio network was flooded with calls from panicked listeners.
The CHICAGO READER’s Kerry Reid called the 2020 production a “stylish and compelling adaptation.” AROUND THE TOWN’s Julia W. Rath said Ben Zucker’s “extraordinary and distinctive sound design and music add to the overall feeling of dread.” Ed Tracy’s PICKS IN SIX praised it as “a fascinating and innovative approach utilizing our ever-evolving pandemic-driven virtual technology to connect us in the moment.” RESCRIPTED called it “cosmic and intimate.”
This will be the sixth production of the three-year-old A Theater in the Dark. Their inaugural production was Gordon’s original noir mystery THREE STORIES UP, performed in person during Fall 2019. They followed that live play with several streaming productions during the pandemic shutdown, beginning with their first production of A WAR OF THE WORLDS in spring 2020 and a reprise engagement of the Wells story in fall 2020; and new productions of A CHRISTMAS CAROL IN THE DARK in December 2020 and A WHITE WHALE OR MOBY DICK in spring 2021. That adaptation of the Herman Melville novel won the top prize of the Critic's Choice Award at the 2021 Atlanta Fringe Festival.
A WAR OF THE WORLDS includes original music and additional sound design by Ben Zucker. Tickets will be pay-what-you-can ($15 suggested donation) and are on sale now at https://www.atheaterinthedark.com/
A Theater in the Dark presents
A WAR OF THE WORLDS
A live online audio play
October 29-31, 2021
Adapted from H.G. Wells novel THE WAR OF THE WORLDS by Mack Gordon and Corey Bradberry
Featuring Lauren Ezzo, Ming Hudson, Elizabeth McCoy, Robinson J. Cyprian, and Mack Gordon
Directed by Corey Bradberry
Original Music by Ben Zucker
Three Performances Only - Friday, October 29 through Sunday, October 31 at 8 pm each evening
Ticket prices pay-what-you-can ($15 per listener recommended)
Tickets and info at www.atheaterinthedark.com
Phone for info only (no ticketing): 312.285.0314
Listeners can choose to virtually attend a live online performance or be sent a link after the first performance to stream anytime for 7 days.
H.G. Wells enters the 21st century as a science journalist thrust into the events of an alien invasion after a meteor from the “Red Planet” Mars crashes 70 miles outside Chicago at the start of the new decade. Separated from family, friends, and everything they have ever known, the eclectic cast of Chicagoland characters must do everything in their power to survive as our world comes crashing down around them. As the Martians reveal their deadly Heat-Ray and their true intentions, whirling our characters into hair-raising chases across Chicago, one question remains: is life on Earth doomed? Come with us into the dark and let your imagination run wild.
COREY BRADBERRY is a Chicago director and a founding producer with Theatre in the Dark, directing both 2019’s THREE STORIES UP and 2020’s THREE STORIES UP: LIVE! ON THE AIR. Corey is a Kennedy Center National Directing Fellow and received the City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affair’s Emerging Artist Award prior to graduate school. Corey has assistant directed with major theatre institutions including the Alliance Theatre, the Kennedy Center, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta History Center, and Chicago’s Second City; in addition to projects with smaller companies including Theatrical Outfit, Flying Carpet Theatre Company, and Artemisia. He has production managed (both live and virtually) with A Red Orchid, Red Tape, and Gus Giordano Dance School; and has held teaching positions with the Alliance Theatre, University of Southern Mississippi, Kennesaw State University, the Swift School, Stagedoor Manor, and Atlanta Children’s Theatre. He is a graduate of the Second City Advanced Directing program, holds an MFA in Directing (Theatre), and has trained with the Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre. Other directing: iO, Univ. Southern Mississippi, Inertia Theatre Project, Earl and Rachel Smith Strand Theatre, The Collective Project Inc., and Atlanta Fringe Festival. www.coreybradberry.com
MACK GORDON is a founding producer with A Theater in the Dark and the author of the company's inaugural production, THREE STORIES UP. Mack has been writing plays for ten years. His work has been published in Discorder Magazine, Carte Blanche, and Speakeasy Theatre’s Pull Anthology. His plays have been produced by ITSAZOO Productions (DEBTS, FIVE RED BALLOONS), Western Canada Theatre (THE BALLAD OF THE BURNING LADY), Upintheair Theatre (VISITORS), Alley Theatre (THREE STORIES UP) and Level-Headed Friends Productions (SIX FINE LINES; SHAKE THE SHEETS!; DEAD CELEBRITIES). He is a three-time writing contributor to Sum Theatre's Pull Festival and a four-time Jessie Richardson Theatre Award nominee. As an actor, Mack has worked with Chicago Dramatists as well as such Canadian companies as Bard on the Beach, The Arts Club, Carousel Theatre, Green Thumb, The Firehall Arts Centre, Pacific Theatre, and many others. www.mackgordontheatre.com
MISSION: A Theater in the Dark creates stories through sound, through both live online audio dramas and in-person, pitch black theatre events. Established Chicago, 2019.