Friday, February 09, 2007

Crazy Dog Audio Theatre's The Stuff of Myths

What happens radio hits the stage? When something that used to exist as a vast array of crunches, pops, whizzes, pings and electronic vocal effects suddenly grows heads, legs, feet and whole human bodies? When Crazy Dog Audio Theatre's The Stuff of Myths hits the Project stage this evening, we won't just be able to hear the answer, we'll see it too.

Crazy Dog Audio Theatre is a company founded by actor, writer and radio fanatic, Roger Gregg, to produce, well, audio theatre: productions that make use of the special magic of radio to tell their stories.

Since then, they've created a huge body of acclaimed audio work, producing radio series such as The Last Harbinger, a sci-fi satire on contemporary America, or last year's Audio Gothic, a series of five spooky plays, produced on RTE around Halloween. Most of these productions then go on to have a life, either as CDs or downloads.

As Douglas Adams (in the radio version of whose Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Gregg has been heard as the voice of a space-going computer) would have surely agreed, cross-platform art is where the action's at.

But Gregg has had a longing for flesh and blood. "We had done a lot of live shows for RTE radio in the early 90s," says Gregg. "But they were shows where the actors were reading from scripts, with live sound and live music. But what we always wanted to do was try to combine convention theatre with radio theatre."

Now, with an Arts Council grant under their belt, the company is ready for some face to face time. For their first live theatre piece the company have created The Stuff of Myth, a retelling of the mythological tale of Orpheus and Eurydice.

"It is a sex comedy at root, about a bunch of very dysfunctional ancient Greek relationships. But it's a musical too. So it sits somewhere between Frank Zappa, Woody Allen and Monty Python."

"It's a kind of hybrid: scripts are memorized, there's a bit of scenery. You will see what is making the noise, all the sound gadgets. There is no pre-recorded sounds, nobody pushing buttons backstageā€¦For us, it's a stylistic issue. I've seen shows with very good sound effects, where they arrive with a bunch of cues on CD. When I'm working with Barabbas, that's the way we do it. And it can be great. But that is not what we wanted to do here. We'd seen that before. So, we said 'let's try to go all acoustic and live'".

But when the show is all over, and the Crazy Dogs have melted back into the ether, could that really be the end of this production? Or is it possible for The Stuff of Myth to make the journey back into the underworld of "audio only" drama?

"The funny thing is," says Gregg "Radio theatre is primarily a visual medium, but the visuals come via sound. The job in radio theatre is putting pictures into the listener's head. But here, some of the storytelling is done in what the audience is watching. So when we take The Stuff of Myth off the stage and onto radio, we need to rethink how we get the pictures into people's headsā€¦"



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