Radio Plays: Magicians and Illusionists

The Imison winner, for the best radio script by a newcomer broadcast during 2007, was Adam Beeson, for THE MAGICIAN'S DAUGHTER, which was repeated on R4, 1415, 27 Oct 08. In 19th-century Europe, a famous magician is shot on stage. As he dies, he passes the secrets of his spectacular act to his daughter. For a while she continues the magic, and then she disappears. James Bryce was Kronos, Paul Young was the Great Visado, and Lucy Paterson was the daughter; Bruce Young produced.

Smoke and Mirrors....2007
By Paul B Davies. 11 jun 07. The Great Kalanag, Adolf Hitler's favourite conjuror, is touring the US during the 1950s when he is confronted by his dubious past in Nazi Germany. With Geoffrey Durham; can't remember the other actors but this is a proper drama, not a monologue. Producer Jolyon Jenkins.

By Goethe, adapted by Judith French. 28 Dec 04. The magical story of the apprentice magician left alone in his master's workshop - and the disastrous results which follow.

Hexenmeister ...... Paul Rhys
Copernicus ...... Harry Towb
Peter ...... Zac Fox
Broom ...... Nicholas Boulton
Freda ...... Jennifer Veal
Clock ...... Emily Wachter
Music composed by David Pickvance.
Directed by Marc Beeby.

....an atmospheric and unusual play about the ultimate illusionist. Part of it was set in the Nazi era, and part in the present day, long after Altaban ceased giving performances in public. It had an extraordinary climax........ND, VRPCC newsletter, 1999

.......S.B., talking about this play in a long article about writing radio plays:
............I read a short article about a man who went to a witch doctor to make him invulnerable to death. After the witch doctor had performed the rites, the man was still not satisfied and the witch doctor offered to shoot him to prove the spell had worked. The man agreed, the witch doctor shot him and the man fell down dead. At first I was amused by the absurdity of the story but something about it kept nagging at me. What would make a man be so terrified of death he'd go to a witch doctor? Why would the witch doctor be so confident he could protect him? From that four-line article in The Guardian, I knew I had the basis of a play.

Going back to my witch doctor idea, I'd wanted for a long time to write a ghost story set in Berlin after World War II because I am very interested in mixing up genres. But I also wanted to write a drama that dealt with the consequences of war in a serious and unsentimental way. To do this, I knew I had to create believable characters that the listener could quickly identify with. I started to experiment by doing some research on the period, making notes and playing with voices until gradually my central characters started to evolve.

Sergeant Stuckart was the first to arrive. At the start of the play, he's a brash GI who brags about his war exploits. But as the action progresses, he gradually changes into a man so traumatised by his wartime experiences that he will do anything to be saved from death. Balanced against him was Frank Bailey, a shy, Cambridge-educated scientist in his early twenties with no experience of war whatsoever. It's through Frank's eyes that we witness the story. With these two very different characters and their own distinct voices, I had a powerful platform upon which to spin out the rest of the drama.

29 Sep 97; Monday play. By Peter Ackroyd: dramatised by Alan Drury. Matthew Palmer is left an old house. Once owned by an Elizabethan scholar who was reputedly involved in black magic: the house hides dark and mysterious secrets. With Philip Glenister and Nigel Anthony. Director Claire Grove.

...remarks from ND: ....Curious fictional tale about an old house in Clerkenwell which was once inhabited by a black magician. The SMs had a lot of work to do in this production; the effect is slightly unsettling. You may have had the feeling of being watched, but when you turn around no-one is there. That's the atmosphere the play creates.

BBCR5, June 92, 4 x 30min. By Douglas Hill, adapted by Wally K. Daly. Sword and sorcery tale in which a blind magician and an archer must save a boy from the evil clutches of The Poisoner.

By T.H.White. The early days of Arthur. Rights now owned by the Disney Corporation - this one will never be repeated. Adapted by Neville Teller. The magician is Merlin.....or is he a wizard? If so he's on the wrong page.

By Bert Coules,R4,25.9.1982/2030,Barry Denner/Pinkie Johnstone/Hilda Kriseman. An excellent biographical play about the magician and illusionist Harry Houdini. Saturday Night Theatre. 90m. ....recording supplied by Bert Coules; many thanks...

Bert has also done 'A Wizard of Earthsea' - see Bert's page.

compiled by Nigel Deacon / Diversity website

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