On Sunday October 6th, students in the Milstein Program course Gramophone, Radio, Podcast: Sound Recording as a Medium for Writing, along with Milstein faculty fellow Professor Jeremy Braddock and other interested students attended a walking audio play titled “Storm Country” at the Cherry Arts in downtown Ithaca.
Inspired by “Tess from Storm Country”, a novel based in Ithaca, the play intertwines the physical elements of Ithaca with Tess’s story to create a world that is personal yet interactive with the external world. As the students walked in Ithaca’s West End, they simultaneously listened and followed along with Tess’s struggles in a socially divided Ithaca after her father’s death.
As the students walked by picnic tables, they were able to picture an emotional scene from the play, in which Tess meets with the son of a pastor. A small white house in the distance became the pastor’s house, where Tess was caught stealing milk. The students also looked at supplementary documents and pictures at specific moments during the play.
After the students returned from their walking audio play, they had a chance to share their thoughts and questions with Samuel Buggeln, the artistic director of The Cherry Arts. When asked about the event, a student said that she really enjoyed the experience. “I had never done a walking audio play before and I thought that it was really cool. I think that now, I’ll always associate the places that we visited with Tess. The play had a physical nature to it that I hadn’t experienced before with other media. I would definitely love to do it again.”
"This was a great opportunity for students both to engage with a new form of dramatic writing, but also to engage with the history of Ithaca in a complex, participatory way," said Braddock. "Radio drama has a long history that many have forgotten; the new technologies of recording and delivery that we carry with us all the time allow us to renew those older practices."