November 12, 2008

Radio dramas inspire theater performance

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Marion Kleinau Theatre at Southern Illinois University Carbondale morphs into sci-fi central Nov. 13-15.

Graduate teaching assistant Charles Parrott presents “Rip Cardigan and the History of the Future,” an original stage performance drawing on serialized radio dramas of the 1940s for inspiration. Parrott writes and directs.

The performance is one that follows “the continuing adventures of science-hero Rip Cardigan, his mechanical sidekick Reddy the Robot and the reluctant Rona Reed” as they race the future to save it from Dr. Improbable. He explores ways to stage “temporality and subversive escapism.”

Parrot said the performance operates on two levels. “First,” he said, “it is funny and entertaining. It is very easy for an audience to access. Second, it is an intellectual examination of the tropes and traditions embedded in the narrative forms of classic adventure stories.”

Parrott said he finds value in reassessing and salvaging older performance modes such as vaudeville and radio drama. “These modes are the under-appreciated foundation of much contemporary performance, and are being forgotten with each passing year,” he said.

The performance will reference such staples as Flash Gordon, Dr. Who, The Lone Ranger and Sherlock Holmes, as well as the writer’s creation, Rip Cardigan.

Tickets are $7 for general admission, $5 for students. All performances begin at 8 p.m. Tickets are available at the door, or in advance by emailing or calling 618/453-5618. The Kleinau Theatre is on the second floor of the Communications Building.