Ed Asney in staging of Monkey Trial transcript

Monkey trial still timely for tour of radio docudrama

Ed Asner takes the role of Bryan, not Darrow, in LATW’s drama based on the Scopes transcript. John de Lancie, at right, plays Darrow. Susan Loewenberg chose a radio play about the Scopes trial for L.A. Theatre Works’ 2005 national tour because it’s the one that teachers request most from the company’s catalog of more than 200 recorded plays. The teachers seemed to be saying the evolution/creation fight is an enduring topic in our national life and not just a quirky little philosophical eruption that excuses a quick revival of The Great Tennessee Monkey Trial. Indeed, as Ed Asner started off the tour last week as William Jennings Bryan, defender of creation, in Arcata, Calif., a new evolution trial was under way in court in Dover, Pa.

Will research bring comeback for radio drama?

Talking about the current status of drama on public radio, NPR’s cultural programmer Andy Trudeau thinks back 10, 15 years ago, to a panel session on audience building. Someone had asked the speakers, “When is the best time to air drama?,” and a panelist shot back, “1939.” Despite this pervasive belief among station programmers — that radio drama doesn’t draw or hold modern audiences — Trudeau is spearheading an effort to revive the genre. At the very least, his is an attempt — perhaps a last-ditch one — to bolster the only regularly distributed national outlet for radio drama, NPR Playhouse. Trudeau is asking the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) to fund research on the appeal of drama to NPR’s core audience, and he is asking drama producers to be signatories to the proposal and give the project some cash.