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Radio Dramas on the VOA - 2002-03-12

A VOA Snapshot - Part of the continuing coverage in this, VOA's 60th Anniversary Year

In VOA's early years — during the 1940s — radio dramas were a regular part of our programming, along with news of World War II. But as the years went by, changing priorities left the dramas off VOA's schedule for decades. Six years ago, radio plays came back to VOA.

Each year, VOA produces several radio plays with the Los Angeles Theater Works and the Smithsonian Institution, in VOA's Washington auditorium.

The VOA radio dramas feature such renowned film and TV stars as Laura Linney, who speak their roles to microphones on stage before an audience of several hundred people. But one of the most important cast members doesn't have a speaking role. He is VOA producer Gary Spizler and he does the sound effects.

Gary Spizler says the source of sound effects may be as common as scrap paper or simply something in his pocket. "Somebody needs change, so some change goes from one hand to the next," he explains. "There are times I have to tear a piece of paper. Sometimes, they need to toss somebody the keys, so I toss my keys."

When Mr. Spizler's sound magic is mixed with the voices of the cast of the radio dramas, the result is theater of the mind - as in a recent production of playwright Neil Simon's "Barefoot in the Park," from VOA's new radio drama series.