Yuri Rasovsky Radio Plays

Yuri Rasovsky was "America's most distinguished unknown audio dramatist," and a veteran of 45 years writing, producing and performing in theater and broadcasting. He won numerous awards for his audio plays, including two Peabodys and a Grammy. A long-time resident of Chicago, he lived in Los Angeles, where he wrote for AudioFile magazine and produced audiobooks for Blackstone Audio, Inc. and The Hollywood Theater of the Ear. He considered audio drama "the happiest and most stimulating road to penury and obscurity."

Yuri produced plays for the BBC, and he was responsible for the only American production of Giles Cooper's "Mathry Beacon"

He had a website covering almost every aspect of radio drama from the point of view of those who are (or who would like to be) involved in making radio plays.

His site is thought-provoking, humorous, and extremely thorough - upwards of a hundred pages of essential reading for the would-be radio professional. Yuri died in 2011 but at the time of writing the site can be found at www.irasov.com

Yuri offered to answer some questions about American radio drama, and his comments are below. After that I've appended a list of his main radio productions (not including talking books).

Dear Nigel

To answer your questions:

How does the American system of making radio drama compare with ours?

I directed a couple of shows at Broadcasting House back in the early 1980s, so I can only compare that experience to the American system. Actually, there is no system in America. The one common thread is the lack of real estate. American voice studios are tiny and accoustically mediocre. Various sound processing gizmos are supposed to make up for the flaws. Therefore, there is considerable post-production after the actors have gone home.

At the Beeb, the studios were more than adequate. Practically no post was required, after various takes were edited together and flubs removed. The biggest difference, however, was in personnel. The luxury of having a studio manager, a GRAMS operated and a spot guy (what we call a "foley walker" here) -- all of whom actually KNOW what they're doing and actually CARE about it -- made all the difference in the world to me.

In the States, I usually have to work with an inexperienced and unmotivated engineer who may or may not be backed up by a "studio second," that is, a kind of apprentice.

How did your Mathry Beacon differ from the BBC version?

I think we gave more attention to the subtext and played the suspense more than the Brits did with their production.

-Why did you choose Mathry Beacon?
I think it is one of the best, if not THE best, radio plays in the English language. I felt that if we didn't mount a production, the play would remain totally unknown in the U.S.

In the case of this particular production, we had Martyn Green of Gilbert & Sullivan fame playing Lt. Gann. We rehearsed with him and the cast several afternoons and taped all his scenes in one day. This was to accommodate his schedule. We were working in Chicago where Green had just closed in a stage play. We needed to record him before he went back home to Los Angeles.

We had to wait before we could record the rest of the piece because one of the actors, a Welshman, was flying home for a brief vacation. We were scheduled to finish on Monday, Feb 10, 1975. Green died on Saturday, Feb 8. So, as you can imagine, we were in a strange mood when we met in the studio.

The cast was as follows:
GANN - Martyn Green
ANDIE BLICK - Nick Rudall
BETTY LING - Diane Rudall
RITA BLEENING - Mary Gugenheim
JAKE OLIM - Danny Goldring
MORLAIS "TAFFY" EVANS - Kenneth Northcott
KIDS - Janet and Scott Schenker

It premiered on Chicago's WFMT in March 1975, and nationally in 1982.

Many thanks, Yuri..........N.D.


PERFIDY AND PERFECTION, by the late Yuri Rasovsky (R4, 1415, 19 Jul 22) was a little gem; a beautifully constructed comic duet told entirely via a couple’s letters. It starred two American actors: Simon Helberg and Jocelyn Towne, directed by Martin Jarvis. It's a romance set in 1912 Boston, then Paris, Rome and beyond. A penniless young fortune hunter James, having borrowed money, is setting out to court a charity worker, Julia, daughter of a rich Bostonian. She falls under James’ spell. But father objects. The play used specially-composed music by A-Mnemonic and the producer was Rosalind Ayres, for indie company Jarvis and Ayres. (....ND, Diversity website review, Sep 2022)

Adorjan, Carol M. Friends. National Radio Theater. 1976.
--. Portions Mechanically Reproduced. Western Public Radio. 1983.
--. A Safe Place. National Radio Theater. 1976.
Adrian, Rhys. A Nice Clean Sheet of Paper. National Radio Theater. 1977.
Albee, Edward. The Zoo Story. National Radio Theater. 1974.
Allen, Woody. God. National Radio Theater. 1978.
Anonymous. Abraham and Isaac. National Radio Theater. 1985.
--. Everyman. National Radio Theater. 1985.
Ansky, S. The Dybbuk. Hollywood Theater of the Ear, Dove Audio. 1999.* Republished Blackstone Audiobooks. 2003.
Aristophanes. The Frogs. National Radio Theater. 1985.
Asch Sholem. God of Vengeance. National Radio Theater. 1974.
Barry, James M. The Twelve Pound Look. National Radio Theater. 1975.
Bellow, Saul. Orange Souffle. National Radio Theater. 1978.
--. The Wrecker. National Radio Theater. 1978.
Bermange, Barry. Nathan and Tabileth. National Radio Theater. 1977.
Brashler, William. Casey: Which Is Myself. National Radio Theater. 1982.

Brecht, Bertholt. ;The Jewish Wife; from The Private Life of the Master Race. National Radio Theater. 1982.

Brust, Alfred. The Wolves. National Radio Theater, Second City. 1978.
Büchner, Georg. Danton's Death. National Radio Theater. 1985.
Budrys, Algis. Rogue Moon. National Radio Theater. 1979.
Cabell, James Branch. Jurgen. Audio Literature: Fantastic Audio. 2001.*
Carr, John Dickson. ;The Locked Room.; National Radio Theater. 1985.
Chekhov, Anton. Uncle Vanya. National Radio Theater. 1985.
Choudhury, Rampada. ;Festal.; National Radio Theater. 1982.*
Colter, Cyrus. ;A Chance Meeting.; National Radio Theater. 1976.*
Cooper, Giles. Mathry Beacon. National Radio Theater. 1975.
Corwin, Norman. The Curse of 589. National Radio Theater. 1982.
Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. National Radio Theater. 1977.
Doctorow, E. L. Drinks Before Dinner. BBC. 1983.
Doyle, Arthur Conan. The Speckled Band. Blackstone Audiobooks. 2004.
Dumas fils, Alexandre. The Lady of the Camellias. National Radio Theater. 1985.

Dürrenmatt, Friedrich. Incident at Twilight. National Radio Theater. 1975.
Euripides. The Bacchae. National Radio Theater. 1979.
--. Medea. National Radio Theater. 1985.
Farquhar, George. The Beaux' Strategem. 1985.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The World of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Dramatizations by Michelle M. Faith and YR of FSF short stories accompanied by documentaries about the author's life and times. National Radio Theater, National Public Radio. 1978.
Fletcher, Lucille. Sorry . . . Wrong Number. University of Chicago. 1970. National Radio Theater. 1976.
Gillette, William and Arthur Conan Doyle. Sherlock Holmes. National Radio Theater. 1977. The Hollywood Theater of the Ear. Blackstone Audiobooks. 2004.
Gilroy, Frank. Who'll Save the Plowboy? National Radio Theater. 1979.
Goldman, Leo. The Midnight Mocker. National Radio Theater. 1978.
--. The Underground Golf Course. National Radio Theater. 1980.
Gower, Douglas. Daddies. National Radio Theater. 1979.
Grecco, Stephen. Coffee and Dessert. National Radio Theater. 1977.
Hagerup, Helge. Where the Frogs Fly. National Radio Theater. 1974.
Harte, Bret. The Outcasts of Poker Flat. National Radio Theater. 1978.
Heinlein, Robert A. ;By His Bootstraps.; National Radio Theater. 1982.
Homer. The Odyssey. National Radio Theater. 1980.*
Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. National Radio Theater. 1973.*
Ibsen, Henrik. An Enemy of the People. National Radio Theater. 1985.*
--. Ghosts. National Radio Theater. 1976.
Ionesco, Eugene. The Motor Show. National Radio Theater. 1977.
Irving, Washington. ;Rip Van Winkle.; The Web: WGBH. 1984.*
Ives, David. Canvas. National Radio Theater. 1980.
Jones, Henry Arthur. Michael's Lost Angel. National Radio Theater. 1978.
Just, Ward. The Weather in Berlin. (audiobook) Blackstone Audiobooks. 2003.
Kaufman, George S., Morrie Ryskind, George & Ira Gershwin. Of Thee I Sing. National Radio Theater, Grant Park Concerts. 1984.
Kline, Peter. The Osculating Universe. National Radio Theater. 1978.
Koch, Kenneth. George Washington Crossing the Delaware. National Radio Theater. 1979.
Kopit, Arthur. Chamber Music. National Radio Theater. 1977.
Lagerkvist, Pär. The Sybil. National Radio Theater. 1978.
London, Jack. The Sea Wolf. National Radio Theater. 1979.
MacLeish, Archibald. Fall of the City. National Radio Theater. 1977.
MacNeice, Louis and Benjamin Britten. The Dark Tower. National Radio Theater. 1977.

Malamud, Bernard. ;The Magic Barrel.; Studio One.*
Miller, Jason. Lou Gehrig Did Not Die of Cancer. National Radio Theater. 1977.
Milne, A. A. The Ugly Duckling. National Radio Theater. 1979.
Molière. Don Juan. National Radio Theater. 1980.*
--. The Imaginary Invalid. National Radio Theater. 1985.*
Mortimer, John. The Dock Brief. National Radio Theater. 1973.
--. I Spy. National Radio Theater. 1975.
Munro, H. H. (Saki) ;Gabriel-Ernest.; National Radio Theater. 1977.
--. ;Tobermory.; National Radio Theater. 1977.
--. ;The Interlopers.; National Radio Theater. 1977.
Myrdahl, Jan. I, Too, Am a Human Being. National Radio Theater. 1975.
Niven, Larry. Protector. (audiobook) Blackstone. 2003.
Offen, Ron. The Last Celebration. National Radio Theater. 1977.
O'Hara, Mary. The Catch Colt. The Markane Company. 1987.
O'Neill, Eugene. The Emperor Jones. National Radio Theater. 1978.
--. The Hairy Ape. National Radio Theater. 1974.
Peretz, I. L. ;Bonche Schweig.; Hollywood Theater of the Ear, National Public Radio. 1999.
--. ;If Not Higher.; Hollywood Theater of the Ear, National Public Radio. 1999.
Phillips, Louis. Arbuckle's Rape. National Radio Theater. 1977.
Pinter, Harold. A Slight Ache. National Radio Theater. 1976.
Poe, Edgar Allan. ;The Cask of Amontillado.; National Radio Theater. 1975. Hollywood Theater of the Ear. 2001.*
--. ;The Fall of the House of Usher.; National Radio Theater. 1975.*
--. ;The Purloined Letter.; The Web: WGBH. 1984.*
--. ;The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether.; National Radio Theater. 1975.*
Racine, Jean. Phaedra. National Radio Theater. 1985.Rasovsky, Yuri. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Based on the silent film. National Radio Theater. 1973, 1975. Hollywood Theater of the Ear. Revised 1998.
--. Craven Street. American Dialogues Radio. 1993.
--. The Courier: Cultural Resistance to Genocide. National Radio Theater, Cal State/Chico. 1984.
--,  Michele Damico, Denise Jimenez, et al. Dateline 1787. Seven-hr serialized docudrama. National Radio Theater. 1987.
--. Ghastly Double Murder in Famed Detective's Flat. Blackstone Audiobooks. 2004.
--. Noch Kolatski, Interplanetary Adventurer. National Radio Theater. 1972.
--. The Treasure of the Midas Nebula (based on Treasure Island). Adventure serial for children. National Radio Theater, Family Radio. 1984.
Rice, Elmer. The Adding Machine. National Radio Theater. 1978.
Robbins, Kenneth. Dynamite Hill. National Radio Theater. 1983.
Romains, Jules. Knock. National Radio Theater. 1979.
Rostand, Edmond. Cyrano de Bergerac. CBC. 1980.
Schjisgal, Murray. The Old Jew. National Radio Theater. 1974.
Schnitzler, Arthur. La Ronde. National Radio Theater. 1978.
Shakespeare, William & Felix Mendelssohn. A Midsummer Night's Dream. National Radio Theater, Grant Park Orchestyra and Chorus. 1987.
--. The Tempest. National Radio Theater. 1985.
Shaw, George Bernard. Arms and the Man. National Radio Theater. 1985.
--. The Devil's Disciple. National Radio Theater. 1975.
--. Man of Destiny. National Radio Theater. 1982.
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. National Radio Theater. 1978.*
Silverberg, Robert. Three by Silverberg. ;Good News from the Vatican,; ;The Secret Sharer,; ;We Are for the Dark.; Blackstone Audio Books.. 2002.
Sitwell, Edith and William Walton. Façade. National Radio Theater. 1983.
Stevenson, Robert Louis. ;Markheim.; National Radio Theater. 1977.*
Stoker, Bram. Dracula. National Radio Theater. 1976.*
Sweet, Jeffery. Porch. National Radio Theater. 1978.
Twain, Mark. ;Mrs. McWilliams and the Lightening.; National Radio Theater. 1976.
--. The Stolen White Elephant. National Radio Theater. 1976.
unknown. Party Girl. CBC. 1980.

Series of 40 plays of various lengths on science-fiction themes. Hollywood Theater of the Ear, National Public Radio, Audible.com. 2000-2001.
Bradbury, Ray. Pillar of Fire.
Brown, Fredric. Blood.*
--. Knock.*
Burroughs, Edgar Rice. The Moon Maid.;
Butler, Octavia E. Bloodchild.*
Capek, Karel. R.U.R.
Dowling, Terry. ;The Only Bird in Her Name.
Dryden, John. All for Love.*
Dürrenmatt, Friedrich. ;The Mission of the Vega.
Forster, E. M. The Machine Stops.
Hubbard, L. Ron. Ole Doc Methuselah.
Kersch, Gerald. A Little Bank Deposit.*
Kipling, Rudyard. As Easy as ABC.*
Kornbluth, C. M. The Marching Morons.
LeGuin, Ursula K. Vaster Than Empires and More Slow.
Leinster, Murray. The Mad Planet.
Lister, T. H. A Dialogue for the Year 2130.
London, Jack. A Curious Fragment.
Moore, C. L. Shambleau.
Nolan, William F. And Miles to Go Before I Sleep.*
Rasovsky, Yuri. It Came from Outer Pinsk.
--. Millennium Bug.
--. Millennium Bug II.
--. Why Support for Public Radio Must Increase in the New Century.
Robinson, Frank M. The Hunting Season.*
Scheckley, Robert. The Watchbird.
Shaw, Bernard. The Thing Happens; from Back to Methuselah.
Silverberg, Robert. ;A Sleep and a Forgetting.
Slesar, Henry. Merchant.*
Sturgeon, Theodore. Hurricane Trio.*
Orkin, Haris A Learned Fable; (from Twain Mark, Three Learned Fables for Good Old Boys and Girls.)
Van Vogt, A. E. Dear Pan Pal.
Vonnegut, Kurt. Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorow.*
Wells, H. G. ;A Dream of Armageddon.;*
Willis, Connie. ;Even the Queen.;*
Young, Wayland. ;The Choice.;
Zelazny, Roger. ;Collector's Fever.; * Cricket. (pilot) Open Court Publishing. 1984.
--. Great Moments in Money (demo). Marketplace, USC Radio. 1995.
--. A Tape of Quotations. National Radio Theater. 1984.
Wheeler, Hugh. Look, We've Come Through! National Radio Theater. 1976.
Yeats, William Butler. The Dreaming of the Bones. National Radio Theater. 1978.
--. Purgatory. National Radio Theater. 1978.
--. The Words upon the Windowpane. National Radio Theater. 1978.*

*Audio dramatization by YR.

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