Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Spend 14 Hours Listening to “Star Wars” as an Audio Drama!

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Mary Anne Butler
Mary Anne Butler (Mab) has been part of the fast-paced world of journalism since she was 15, getting her start in album reviews and live concert coverage for a nationally published (print) music magazine. She eventually transitioned to online media, writing for such sites as UGO/IGN, ComicsOnline, Geek Magazine, Ace of Geeks, Aggressive Comix (where she is still Editor-in-Chief), Bleeding Cool (where she was News Editor), and now NerdBot as News Editor. Over the past 10 years, she’s built a reputation at conventions across the globe as a cosplayer (occasionally), photographer (constantly), panelist and moderator (mostly), and reporter (always). Interviews, reviews, observations, breaking news, and objective reporting are the name of the game for the founder of Harkonnen Knife Fight, a Dune-themed band with an international presence. Though she be but little, she is fierce.

If you’re looking for an incredible way to spend the next 14 hours of your day, look no further than the audio drama edition of the original first 3 “Star Wars” films.

The story about the audio drama was recently recounted by Open Culture, who says that a student at the University of California, who suggested it to USC School of the Performing arts dean and radio-drama enthusiast Richard Toscan. There could have been no institution better-placed to take on such a project. Since Toscan had already produced dramas on the school’s NPR-affiliated radio station KUSC, he made an ideal collaborator in the network’s effort to breathe new life into its dramatic programming.

Enter one George Lucas, who sold the radio rights (which included the use of the film’s music and sound effects) to KUSC, for one dollar. Yup- one single dollar.

NPR entered into a co-production deal with The BBC, and set out to produce the audio dramas. The first edition with “Star Wars” aired in 1981, with “The Empire Strikes Back” in 1983, and eventually after prolonged development challenges “Return of the Jedi” in 1996.

So, why not spend the rest of your Memorial Day Weekend reliving this wonderful slice of audio drama goodness.

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You can hear all fourteen hours of these original Star Wars trilogy radio dramas at the Internet Archive (Star WarsThe Empire Strikes BackReturn of the Jedi), or on a Youtube playlist (with fan edits combining the originally discrete episodes into continuous listening experiences). 

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