An Introduction to Audio Drama

Audio drama is quite an interesting medium of performing arts. In a sense, this tends to go hand and hand with animated works. Yet, at the same time they are two different things. Audio drama is an audio art which focuses on spoken words and sounds. Animation is similar to live action visual drama for the most part. However, it does not explain what audio drama is about. What is audio drama?

Audio drama is a drama. It is just like any other type of drama.  However, there is one major difference: there are no visuals. You are going to have to use your other senses and your imagination. You only hear the voices and the sound effects when it comes to an audio drama. You have no ideas on who the voice actors look like. You will have to imagine them in your heads. What are some examples of audio drama?

• Example One

One example would be your “books on tape.” What are books on tape? Books on tape are pretty much the same as books. However, the books are pretty much read to you. Again, there are no visuals with regards to book on tape. One major example would be some of the “Star Wars” stories. Listening to one of those tapes is pretty much the same as an audio drama.

The story is being read to you. In a sense, you are reading the book. But, there is a narrator telling the story. However, the format tends to be different from one story to another. One story could have the narrator read everything. Another story would probably have a bunch of voice actors saying lines.

It reminds me of this old “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” comic I received when I was about nine years old. The comic came with a cassette tape. The cassette tape was an audio drama that could have been played along with the comic. This seemed to be more of a true audio drama than the other books on tape that I had come across. The drama kept to the pace of the comic book. There were voice actors for Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, Raphael, April O’Neil, Master Splinter, Shredder, Bebop, and Rocksteady.

• Example Two

The second example would be audio theatre/radio drama. They are pretty much the same for the most part. Radio drama is pretty much a broadcasted storytelling on radio. This entices the listeners’ senses by a combination of dialogue, music, and sound effects. For the most part, it is a live radio drama.

Audio theatre is similar. However, it does not just apply to being broadcast on the radio. This comes in the form of live performances, multi-track studios, location production, and computer-based production. However live performances are popular in which the performers gather around and perform the script in real time. Most of the time, they are either in a sound studio are in front of a live audience.

Since we have video capability, audio drama seems to be a thing of the past. However, animated works are similar in that there are no live actors. There is live animation; but, there are voices actors. You do not know what the voice actors look like. However, they are similar on a technicality.

Overall, it does not mean that the medium of audio drama is dead. In fact, audio drama/audio theatre is far from it. With websites such as eSnips, YouTube, and a slew of other places that allow user-generated content, it has given the means for many everyday people to have their own audio dramas. Also, audio drama is the root of other live types of drama. Without audio drama, there would be no film drama and so forth.