This illustration for the novel "The War of the Worlds" by H.G. Wells shows a Martian fighting-machine battling with the warship Thunder Child.
It has been more than 75 years since the original “The War of the Worlds” radio broadcast was performed as a Halloween episode by Orson Welles and The Mercury Theatre on the Air. The broadcast, which simulated an alien invasion near West Windsor, New Jersey, created a widespread panic as listeners thought the earth was actually being invaded by creatures from another planet.
This Halloween night, the Drexel Co-op Theatre Company in Drexel University’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design will open its version of “The War of the Worlds” at the URBN Center Annex’s Black Box Theater (3401 Filbert St.). The show will run from Oct. 30 – Nov. 2. On opening night – Halloween, Oct. 31 – attendees who come dressed in costume will receive free admission.
The Black Box Theater will be transformed into a radio studio, with a designated area for props and objects that will be used to create sound effects – including a contraption to create the ‘alien death ray’ – which will be captured by specialized microphones. Two student actors, Justin Allison, a freshman film and video major, and Natalie Juran, a sophomore graphic design major, will be responsible for the creation of most of the effects.
Orson Welles' "The War of the Worlds" is one of the most famous broadcasts in the history of radio
The show will be directed by Aaron Oster, an actor, director and designer who is a visiting lecturer at Rutgers Camden, and the sound designer is Stefan Orn Arnarson, who is a professor and director of theater programs at Rutgers Camden.
“I have always loved radio theater, or ‘Theater of the Ear,’ as it has been called by many people,” said Theater Program Director Nick Anselmo. “The only visual elements to our presentation of ‘War of the Worlds’ will be the creation of the sound effects onstage. We are going to try to be as true to the original production as possible, which I believe included placing a microphone inside a toilet to create the echo sound of the reporter in the field. We may not go that far, but we are going to do everything we can and we have hired a wonderful sound designer to create the effects with the actors.”
A preview of the show with limited seating will be held on Thursday, Oct. 30 from 8 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Performances will take place on Halloween, Friday, Oct. 31 at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 1 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 2 at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $5 with a Drexel ID, $15 for the general public and $10 for non-Drexel students, and are available for purchase at http://cooptheater.westphal.drexel.edu.
“Last year we presented ‘Godzilla: A Love Story’ for Halloween and it was very successful,” said Anselmo. “We had an audience full of people wearing crazy costumes. We hope the audience will enjoy ‘War of the Worlds’ as part of their Halloween celebrations this year.”
The Drexel Co-Op Theatre Company is a resident, student-run theater company that produces shows as part of Drexel’s theater program and is sponsored by the Department of Performing Arts in the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design. Students receive hands-on experience running a theater company at a professional level. Students participate in all aspects of theater performance and production including: acting, directing, design, costumes, lighting, sets, sound, publicity, and box office. Auditions occur in the spring and the beginning of each fall term for incoming students. Several alumni have also returned as paid professionals. For more information about theater at Drexel, visit http://www.drexel.edu/westphal/minors/THTR/.