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KZSM — Theatre of the imagination

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Radio offers endless opportunity for creating quirky characters and imaginary environments for listeners to explore. On, your true community radio station, graduates of Texas State University’s Theatre Department are producing radio plays with new twists on traditional stories.

On Sundays from 9-10 p.m., Mitchell Oden and friends generate spontaneous comedy within the framework of an old-fashioned noir-style detective story with “The Pork Walks at Midnight.” The performers plan “the method of the crime, the location, and what was left at the crime,” but they improvise the rest of the story.

Before walking with the Pork, listeners can venture into the West that never was on “Roscoe Taylor: The Tallassee Tween” (Sundays 9-10 p.m.) Created by Garrett Buss, “Roscoe Taylor” blends two sources of inspiration—old Western radio plays like “Gunsmoke” and the comedy radio series “The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.” Roscoe and his talking horse Checkers Justice (voiced by Oden) wander through a fantasy landscape righting wrongs and chasing villains.

On “Reel Movies” (Tuesdays 8-9 p.m.), host Josh Davis plays with all movies rather than any specific genre. “Me and a few guests talk about movies,” he explains, “but there’s a catch in that none of the movies we’re talking about are actually real.”

The hosts and performers on these shows love inviting their listeners to collaborate in creating theatre. “I want to create a world that that the listener can kind of get lost in, and want to know what the next thing coming is,” Oden says, “maybe what we said wasn’t even funny but what you pictured in your head is what made it really funny.” “Since it’s an audio production,” Buss explains, “we can do anything—we can make horses talk; we can make a tumbleweed 300 feet tall plug up a tornado. We can make all kinds of fantastical things happen. We give the sound effects, but the rest of it is all up to your imagination.”

Making the sound effects adds to the fun, since the performers have to devise auditory illusions. For example, as Buss explains, “I’ve been making horse clops by tapping my knuckles on my hardwood desk and then playing it back a little bit slower to make it deeper sounding.”

These ingenious hosts and their radio dramas add an extra dimension to our range of talk and music shows. (just a little bit south of weird!).

San Marcos Record

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