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From the Archives

Sunday, April 17, 2011 - 12:00 AM

It’s often a challenge when dealing with archive materials for web presentations.

You have audio and no photo or vice versa.  Additionally, materials we now recognize as being innovative and landmark productions may have been overlooked in their day, leaving little public record of their activities.  

The WPA Theatre Project Radio Division under the direction of Evan Roberts is to a large extent such an endeavor.  We have access to nearly all of the scripts, but it appears that very few of these productions were recorded. Or, if they were, the discs have been lost.  It’s a loss that’s hard to bear, for we share Roberts' thoughts on the promise of radio voiced over WQXR in 1937:

"We know that radio audiences are eager for the experimental and hail new techniques and significant ideas with the fervor of converts to a new cause. We know that the world of machines [has] starved the creative imagination of our people who, now more than ever, feel the need to lift themselves up and above the sordid and the commonplace. We know that radio can reach out to the millions, and fill them with the best ideas and ideals that animate the best minds of the age."

Nevertheless, I toil on with some hope that these broadcasts will turn up some day and again provide us all with some aural inspiration.

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