Radio Drama Festival

We have the winners of the 5th UK International Radio Drama Festival

Full length

1st place: Die Toten Von Feuerland/The dead of Tierra del Fuego

Andreas Ammer and Ulrike Haage, NDR Kultur, Germany (German/English) 

On May 11, 1830, the sailors of the research vessel “HMS Beagle” exchange with the indigenous people of Tierra del Fuego the young Orundellico of the Yamana tribe for a mother-of-pearl button. The 15-year-old gets the name Jemmy Button. Captain FitzRoy decided to take four of the young Fuegian hostages all the way to England “to become useful as interpreters, and be the means of establishing a friendly disposition towards Englishmen on the part of their countrymen.” Like many stories also this one does not go well…One year later, Fitzroy returned the three surviving Fuegans home. He took with him a young naturalist, Charles Darwin. Haage and Ammer do not talk about what they know or suspect anyway. But perform a revival ritual without moral gravity: An essential part of the radio play are original sound recordings of the Yamana people. The radio play – based on the diaries of Darwin and Fitzroy – tells of the consequences of being uprooted and became a model for Michael Ende’s children’s book character Jim Knopf a century later.

Why the jury voted for it: First of all this was a great true story from history that no one on the jury had ever heard. It felt like you were listening to something important. The acting was first class, the soundscape and pace of the drama suited the subject matter perfectly. There was an inevitability to the tragedy that unfolded that was Greek in nature. Within a few minutes of this piece starting you felt in safe hands. Great radio drama.

2nd place: ZRTVE Radia Bum Bum/The Victims of Radio Boom Boom

Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film and TV, University of Ljubiana, Slovenia (Slovene)

The Victims of Radio Boom Boom are an original adaptation of the cult drama from 1975 by Dušan Jovanović titled Victims of Fashion Boom Boom, that is still considered as a turning event in the history of staging and dramatics.  

More than forty years later, students of the 4th year of drama acting and theatre and radio directing made an original adaptation of the text, where we wanted to draw attention to the message that is already given in the original proposal: the history of our civilization is nothing more than a repetition of violence, destruction, suffering and disgrace.

Why the jury voted for it: A jam-packed hamper of radio drama delights. In only 20 minutes the director/producer gave us reportage, great speeches from history, and a young cast enjoying themselves immensely as they wrong-footed the listener in playful, compelling and unnerving ways. The jury said they couldn’t wait to hear what was coming next in this piece.

3rd place is a tie!

James’s Story

RTE Drama on One, Ireland (English) 

The radio drama kicks off from a rather simple, but startling anecdote. Two young English art students, vacationing in a remote area of Kerry in the late 1960s, pass an old Irish farmer in a country lane. Hearing them speaking English, he calls to them and asks where they’re from. When they reply they are from London, he declares ‘I killed an Englishman once’.

The Story-Poacher creates small fleeting scenes, which play out on the landscape of the village. Sometimes he is discontented with these and discards them like early drafts. He is, in effect, writing his drama before our very ears and making us complicit. In the end, however, even he is caught short by the local Kerry people, playing themselves in the production, who have an altogether different and ‘deconstructing’ take on James’s Story.

Why the jury voted for it: A very ambitious radio drama with scenes in English and Gaelige plus interviews with real people handled in a very entertaining and intriguing way by David Zane Mairowitz. The character of the Story- Poacher dissects what a story is and in the process brings up questions as to the nature of storytelling and the reliability of memory. This play touched a chord with many members of the jury and stimulated much discussion.

Mono; Wie Mein Bruder Wahrend Eines Konzerts Von “The Who” In Einem Ohr Taub Wurde / Mono; How My Brother Became Deaf In One Ear At A Concert By The Who

David Zane Mairowitz, Germany (German/English) 

It’s TRUE. It happened during the song « Baba O’Reilly ».

My brother still goes to rock concerts, although he’s over 75, a septuagenarian teenager. During the day, he sells spare parts for lifts. He’s been doing the same work for fifty years, without more than a few weeks holiday, and without the merest promotion. Everyone wonders why, at 70, he doesn’t just retire. But he’s still strong, still mobile, why should he stop ? My brother and I haven’t been speaking to each other for years. This isn’t because of any great animosity between us, but mostly because our worlds split apart a long time ago. And suddenly, he calls, he needs my help. His new boss is trying to fire him because of his infirmity and he needs someone like me, who knows how to use words, to represent him at a labour tribunal.

Of course, Mono loses his case, and now sets off –his unwilling brother in tow – to get his ‘revenge’ on The WHO. This takes him to Camden Town, for a final showdown with Roger Daltrey (playing himself) which reveals unexpected and surprising results.

Why the jury voted for it: Just a great story, great soundtrack plus an appearance by Roger Daltry himself ! Essentially a tale of brotherhood, the character of the Fabulist echoed the Story – Poacher in James’ Story and made the listener complicit in the storytelling process. 53 minutes of thoroughly entertaining radio drama.

Short form

1st: One of our exercise books is missing 

Darrick Wood School, UK (English)

11 year-old Danny’s bag is packed, ready for school. But there’s a problem – one of his exercise books is missing. And turning up without his Geography book means only one thing: detention. Can the contents of Danny’s school bag really help him to get out of trouble?

The piece plays to the advantages of the audio medium: the action takes place in the dark and gives a voice to a series of inanimate objects.

Why the jury voted for it: All week we talked about the importance of getting a younger audience involved in radio drama and this piece does that brilliantly. A fun, inventive story with some excellent acting by the young cast. A drama that appealed to everyone on the jury.

2nd: Heruvim 

Radio Romania Bucuresti FM, Romania (Romanian)  

A radio drama about the words and logic of a group of cynical or petty adults, something without meaning for a child from a different universe.

Why the jury voted for it: This piece was moving in the extreme. A terrible situation seen from three separate viewpoints with the last of these being a deaf boy. The jury felt this was like a mini Greek Tragedy moving inexorably onwards towards a precipice. The use of soundscape was raw and shocking.

3rd: Jakou kávu máte rád? / What Kind of Coffee Do You Like? 

Czech Radio, Czech Republic (Czech)

Part of a project called Minute plays, which is being broadcast in Czech Radio since 2012. In this project, plays anywhere from one to five minutes long are introduced to the listeners, and they sometimes include poetic dramatization. What Kind of Coffee Do You Like? questions whether a person’s coffee preferences might reveal something about them.

Why the jury voted for it: A beautifully realised 2 minutes of comedy. The jury felt this was a breath of fresh air, being one of only a few comic pieces in the competition. The humour was adult, sassy and ironic set in a situation everyone could envisage easily.

Congratulations everyone!!