This site provides a collection of radio dramas from The Mercury Theater on the Air series in the 1930s. The show featured Orson Welles and John Houseman. One of the most memorable radio dramas from The Mercury Theater on the Air was Orson Welles, War of the Worlds. It is at this site, but so are many others. The 1988 interview by Leonard Maltin with surviving members of the Mercury Theater on the Air (found at the very bottom of the page under the Theater of the Imagination link) provides some wonderful history and backgound information for these radio dramas.
Type of Material:
This site is an historical collection of old radio dramas that were performed on The Mercury Theater on the Air in the late 1930s.
Technical Issues: (Stated by author _X__or Stated by reviewer_____)RealPlayer is required for listening to the radio dramas available in a streaming (Real Audio) format or in download (Real Audio) format. Some selections are also available in MP3 download format.RealPlayer 8 Basic (free download) is available at:http://www.real.com/player/index.html?src=010524realhome_1
Identify Major Learning Goals:
While the Mercury Theatre on the Air is most famous for Orson Welles' broadcast of the War of the Worlds, many other productions are relatively unknown. This site allows interested users to experience and relive those memorable performances. Students can learn about and listen to radio dramas from the 1930s, how they were created, and how they were used.
Target Student Population:
Anyone interested in radio drama and its history will find this site fascinating. Students in teacher education programs and teachers will find a wealth of authentic examples that can be used for research and review in arts courses.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
The ability to navigate a web page and to download material.
historical aspect of this collection with the authentic recordings make this an excellent resource for radio drama, history, and understanding how it is that we communicate feelings and expression. The history of the Mercury Theatre is quite interesting and very clearly written. Check out the interview of original Mercury Theater members by Leonard Maltin under the selection, Theater of the Imagination. Another important and helpful feature is the complete catalog listing of all shows produced by this theatre.
General Comments: This site has done a wonderful job of preserving these performances. Teachers could easily incorporate these shows, or portions of them, into lessons on a variety of topics (e.g., history, language arts).
Sometimes due to net congestion, the streaming audio gets disrupted. It is recommended that you download and then listen to your selection to avoid this.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The historical cultural context of the site makes it a valuable resource. The entire catalog of performances is available.
General Comments: At the very bottom of the page there is a link to Theatre of the Imagination (1988). This is a radio special about the Mercury Theatre on the Air hosted by Leonard Maltin and it features interviews with the surviving members. It is a good place to begin, if you are unfamiliar with radio drama and the Mercury Theatre on the Air.
Since this is an historical collection, no learning outcomes are presented. They would have to be created by the individual instructors after reviewing the site.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
This site is very easy to navigate and extremely clear in its presentation of material.
Titles of radio dramas are listed by dates of actual presentation on the radio, which makes research efficient and productive. There is no charge for the download of the shows' content. The sound is amazingly clear.
RealPlayer is needed to access the audio files of the old radio dramas. They can be listened to in Streaming Audio. They can be downloaded and then listened to in RealPlayer. Or they can be played as MP3s. Installing RealPlayer in advance is well worth the small effort.
At times the set font for the site makes it hard to clearly see the titles and information on the first read. A clearer font, such as Helvetica or Geneva, would allow for faster reading.
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