Audio Drama is Trying to Find its Voice

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Every form of storytelling possesses a unique style. Take the same story and make both a movie and a play out of it and the two will have the same elements – characters, plot, theme – but the feel of the story will be entirely different.

A poem tells a story in a way in which a novel could not.

A novel tells a story in a way in which a television series could not.

Even a TV series tells stories in a different rythm and effect than a movie, though the two are very similar.

The inflections that each genre places upon certain aspects of the story (a book is best at internal emotions while a movie is focused on physical events) help a genre to stand out from the rest and tell a story that only it can tell.

But what about audio drama?

What kind of style of storytelling does audio drama give that makes it unique enough to be called an audio drama rather than just a movie with the video cut out. Or, the reverse, it’s just a glorified audiobook.

Each genre emphasizes something.

Novels emphasize words to inspire the imagination.

Plays emphasize the personal feel that real people, real sets and real costumes lend to the drama.

Movies emphasize non-verbal action and gestures, and to some extent voice inflection.

But audio drama is the king of audio. It combines voice inflection with music and sound effects to do what neither a movie or a play can do – create a picture in the listener’s mind. Whereas a novel uses words, an audio drama uses sounds. Whereas movies use pictures, audio drama uses imagination.

And using the imagination of the listener is far more personal and engaging than CGI.

Over the past few years, audio drama has been establishing its narrative flow and style. It is trying to prove that audio drama have a unique “voice” that the world needs to hear.

But a lot of otherwise good audio dramas lean towards the safer, traditional style of being little more than a full-cast audiobook or a movie without video. They don’t take the opportunity – though it’s hard work – to create an audio drama that tells a story in a way that only audio drama can tell.

And that makes all the difference.

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