When CBS radio aired the sci-fi drama “The War of the Worlds” in 1938, rewritten as a series of fake news bulletins about Martians invading New Jersey, many listeners ran into the streets in panic.
Given how 2020 has gone so far, an alien invasion doesn’t seem totally out of the question. So, it’s only appropriate that Theatre in the Dark, a Chicago production company that creates live experiential performance through the medium of sound, has decided to stage a contemporary version of H.G. Wells’ classic tale.
“We began our adaptation, ‘A War of the Worlds’, back in December with no indication that the play would be as preternaturally relevant as it is,” said theater founder and Logan Square resident Mack Gordon, who co-wrote the production with partner Corey Bradberry. “The parallels to modern day…make the story even richer for our modern audience.”
The audio play, which debuts Oct. 15, is set in Chicago and follows the events of an alien attack after a meteor from Mars crashes to earth 70 miles outside the city. The 90-minute drama will be performed live on Zoom six times each week by a cast of actors, complete with music and sound effects in the tradition of golden age radio.
Theatre in the Dark was originally planning to stage the show as a live production in a blacked-out space, but the COVID pandemic and restrictions prohibiting large group gatherings forced the organizers to rethink their plans. Instead, the play will be a “Zoom-enabled performance,” with actors and artists performing from their home studios.
“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?”-Theatre in the Dark
“Audiences are encouraged to listen to the broadcast in small groups,” said the organizers. “[They should] relax and settle in a dark space with wine and food before submitting to the horrifying thought of an invasion from another planet.”
While the play will be broadcast on Zoom, there’s no need to watch the screen. Once you’re logged in, you can sit back, turn off your screen and turn up your speakers.
The play will run from Oct. 15 through Nov. 21, airing Tuesdays – Saturdays at 8 p.m. and on Sundays at 7 p.m. Tickets are pay-what-you-can ($15 – $20 suggested donation) and are currently on sale here.
Featured image: Unsplash/Yu Kato