Radio Drama Unit Introduction

Unit Introduction


Lesson Objective

Students will be able to discuss what they can learn from radio drama performance that can be useful to stage acting.



Play the following clip to 5:15. [Inform the students that the clip was recorded live, and is old, so they will have to listen carefully.] [The Shadow: He Died at Twelve]

Ask the students to describe what they heard. [Some prompt questions might be: What were the actors doing with their voices? What besides voices was used to tell the story? What kind of story do you think this is? What were some things the actors could not use to tell the story?]



Build a discussion with the students around the following questions and answers:

  • Ask the students what radio drama [A story told on the radio. A few actors perform the voices of all the characters; usually one actor will perform two or more characters. Radio dramas were the television of their time. Families would sit around a large radio in a prominent area of the home and listen to radio dramas. Often dramas were 30 minute stories, or a continuous series of stories. Radio drama actors were almost as popular as film stars. A modern example might be a podcast.]
  • Ask students if they know when radio dramas were popular. [Height of popularity was 1930s – mid 1950s.]
  • Ask students what some popular radio drama genres were. [Mysteries, soap operas, comedies.]


Essential Question

What can we learn from radio drama performance that can be useful to stage acting? [How to use the voice to create characters.]


Introduce the Upcoming Unit

Inform the students that in the next several days they will be learning about creating characters by using vocal variations. They will be introduced to several vocal variations, and will choose at least 2 of those variations to portray characters in radio dramas. Some of them will perform larger roles that will require distinct vocal characteristics, and some of them will perform more than one role, which will require them to use vocal variety to make the voices sound different from each other.