Indiana Daily Student

Local theater prepares Christmas radio play

Members of the Monroe County Civic Theater prepare for a radio performance that will air on Christmas Day.
Members of the Monroe County Civic Theater prepare for a radio performance that will air on Christmas Day.

The devil Mephistopheles, Roman emperors Nero and Caligula, Ivan the Terrible, the Biblical Haman, Lucrezia Borgia and Simon Legree all meet in hell to form a plan to destroy Christmas in Norman Corwin’s “The Plot to Overthrow Christmas.”

Corwin wrote the original play for radio performance in 1938. The Monroe County Civic Theater will air the show Christmas Day as well as online in collaboration with WFHB community radio.

“The potential that radio has is wonderful,” co-director of the theater Roy Sillings said. “It’s very inexpensive, and we aren’t the richest organization in town when it comes to theater. It lets a lot of people participate. We’re a community and we want to have as many people involved as we can.”

MCCT had an open audition for actors. It took them three hours to get through all of the interested volunteers, Sillings said. The volunteers covered the spectrum from people new to radio to professional voice actors.

Sillings said radio acting requires a somewhat stronger form of acting than onstage performances, as actors only have their voices to convey a story.

“In one sense, it makes it smaller that you don’t have anything to look at,” Sillings said. “But in another sense it makes it bigger because you’ve got your imagination to fill in what you want to see. Each person sees what they want to see for the scene and what the characters look like.”

“The Plot to Overthrow Christmas” is a comedy written completely in rhyme. Zilia Sellés, who is co-director of the theater along with Sillings, said the show has a kind of comedy no longer seen much in modern theater but that still remains relevant today.

“It’s a frothy little nonsense piece — it’s fun,” Sellés said. “There’s the opportunity for a lot of silliness and a kind of humor that we don’t see much anymore.”

One of the main services the MCCT provides to the community is offering an opportunity for people to be involved in entry-level theater, Sillings said.

All aspects of their performances, from directing and production to lighting and costume design, are put together solely by unpaid volunteers.

“We want to support people who want to act but don’t have experience,” Sellés said. “We’re in a society where everything has gotten professionalized, where people have fewer opportunities to play in the arts. MCCT provides that opportunity for people. It’s just a step beyond ‘Hey, let’s put a stage in the backyard and make a show.’”

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