There is a great difference between planning a radio play and planning a theatre play.
Brian March, who has done both, is now setting the stage for a new play about a radio play to be staged at Ladysmith Little Theatre.
March’s new play is called A Visit from the President. It tells the story of a small radio station in 1947 cut loose from its affiliate, NBC, and left to fend for themselves.
“It’s kind of a tribute to the old radio plays of the 1940s,” said March, also one of the driving forces behind the Yellow Point Drama Group.
“The radio station is going to go under unless they can come up with an idea to keep their ratings up.”
No national programming or support and a debt to a gangster are spelling out certain doom for the crew.
“Then they come up with the idea to create their own radio play.”
Taking it one step further, the staff decide to invite a celebrity to take part in the play —the president of the United States.
Well, it’s an election year and the president is going to be coming through the area and decides to accept the offer.
“As soon as that happens, everything becomes huge,” said March.
As word spreads the president will be doing a cameo, NBC jumps back on board and decides it will be broadcast nationally.
“In two days, they’ve got to come up with a radio play … using the people they have available at the station,” said March.
“It becomes a huge project.”
The radio play becomes a part of the show, said March.
“We see them performing part of it, but most of the action is behind the scenes.”
The part of the president will be played by various Ladysmith celebrities — a list March is keeping tight to the vest.
So why do a theatrical play about a radio play?
“I’m a big fan of radio plays and have produced some in the past,” said March.
“I thought it would be interesting to see the people behind the scenes,” March said of the show.
Even though the play is set in the ’40s many of the characters are faced with modern-day pressures.
For instance, one of the women who works at the station is left juggling so many tasks she could be considered a supermom in today’s world. Another character is struggling with body image.
A Visit from the President will also be this zone’s submission for the 2011 South Island Zone Festival which will be held right here in Ladysmith in May.
March isn’t too focused on the competition, though.
“My concern is putting on the best possible show in Ladysmith. I don’t want to look too far ahead.”
The preview of A Visit From the President is scheduled for Thursday, April 28.