Only 79 years ago, the radio show War of the Worlds, by Orson Wells, took the nation by storm. The GREAT Theatre paired up with St. Cloud State University’s radio station KVSC on October 28, to recreate such a legendary broadcast.
The broadcast that created terror in America in 1938 has become a staple in American history. Orson Wells, renowned director, and writer was famous for his realistic writing skills. At the time, Wells wanted to write and put something on-air that was terrifying for Halloween night. He had produced a story about aliens invading New York City, then quickly spreading to other parts of the nation. Because it was only showcased on the radio at the time, the audience could only listen to the story as it unfolded, using life-like sound effects and voices making it all more realistic. So, for those who had decided to tune in later to the broadcast, the show had sounded so real that Americans believed there was an invasion taking place. This incident sparked chaos in every part of the country, thus leaving October 31, 1938, as an important day in media history.
The event took place in two places: live on the KVSC network and at the GREAT Theatre in St. Cloud for a live production. Both parts, however, left their mark that night for neither one seemed to diminish the spooky factor that pairs with this horror classic.
For this age now becoming digital in every way, there would be an assumption that the airing of the narrative would not be as captivating or surprising. However, the ways in which the cast had presented themselves, their voices, and their creative use of objects for sound effects, makes it just as convincing as it was before. Even though it can only be heard, that’s what forces people today to use their imagination and take a look into the past, to view their form of entertainment.
The live showing at the theatre was another part of what made this piece one-of-a-kind. Cast members were set up in costume to get themselves into the mindset of the characters and common household items were used throughout to create background noise and settings. The time and effort that the cast and crew had put into this performance really showed and created a lively and entertaining tone to everyone who watched. Audience members were asked by KVSC to be silent because it was a live broadcast. However, by the looks of their faces, even though they knew there was not an actual alien invasion, for a second, it almost seemed as if they were convinced.
Bethanie is a junior at St. Cloud State and is a mathematics education major with minors in mass communications and special education. This year, she is the Managing Editor for the University Chronicle, a director for in house productions at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center and a math tutor. She enjoys writing, rock concerts, and serving her community and fellow students.