HD Stafford Students Turn the Dial on Radio Theatre

June 10, 2021

Teacher engages students with rendition of “The War of the Worlds”

Martians have invaded HD Stafford Middle School. Well, not exactly.

A group of students led by teacher Andrew Gundy have completed their own version of the 1938 Orson Welles radio production of “The War of the Worlds.”

Gundy who teaches theatre was inspired to take on the radio theatre project after seeing an image on the internet, prompting him to make the best out of a challenging situation in this pandemic.

“There was a meme about ‘aliens invading and at least that hasn’t happened yet.’ It has been quite a trying year,” says Andrew Gundy.

“In the back of my mind, I was thinking I’d like to do a theatre production, but I don’t really know how to do that with COVID or what would be allowed or not allowed, but I thought about it and then somehow it all clicked together. The idea of a radio play, about an alien invasion, catastrophe, something we’re all experiencing right now, so it all just came together,” explains Gundy.

The four-part series was written and voiced by the students. Many of them have experience with school productions but voice acting was a first.

“I usually like doing live performances more, but this was very fun because I could put my own ideas into the script that we were writing,” said Neera, one of the performers.

The students learned about the importance of imagery, expression, and sound.

“Writing for radio theatre, you have to really make sure that you know if you are saying something about the environment you have to really describe it, and you have to make sure that if I was just listening and didn’t see it, could I make the image in my head,” outlined Kaya, another student in the show.

With the internet and technology, the students admit radio is not a popular medium for their generation.

“This is kind of ‘old school,’ I kind of liked it though, because it was a change. This year hasn’t been normal at all for anyone, so I figured why not make this different too,” noted Kaya.

As part of the process, the group practiced together, then each actor was recorded individually. Gundy put all the pieces together on one track. He says it was a lot of work, but it was worthwhile.

“I think they did great work with what they had and that’s the thing for this year. I think they really offered something unique in their work and something that hopefully will be encouraging for them in years to come as they think of the memories of this time,” says Gundy.

“Kids are more resilient than we sometimes give them credit for. I think I have seen a lot of resiliency both in the students I teach and then these kids that I worked with as well,” added Gundy.

The four episodes of the War of the Worlds and other information can be accessed on the theatre group’s website here.