European Symposium of the History of Audio Drama 2024

Type of meetig: Hybrid (in-person and remote)

Date: 2-3 September, 2024

Venue: Eötvös Loránd University, Faculty of Humanities, Room 39, 1088 Budapest, Múzeum krt 6-8.HUNGARY / Online

We invite scholars of radio drama studies and related fields, and practitioners, to contribute to the European Symposium of the History of Audio Drama, held in Budapest, Hungary.

The genre of radio drama has many names, including podcast fiction, scripted audio fiction, radio theater, or radio play and includs genres such as ars acustica, radio / audio feature or documentary play. The acces to these works are significantly more limited than of any other literary/media production. After a recent low, with the popularity of podcasts, audio dramas now again play an important role in our acustic media ecosystem. With this, old, long time not aired pieces are rediscovered and newly built online databases enable us to have an overview of the corpus of past audio drama productions. However, since the genre is language-locked, each country has different pathways in the preservation, rediscovery and production and exchange of audio dramas, from original productions to adaptations. The goal of this symposium is to inspire discussion between scholars and producers of radio dramas to have an overview of these national pathways, and to gain insight into the new national and international rediscovery of the genre. Our ultimate goal is to lay out the fundation of a European radio drama study group where key works, authors, directors, national or period styles and subgenres are explored to get a deeper understanding of how this „invisible” genre developed over the last 100+ years responding to artistic and political needs.

2-3 September, 2024


September 2.

10.00 Symposium Opening

Session 1: 10.15-13.00 History of audio drama in Europe

Hans-Ulrich Wagner (Leibniz-Institute for Media Research, Hans-Bredow-Institute, Hamburg (Germany)):

A Lifelong Struggle for Recognition – Key moments in the history of audio drama in Germany, 1945-today

Writers’ radio works were widely neglected. Their literary production for broadcasting stations with their institutional structures, for predefined program schedules, creative work closely linked to a technical apparatus was considered as ephemeral, volatile, and of secondary importance. However, within the last decades radio works and especially audio dramas are receiving more and more of the attention they deserve. Nowadays, they are studied as a central element of the overall literary production of an author as well as an intriguing part of art when it comes to the sonic dimensions. Germany has a very rich history when it comes to ‘Hörspiele’ (audio dramas; radio plays). It started immediately in the 1920s, when regional radio stations went on air and the first radio pioneers had to enter unknown territory. It faced dictatorship, propaganda aims and wartime pressure in the 1930s up to the end of WWII. When Germany’s history of audio drama started anew in summer 1945, both continuities and new beginnings shaped the further development. Within a 15-minute presentation, key moments of the history of audio drama in the Federal Republic of Germany from the postwar period up to now will be highlighted – key moments when institutional, generational, aesthetic and technological parameters were changing. To mention only one: the claim for a ‘New Radio Drama’ (‘Neues Hörspiel’) by the young generation of the 1960s and their struggle with the ‘Radio Drama of Inwardness’ (‘Innere Bühne’) represented by the generation of postwar soldiers. But such a brief history has to focus on the current situation as well. The framework established by the German public service broadcasters is under pressure: Audio dramas have to be produced for a deliberalised market and the change of users’ habits is shaped by new platforms and streaming services. For some time now, radio play producers have no longer been talking about ‘radio plays’ or ‘audio dramas’ but about ‘podcasts’.

Ludmila Alexei (Academy of Music, Theater and Visual Arts, Faculty of Theatrical, Choreographic and Multimedia Art; Teleradio-Moldova Company): 

The history of audio drama in Moldova

The topic is researched by Ludmila Alexei, PhD student, 2nd year, Academy of Music, Theater and Visual Arts, Faculty of Theatrical, Choreographic and Multimedia Art, cultural journalist at the Teleradio-Moldova Company, Radio Drama producer, screenwriter, editor, edited and broadcast around 20 audio dramas from 2014 until today. The history of Moldovan audio drama,(original title “TEATRUL LA MICROFON”) unfortunately, has not been studied in Moldova. In the last 2 years, the author of this article started an extensive research, and several articles were published in specialized magazines. We must mention the fact that the Moldovan radio-audio drama followed a similar path to that of the radio drama from the former socialist republics, as we were part of the former Soviet Union until 1989, when we separated from the USSR and gained Independence. Audio drama in the Moldavian SSR (currently the Republic of Moldova) meant a very important leap to perceive and promote national, Russian and universal drama. At the same time, it was an innovative project of the 1950s, because not only thoughts and messages could be transmitted through the radio, but also emotions, real sounds, sound effects, which was a novelty for the public. The first radio station opened in the RSSM dates back to October 30, 1930, in Tiraspol with a 4 kW station. According to the archives of the National Radio Station (today „Teleradio-Moldova” Company), the first audio drama recorded on magnetic tape dates back to February 20, 1950, with „Piatra din casa” by V. Alecsandri, a Romanian playwright. The roles are performed by actors from the troupe of the Theater „A.S. Puskin” (V. Cupcea, E. Ureche, V. Cocoț, E. Cazimirova, I. Leveanu, A. Iurceac and A. Plăcintă). Directors Victor Gherlac and Margareta Javroțchi staged this audio drama. In the Archive Book of Radio Moldova „Piatra din casa” is listed under the number LT-1, with a duration of 55.36 min., recording speed of 38cm/sec, date of recording and broadcasting 20.02.1950, double original , total reels – 2, the last check, according to the Decision of the Artistic Council, dates from February 12, 2008. Until 1950, the radio drama was broadcast directly from the studio, but when the magnetic tape appeared, the radio drama was recorded on the tape, which allowed radio drama to be preserved. Radio plays originated in the 1950s rose to their peak popularity in the 1980s. After the „Khrushchevist thaw”, audio drama knows creative and spiritual release. Romanian dramatists such as M. Eminescu, I.L. Caragiale and others are broadcast. Attracted by the magic of this art, directors, actors, composers dedicate themselves to this acoustic genre. A record number of audio dramas – 42 in number, were archived during the golden period between 1991-1992 and after. A new wave of dramatic plays from the works of M. Eminescu, M. Sadoveanu, W. Shakespeare, E. Ionesco, C. Goldoni, M. Visniec were broadcast on the radio after the proclamation of Independence of the Republic of Moldova in 1989. Currently Radio Moldova has an archive of over 500 audio dramas, which is today the Visiting Card of the Public Station of Radio Moldova.

Janusz Łastowiecki (University of Zielona Góra)

The Great Community of Individuals – A Few Words About the History of Polish Radio Theatre (remote presentation)

When did this story really begin? What was the first word, sound, silence, and melody? It is possible that it was a line from „Warszawianka” by Stanisław Wyspiański. However, researchers do not agree on the exact title of the first Polish radio play. Another theory suggests „Kulig w tarninach” based on „Ashes” by Stefan Żeromski. One thing is certain: it was the year 1925, November, an important month for Poles. It was then that the Polish radio theater, also known as the theater of imagination, was born. In a short presentation, I will outline the main transformations in Polish radio theater, ranging from the literary past of the genre to the binaural present and the concept of audio comics and sound films.

Miriam Petrini (La Sapienza University of Rome): 

The Greatest Discovery: Radio-theatre in Italy during fascism and the  contribution of Federico Fellini.

In the early ’30s, in Italy, theatre for the radio was an unpopular genre both among critics and for the public, but the popularity of the genre increased thanks to young authors who worked in the ‘radio revue’ subgenre. Federico Fellini was among them. He contributed to the renewal of radio theatre with his fantasy, irony and humanity. From 1940 to 1943 he wrote for the EIAR (Ente Italiano Audizioni Radiofoniche) about sixty radio-scripts. Although often overlooked, as they are unpublished, his radioscripts already show evidence of so-called ‘Fellinian’surrealism. The intent of my intervention is to first discuss the Italian context of radio in those years and on Fellini at EIAR. The paper will then focus on the radiodrama ‘Invenzioni’ written in 1943, which tells the story of humanity’s greatest invention: the dream. ‘Invenzioni’ is also one of the three radioplays by Fellini translated and played by Hungarian Radio in 2001, under the title The Greatest Discovery

Anxhela Çikopano Hoxha and Majlinda Hala (Centre of Art Studies – Academy of Sciences of Albania)

The (in)explicable death of the Albanian radio-drama

1938 marked the tenth anniversary of Albania’s declaration of independence and the airing of the country’s first radio-drama. The drama, written by Albanian writer Andrea Skanjeti and centered on the war led by national hero Skanderbeg, was performed in „Nacional” cinema-theater in Tirana and broadcasted live on Radio Tirana. It would be years before plays were again part of the radio broadcasts. „Theatre on the Microphone” was a huge hit with audiences, first shaped in brief thematic shows like „Funny Hour” and later „Dramatic Hour”; then live broadcasts from the theater; then performed and broadcasted live in the radio studios; and finally, post-produced. Having recognized the attraction of this setup, Radio Tirana proceeded to produce and air further pure or mixed radio-dramas, such as “The Heroism of our People in Centuries”, “Artistic Speech on the Microphone”, “Humor Show”, “Children Theater on the Microphone”, and so forth. All of these programs were regarded as part of a corpus known as The Radio-dramas, despite the fact that no distinct department dedicated to radio-dramas was ever established. Given that radio-dramas were used as a tool for propaganda during the communist era, one may reasonably anticipate that they would disappear following the political events of the 1990s. That is what happened for a while until BBC World Service Trust oversaw the production of „The Street with Pines,” a radio series produced in association with Radio Tirana by the end of 1990s and the begging of 2000s. Then it was discontinued– Were they not able to put together a radio-series in a professional manner? Did they not understand how to handle a radio-drama within the framework of the new economic system? Did they not know how to engage the audience with meaningful content? Did the audience turn its back on them due to different reasons? Which is the true cause of the end of the Albanian radio-drama’s era and its enduring legacy? This article aims to explore the genre’s history and legacy, addressing current concerns and potentially revealing problematic spots that could be remedied to revive Albanian radio-drama.

Edit Lakner (Radio-Television of Vojvodina), Ana Perisic (University of Novi Sad, Faculty of Technical Science), Andrea Erdely Perovics (Radio-Television of Vojvodina):

The Short History of Multilingual Radio Drama Production at Radio Novi Sad

Radio drama (Audio drama) is an artistic media artifact, that has a technology-dependent history development cycle, starting with the early broadcasting audio media origins, developing through the turbulent context-based proliferation with significant popularity oscillations, and contemporarily successfully coexisting in the multi-media broadcasting space. This article presents the short history of multilingual Radio Drama production at Radio Novi Sad. We cover several development periods: from its origin (1951), through expansion, the Golden Age, the Dark Age, the Gray Age, and the contemporary stage. The radio-drama broadcasting program at Radio Novi Sad started on the 20th of January 1951. The first emitted production was the Hungarian language radio drama titled „Marshal”. It was the radio adaptation of a drama of the same name, authored by Hungarian writer Ferenc Molnar. In January 1952, the first radio drama for children continued the starting stream. These activities led to the official formation of the professional Hungarian-language acting ensemble in 1953. Up to 1956, all of the production was live. After that time, the professional production starts. Radio dramas were at first professionally recorded on magnetic tapes, emitted regularly, and safely deposited in the Public media institution „Radio-television of Vojvodina” archive department. At present time the archive department deposits over 4000 recorded radio dramas produced in five languages. In 1957, under the organization of Radio Novi Sad broadcasting emitter, the first festival of adult radio drama in former Yugoslavia was held. Immediately after that, in 1958, the first Festival of Radio drama for children arose. In 1976, the bilingual history of radio drama at Radio Novi Sad started with the parallel production of children and adults radio drama programs in Hungarian and Serbian languages organized in separate language-based Editorial Broadcasting Program Boards. 1978 represents a turning point in the history of the radio drama program at Radio Novi Sad. On 1 January 1978, the Editorial Board of the speech-art program was established and joined two drama programs from the separated Program Boards into a single one. The primary aim of this organizational transformation was to establish the quintuple-language radio drama production in Hungarian, Serbian, Romanian, Slovakian, and Rusyn languages. It took nearly ten years to fully achieve the expected integration of multilingual speech and art production. The main development mile-stones are as follows: • 1982 – starts the Slovakian language radio drama for children and adults, while the Hungarian language experimental drama program joins the existing two terms of children (radio fairy tale, and children drama) and one term of adults drama; • 1984/85 season – starts the Rusyn language radio drama for adults and children and the Serbian language experimental drama; • 1985/86 season – starts multimedia theatre „Scene 13” establishing the first theatre in the context of Radio Novi Sad emitter; • 1987 – starts the Romanian language radio drama for adults and children; • 1988 – starts the short form of radio drama program in Hungarian and Serbian languages; By rounding up the development circle, in 1988, the golden age of the radio drama program at Radio Novi Sad started. From 1988 to 1990, the Integrated Drama Editor Board produced up to 140 drama program artifacts annually. Through productions in five different languages and different drama forms, these activities have significantly contributed to sustaining cultural diversity in the region. • 1990 – 2010 (the Dark Age) – In 1990, starts the crisis period due to the regional war conflicts in former Yugoslavia. In 1993, the acting ensemble stopped working, and was followed up by a significant reduction of other staff members (especially the program editors and producers). The main characteristics of the period from 1994 to 1999 are the survival of only two language programs Hungarian and Serbian, and the rare emissions in other languages. In April 1999, the Editorial Board of the Speech-Art Program was abolished for the first time. After five months only a small group of members continued the work with the significantly reduced production budget. In 2005, the second and final abolishment of the Speech-Art Program in Radio Novi Sad occurred. Drama stuff is incorporated in individual language boards and continues to emit previously produced materials in all five languages but without new production. The Dark Age ended in 2010; • 2010 – 2014 (the Gray Age) – In 2010, the radio drama in Hungarian and Serbian languages was re-established within individual Language Editorial Boards. 2012 – 2014, the gradual reestablishment of radio drama production in all five languages lasts. • 2015 – 2024 (the New Age) – In 2015, the Public media institution „Radio-television of Vojvodina” constituted the Department for Film and Drama. It was assumed as an integrated framework for audio and visual drama production. The quintuple languages radio drama production has been started again and continues until the present time. Considering the turbulent history of radio drama production in Radio Novi Sad, determined by the periodical raises and falls, the main conclusion is that radio drama is not dead. Throughout its complete history, due to the quintuple-language foundation, the Drama Editorial Board has significantly contributed, and still contributes, to the sustainability of cultural diversity at the national and international levels. Besides the production and program broadcasting activities, Radio Novi Sad has regularly participated and often won awards at prestigious radio drama festivals and events worldwide. The intensive interchange of radio drama artifacts, authorized texts, directors, actors, and producers fostered and fosters the overall cultural connections aiding the radio drama cultural heritage preservation.

Session: 2 15.00-18.00 (Audio drama producion in Europe)

Andrea Hanáčková (Palacký University Olomouc)

„Figures in the Realm of Spoken Word”: The Strategy of Public Service Media in Building a Platform for Radio Plays Compared to an Active Fandom in the Czech Republic

This contribution addresses the unique situation observed in the Czech Republic over the past thirty years. It summarizes the state of the sole auditory public service medium, Czech Radio, which has completely abandoned the development of a specialized database or platform for its fictional production. Over time, it has also dismantled all media that reflected on this type of production. In contrast, the paper highlights the unique platform „Panáček v říši mluveného slova” (Little Man in the Realm of Spoken Word), established in 2005. This platform offers tens of thousands of records on both Czech and global radio drama productions. A small group of enthusiasts thus performs the work typically undertaken by archival departments or progressive digitalization teams in other radio houses. The paper contemplates the necessity of a platform that would motivate both the general and professional public to listen to auditory artifacts and support the creation of new radio plays. It provides several examples to demonstrate the crucial role that this group of fandom currently plays amid the indifference of official radio production producers. The analysis presented raises questions that are not only relevant within the Central European radio space but also in the context of rapidly developing fictional productions on podcast platforms. Ultimately, this contribution advocates for a rethinking of the strategies employed by public service media, urging a renewed commitment to building accessible, comprehensive platforms that celebrate and sustain the art of radio drama. The insights gained from the Czech example may serve as a valuable reference for other regions and media houses facing similar challenges in the digital age.

András Radetzky (Pázmány Péter Catholic University)

Literature on the radio. Radio drama and dramatised literary recordings at Hungarian Catholic Radio

Drama, novel, narrative or short story, essay, poem, fairy tale. These are the main literary genres, almost all of which have been recorded for radio on Hungarian Catholic Radio in the last twenty years. The radio version of drama is the multi-actor audio play. This is perhaps the most exciting radio genre. It is not only good to listen to, but also because it offers the actor the opportunity to develop and make interesting the character without professional aids, make-up, scenery and costumes – „only in voice” – and to show his own „vocal talent”. Of course, radio acting can also be enhanced with „aids”, wind whistling, train whistling, rumbling, lightning striking, door slamming and more. A variation of sound play is radio play, in which, perhaps strangely, there can be a narrator (storyteller, narrator). In this case, not only are the actors in the scene speaking, but from time to time a narrator or narrator helps the radio listener to perceive the change of scene or the passage of time between scenes. When adapting for radio, the dramaturg and the director must first of all get to know the texts. Part of this is to leave out episodic or lengthy descriptive passages that are not very relevant to the stories. Shortening is also necessary for texts that are read out rather than dramatised. As well as devising dramaturgical solutions, the director is also responsible for choosing the actors. However, reading the texts for performance, only an informed director can choose the artists whose habits and voices are truly suited to the role. To do this, however, the director must know the actors and the performances. He or she must know the successes and failures of each performance, and, having watched many theatre performances, films and videos, he or she must know the strengths and weaknesses of the actors, knowing who is in ‘good form’ and who is not. Many people don’t think so, but reading a novel, or even a short story or fairy tale over the radio, is perhaps the most complex task for an actor. It is not only that, like the characters in the voice play, he or she can create „with just his or her voice”, but also that the task is multi-layered. On the one hand, he is the narrator, telling the story to the listeners, and on the other hand, he plays all the characters in the story, each of them very different from the others. So, in the case of a fairy tale, she has only to use her voice to make the character of a cheerful cricket, a growling bear, an excited dog or a flattering kitten believable, sympathetic or unlikable. The same is the task of the actor reading a passage from a novel: he alone must play the role of the stern or angry man, or the deceitful and vain, or the honest, kind and good-hearted. The rules for recording poems on the radio are specific. In recording them, the director needs additional „special knowledge” in selecting the performers: which actors can and cannot recite poetry. (In fact, to make the task not so simple, there are some great actors who can hardly recite, and some not so good actors who are occasionally excellent at reciting.) In compiling our radio literary programme, we take into account the interests of different age groups, radio listening habits, and we cannot forget children. For adult listeners, poems are delivered in 25-30 minute selections, usually at the end of the week. After midnight, a poem is performed, even in a musical setting. In the programmes and compilations, we try to pay attention to current events, historical events, authors’ anniversaries, and especially to Hungarian and foreign writings with a Christian perspective.

Cristian Rusu (Babeș-Bolyai University Cluj, Romania): 

Enhancing Visuals Through Acoustics in Contemporary Art Projects

The production of a radio drama in Romania is an audacious approach. The Romanian radio tradition is, unfortunately, quite outdated and limited to traditional radio productions that just illustrate dramaturgic texts from all genres and traditions. For my participation in the ArtEncounters Biennale Timișoara, 2017 I decided to exhibit my artwork in two ways: visually (as a model) and acoustically, creating a radio drama (as a web link). I considered that the dramatic theme discussed in my artwork will be enhanced through dramatizing a true story by acoustic means. A Wagon of Salt is an artwork project that discusses a less-known political story that concerns a hidden deal between the former secret service of Yugoslavia and Romania during the communists regimes. If a Romanian refugee, if not dying, managed to escape to Yugoslavia, seeking the way to freedom and he/she was delivered back to Romania, the price for his/her life was a fright wagon of salt donated by Romania. Their stories were spread mainly through Radio Free Europe. I found a person who was literally traded in that manner back in 1989 in his attempt to leave Romania swimming across the Danube. My presentation (and text) will focus critically on my approaches to transposing the project visually and acoustically. Visually, it meant a proposal for a permanent installation in the public space of Timișoara, featuring a fright wagon full of salt. The aim was to leave the big object on the spot forever to rot until its disappearance – it is a fact that salt can heal and destroy at the same time. It was a metaphor that I incorporated in my proposed anti-monument. Yet, I wanted to relate my antimonument’s statement to a human extreme experience, which is why I wanted to enhance it through an acoustic one. I considered that just a text would be not enough. Sound creates mental spaces, but when it is structured as a story (in the “orthodox” way), it extends our perception to a really personal spatial experience. And this is how the author’s story lives on and spreads through the listener’s perception. I will also discuss aspects concerning the very production process (research, recording, production team), my sound influences from radio drama culture, as well as a few notes on the perception of it.

Eszter Rozán (journalist, writer) – Gabriella Velics (associate professor, ELTE PPK, Institute of Pedagogy and Psychology at Szombathely):

Family Nandor – radio drama and community for 30 years in Szombathely

In this presentation we would like to introduce a radio drama titled ’Family Nandor’ which has existed almost for 30 years. This drama started in 1995 in ’SzóKöz-Rádió’ of Szombathely. It was a community radio, operated from 1995 to 2005. During these years the radio provided an opportunity not only for the radio staff, but for the wider listeners/audience to give their voice to the radio, not only by making news and other programs, but it also offered a platform for the art and for expressing their own thoughts too. 128 episodes were broadcasted in ‘SzóKöz -Rádió’. The characters in the drama were not real actors, their roles were played by the volunteers of the radio, which created an intimate group, and they became friends during the years. The most persons of the founders are together in these days too, and they always admit new members with pleasure. The story is about a family: father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, children, neighbors, colleagues and friends. They are common people; they live their usual everyday live. They love, quarrel, work, learn, travel, and live their life like everybody else, but sometimes strange things happen to them. This gives unique atmosphere to the whole story, and the audience waited for the new episodes because of the lovely but complex characters. They are not only good or bad, but they also have colorful personality, so everybody can recognize her or himself in them. The presenting author is the writer of the radio drama. She writes the story directly according to the performers’ personality. The recordings were in radio studios, first in SzóKöz Rádió and after in Berzsenyi Rádió (2007-2013). The participants got the script few days before the recordings, and on the day of the recording they had a rehearsal, and after they recorded the play. Only the music and the effects were edited afterwards. One episode was 7-8 pages and app. 20 minutes, it was broadcasted every week. After 2013 a new period started in the life of ’Family Nandor’ because the community radio ceased, and the author and the team wanted to continue the drama. They decided to perform in front of the audience in several places. They started to attend libraries, elderly homes, schools, prisons, children’s homes with special episodes. These episodes are independent from ’Family Nandor’, they are specially written to the target audience. The episodes in the radio or the episodes for the other audience deal not only with their everyday problems, but with social problems too, such as unemployment, migration, alcoholism, divorce, loneliness. The goal is with these episodes to raise the awareness of the general problems of our society, and they also offer possible solutions.

Matti Kajander (YLE Drama, Finland)

The future of auditive drama and some thoughts of cycle of history in the storytelling forms in Finland.

September 3.

Session:  3. Contexts of radio drama

Natalia Kowalska-Elkader (Department of Journalism and Social Communication, University of Lodz): 

Resonating Noise: Exploring Experimental Radio Drama Through Selected Works from the Polish Radio Experimental Studio

The Polish Radio Experimental Studio (PRES) is a beacon of innovation within radio artistry, pioneering avant-garde approaches to radio drama in Poland. Established as a division of Polish Radio in 1957 (closed in 2004), PRES quickly became synonymous with groundbreaking experimentation in sound and narrative. The paper explores experimental radio drama from the perspective of the PRES, focusing on works like „Dead Brigade” or „We” that exemplify its ethos of pushing artistic boundaries. Eugeniusz Rudnik emerges as a towering figure within PRES, renowned for his diverse and idiosyncratic compositions that defy categorization. Through techniques like collages or cut-ups, found footage, and bruitism, Rudnik challenged traditional notions of radio drama, infusing his creations with socio-political commentary. „Dead Brigade,” which premiered in 1964, is a poignant reflection on the human experience amidst the horrors of war. Adapted from the war diary of Leon Weliczker Wells, the production utilizes soundscapes and whispers to evoke a sense of haunting realism, transcending the limitations of traditional radio drama. Similarly, „Collage” epitomizes Rudnik’s anti-aestheticism, repurposing discarded materials to construct a raw, non-linear narrative that critiques contemporary society. Through a synthesis of technical ingenuity and artistic expression, PRES redefined the possibilities of radio art, leaving an indelible mark on the landscape of avant-garde radio art. The paper aims to clarify the exploration and comprehension of experimental radio drama by artists associated with the PRES. It attempts to illuminate the artistic endeavors within PRES, shedding light on how these creators navigated and interpreted the nuances of experimental radio drama. Moreover, it seeks to contextualize these works within the framework of genre patterns, employing a structural analysis and media-specific analysis methodology. Furthermore, the analysis will scrutinize these works through the lens of genre patterns, elucidating how PRES artists both adhered to and subverted traditional conventions of radio drama. This approach aims to uncover the underlying thematic and stylistic threads that unite these disparate works by identifying recurring motifs, narrative structures, and aesthetic choices. Overall, this paper endeavors to offer a comprehensive examination of experimental radio drama within the context of PRES, employing genre pattern analysis and media-specific methodology to illuminate its creators’ artistic achievements and innovative practices.

Ákos Windhager (Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest)

From Monumental Mystery Opera to Practical Incidental Music – Antal Németh’s Musical Conception in Stagings of The Tragedy

Antal Németh (1903 – 1968) devoted significant attention to Imre Madách’s work. He directed it eight times on stage, created a radio play, recorded it on disc (1937/38), and produced films based on it (1944, 1949: Madách: The Tragedy of a Man). In his early directorial approaches, he interpreted the work through the lens of mystery plays, akin to Faust and The Divine Comedy, later shifting towards a bourgeois theatrical interpretation. These divergent (and intermediate) stages necessitated distinct musical approaches.

The first well-documented production occurred in 1930 at the Hungarian Radio studio, utilizing Ákos Buttykay’s (1871 – 1935) incidental music. The musical character aligned with Németh’s early conception: a monumental symphonic cantata, referencing both Wagner’s earth-and-heaven-spanning tetralogy and early German expressionist operas. However, the director recognized that Buttykay’s inherently complex composition overshadowed the prose sections, demanding an elevated, declamatory, heroic speech style. Consequently, Németh later experimented with combining the sacrality of masses and the secondary sacrality of theatre, as exemplified in his staging of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis (1935). Based on this experience, he commissioned Ferenc Farkas (1905 – 2000) to compose a „Tragedy-opera” to accompany the stage production. The completed sketches were ultimately rejected, and a reduced version was performed during the famous 1937 National Theatre production. The composer further simplified this reduction for the 1938 record recording.

Németh requested Farkas to compose music that would connect scenes, succinctly illustrate textual omissions, and incorporate contemporary theatrical acoustic elements. An example of the latter: when a statesman character appeared on stage, trumpets would sound even in prose performances. Németh further refined his musical concept in the two film versions. Thus, the presentation demonstrates how the director sought a supra-prose soundscape for his mystery play conception, tracing his journey from monumental mystery opera to practical incidental music across various media and productions from 1930 to 1949.

Hrvoje Korbar (Freelanceer; Academy of Dramatic Arts in Zagreb):

Farawell to the words, immersion into silence – Zvonimir Bajsić and the Zagreb School of Documentary Radio Play

Zvonimir Bajsić, known as the father of Croatian radio, was a playwright, dramaturgue, theatre director and radio author. Having produced an influential opus of the literary radio plays, in 1968 he created the first documentary feature in Croatia (then former Yugoslavia) entitled “Farawell”. His “Farawell” represents a farawell to the literary text and dedication to create original radio pieces completely realized by using original, documentary sound and text. This expose will give an overview of the Bajsić’s feature works, explaining its historical context and defining its main characteristics and its influence on the new generations of radio producers. In “Farawell” we can trace almost all the key aspects of his work, that laid foundation for what will become Zagreb School of Documentary Radio Play – his use of raw documentary material, specific ways of using montage as an artistic mean, juxtaposing and contrapuncting various documentary materials and creating dialogue between different documentary materials and combining non-documentary and literary materials in feature. For Bajsić and his collaborators, feature is a truly collaborative practice – the sound designer is always listed as an equal collaborator as the director/author of the piece. In “Farawell”, and also in the rest of his vast opus, he explores the authentic artistic means of radio, looking for its expressive possibilities and not thinking about substituting its flaws (well-known prejudice about “blindness of radio”). Every single piece he produced and created is concieved in a different way, showing us different possibilities of approaching the dramaturgy and the narrative means in radio feature. His last work, “Prague Spring 1984” shows an incredible mastery of the form – conceived as a reportage from the festival of classical music, Bajsić goes back to Prague where he studied aesthetics at the university, recounts his memories and also troubled history of the revolution in 1968. More than 50 years after the first broadcast, “Farawell” is a piece that sounds incredibly contemporary, inspires a generation of new radio authors, and serves as a milestone in Croatian and European history of artistic radio.

Sofia Theodosiadou (Faculty of Education at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki):

Storytelling in audio drama in Greece : From children radio drama in the 1970s to podcasting in the 2020s

The first “official” content for children on the BBC could be heard on November 15, 1922 by 2ZY (Manchester) and it achieved this by providing a daily children’s pro-gramme, Kiddies Corner that offered a mixture of music, songs, stories and games, with content for younger and older listeners in two individual slots. In 1924, the BBC’s Artistic Director, Arthur Corbett-Smith, issued the first guidance on how to present to children. Children’s Hour that followed Kiddies Corner was unique as a BBC programme, spanning the whole of the UK network for more than forty years, but it meant very different things to different audiences because it was so loved by many children. Even if a century has passed since then, children’s radio in Europe and beyond continues to be an underresearched era for academics and a field that needs furhter exploration. According to radio historian and theorist Tim Crook “radio and audio drama” are always linked together and audio drama is associated both with the theatre before radio and with the internet age today. For Crooks there is no clear “radio drama then audio drama” sequence, nor is there a perfect distinction between the two. Moreover making drama is the traditional vehicle through which audio media innovate new languages and sensibilities. Verma (2017b) argues that contemporaty audio drama such as fiction podcasts is altering the way we listen, “producing an “ear” for itself” and can alter the relationship we have with sound media of the past. Verma proposes the example of the series Homecoming that “is using sound as rhetoric”. This research explores how audio drama storytelling for children has been shaped in different time frames in Greece. Focusing on two case studies, one from each period, the research aims to depict the different qualities that have formed audio drama storytelling for children and use particular techniques and styles to perform the theatrical dimension of the audio story. In addittion the study wants to illustrate how audio drama storytelling for children has been influenced by social and political circumstances of the periods examined and how these two (audio drama storytelling and sociopolitical reality) provoke an intimate dialogue among them. Drawing on a set of 4hous radio programmes and an interview with the fellow radio producer, actress Mara Tsikara the paper aims to depict the qualities of audio drama storytelling for children and its possible lasting effects on the children audience. The study uses discourse analysis to delve into the richness of the radio text and discover the different genres that form audio storytelling for children in two significant periods of Greek history. The two case studies are the radio program Edo Lillipouli which was a children’s radio series of the late 70s that was heard on the Third Program of Hellenic Radio, which at that time was under the direction of Manos Hadjidakis. The show is now considered „legendary” both for its originality and quality, and for its enduring influence on children’s songwriting. The second case study is a radio fairy tale with the title This is another bookstore by the National Theatre of Northern Greece by Mara Tsikara and Evgenios Dermitasoglou, which has the content of the traditional radio programme for kids but has the series structure of a podcast and is also aired in spotify and soundcloud as a podcast too. The study aspires to bring its comparative lens and illuminate the dynamic features of childrens audio/radio drama storytelling that survived in todays programmes.

Judit Langer-Buchwald (Eötvös Loránd University Faculty of Education and Psychology) – Zsolt Langer (Eötvös Loránd University Faculty of Education and Psychology): 

Audio drama: more than a literary genre – Audio drama in the service of competence development in mother tongue and foreign language classes

The audio drama – ’Hörspiel’ in German, or as it is often called in the German literature „cinema in the head” or „stage in the head” – has been a major genre in the German-speaking world since the advent of radio. Oriented towards narrative literature, audio drama uses acoustic means to tell stories, and its authors are therefore primarily writers and literary figures. Experimental audio-drama is more of an art form, inspired by avant-garde art, linked to experimental forms of film, music, language and visual arts, and is accordingly produced by musicians, composers and filmmakers. The literary orientation of audio drama, which is important for our presentation, can be traced back to important writers in German literature such as Bertolt Brecht from the early period of the birth of audio drama, Günter Eich, Heinrich Böll and Ingeborg Bachmann from the post-World War II period, and Tim Staffel, John von Düffel and Raoul Schrott who are representatives of contemporary audio drama (Würffel, 1978). As audio drama has a long history in literature in Germany and is a recognised genre, it has become a much more important teaching method in the teaching of mother tongue, literature and foreign languages, alongside many other literary genres, which is a major factor in the teaching of mother tongue and foreign languages in Hungary, literature and foreign language education, despite the fact that studies highlight the potential of literary texts, including audio drama, in the development of language competence not only in the teaching of mother tongue but also in the teaching of foreign languages (Szénási, 2012; Kovács, 2014; O’ Sullivan & Rössler, 2013; Lipócziné Csabai, 2019). In this presentation, we will analyse methodological publications and aids supporting the teaching of German as a mother tongue (DaM), German as a first language (DaE) and German as a foreign language (DaF) to show how audio drama can be used in the teaching of mother tongue and foreign language to develop receptive and productive language skills, on the other hand, we would like to show how, in addition to the competences that seem to be taken for granted in language teaching, such as listening comprehension or text production, it can also play a role in the development of media competence, literary competence, aesthetic competence, imagination and creativity, among others.

Henrik Hargitai1., Anna Gács2., Tibor Hirsch1, Mihály Szilágyi-Gál1 (1 ELTE Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest; 2 Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Dept. of Sociology and Communication Budapest)

Exploring Political Turmoil through the Radio Play Genre: A Hungarian Case Study

The Hungarian Radio Drama database, an ongoing initiative, aims to construct a comprehensive bibliographic catalogue of all radio dramas produced in Hungary. As of the current submission, the database holds records for nearly 12,000 items from 1926 to 2023. This endeavour is comparable to other databases like the German ARD Hörspieledatenbank or the Austrian ORF Hörspiel Search engine. However, our database originated as a “guerilla” university project, because the state-run Media Services and Support Trust Fund (MTVA) keeps their database sealed from even researchers and only a tiny fraction of radio dramas is available in the National Audiovisual Archive. The Hungarian database was built in two phases. First, bibliographic metadata was added to all items using radio listings in newspapers. In the second phase we developed a list of codes to describe the narrative, thematic, sonic, etc. qualities of the radio plays, which was applied to a representative 5% sample of radio dramas from 1945 to 2023 after individual listening sessions. The significance of database-supported statistical analysis of cultural products is heightened if the database includes genre-markers, thematic and plot descripting codes. This enables comparisons between cultural products of the same era facilitating quantitative analyses and highlighting the influence of domestic political, economic, and mass cultural phenomena on narrative arts. In Hungary, a similar database of feature film has been created recently which allows extensive comparisons. The database can also be used to shed light on how each political regime has used its own vocabulary and narratives to describe political turmoil. Our research aims to unveil these shifts in radio dramas and demonstrate how new political regimes inherited as well as excluded, or sanctioned, earlier taxonomic patterns. Complementing database research with interviews helps us understand the sociocultural background of radio drama production in different periods. Our paper will address the conference call from three aspects. 1) Representing disorder: we discuss how historical disturbances, such as the communist takeover after World War II, the 1956 Uprising, and the collapse of state socialism in 1989, have been portrayed in Hungarian radio plays, a genre exclusively produced by the Hungarian State Radio until recently. 2) The cultural logic of transition: in this section we discuss the role of radio drama production in cultural life in the years of transition to democracy. 3) Researching media in an autocratic climate: And third, we will interpret our experience of building the radio drama database in the context of the recent cultural policy of an autocratic regime.

11:00 Public panel discussion with invited participants

The past and future of the audio drama

12:30 Discussion of possibilities for cooperation and future plans