One of the finest activities to participate in while traveling is attending a theater show. Whether it’s watching Romeo & Juliet at Shakespeare’s Globe in London or engaging in a performative reinterpretation of a García Lorca play at Madrid’s Teatro Real, the theater has always been an integral part of any travel experience.
If you are experiencing withdrawals from the lack of drama in your life, there are ways to bring the theater to your home. The art of podcasting has been steadily rising in popularity, and an increasingly popular category is theater podcasts.
Plunge yourself into these dramatic worlds today ::
BBC Drama of the Week
If you are a fan of storytelling, I recommend listening to the BBC’s Drama of the Week. BBC Radio 4 or Radio 3 launches a new podcast episode every Friday, with each episode telling a different and unique story. Some podcasters discuss dark mysteries, while others chronicle surprising romances. Their older episodes last a mere 5-7 minutes, while their more recent episodes narrate tales lasting almost an hour. The range in each story’s genre and length will ensure you never get bored of these weekly dramas!
Fireside Mystery Theater
Fireside Mystery Theater is a production studio that―for over a decade―has published monthly podcast episodes in a styled variation of the “old-timey radio” tradition. This particular series’s iconic characteristics include sound effects, musical acts, and an improvised score to evoke feelings of nostalgia in its older audience. The cast, a troupe of actors including host Ali Silva, specializes in the eerie and the macabre, so you’ll feel some chills. Until the theater group can resume live performances, check out their serialized radio plays and binge-worthy mini-series!
The Folger Shakespeare
The famous Folger Shakespeare Library owns this eponymous digital platform, where students, scholars, and lovers of Shakespeare can read all of his plays, sonnets, and poems for free. Based on Capitol Hill, this private library hosts performances of works inspired by this iconic playwright at the Folger Theater. Further, with their publishing partner Simon & Schuster Audio, the Folger Shakespeare made audio recordings of the most famous Shakespearean plays accessible to the public. Heed the words of the highly influential Hamlet, observe the tragic romance of Romeo & Juliet, or educate yourself on the history of Richard III. You can’t go wrong with the classics!
You can listen to excerpts and purchase recordings of these performances on their website. The Folger also offers a terrific podcast called Shakespeare Unlimited, which you can listen to on iTunes or Spotify.
Editor’s note from Cassandra:: The Folger Shakespeare Library is also a wonderful place to visit for their exhibits, library, and live theater – next time you’re in Washington, DC.
The Parsnip Ship
In today’s world, uplifting the voices of marginalized communities is extremely important. That is why the Brooklyn-based Parsnip Ship is such a fantastic organization: they showcase the creative works of emerging playwrights and offer these writers the opportunity to have their plays performed in front of a live audience. The Parsnip Ship also interviews the authors, giving them a chance to express their identities and how their sense of themselves and their life experiences tie into their plays. For example, Ashley Lauren Rogers’ “The Last Ring” examines a Japanese transgender woman’s life. “Delicacy of a Puffin Heart” depicts a lesbian couple’s hardships with physical and mental health. It is a valuable way to hear marginalized people’s authentic voices and learn more about our society at large.
L.A. Theater Works
Founded in 1974, L.A. Theater Works aims to promote the literary accomplishments of historically underrepresented playwrights. They utilize new technology to fulfill this mission and ensure these performances are accessible to a broad audience for free. The groundbreaking use of audio in the ’90s to capture audiences without the use of a stage has now evolved into a digital platform filled with educational programs, radio station performances, and the recorded in-person “radio-theater” Live Series. This organization’s dynamic role in the production of “audio theater” guarantees the survival of modern masterpieces and contemporary works that speak to the issues of our times.
Bonus :: podcasts about the theater
For all you fellow theater geeks out there, the fun doesn’t end with listening to podcasts of theater performances. Those who are deeply passionate about theater’s art, expression, and production can listen to a plethora of experts who host podcasts on show reviews, behind-the-scenes interviews, and repurposed theatrical experiences.
Variety’s Stagecraft with Gordon Cox interviews Broadway actors and examines industry changes.