The 99.5 Radio Theatre/Mind's Eye Theatre (GRAMMY 2013 Grant)

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Founded as The 99.5 Radio Theatre in December 1966 by Baird Searles, then-head of WBAI-FM's Drama & Literature Department, the Mind's Eye Theatre revived the lost art of radio drama through truly inventive means. Each program was produced, performed and assembled by Searles and a rotating cast of actors drawn from New York City's burgeoning Off-Broadway theatre scene. Searles and company found inspiration in classic texts, such as Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" and the plays of August Strindberg, as well as contemporary authors like Samuel Delany and Diane DiPrima, while bringing a decidedly modern sensibility to the proceedings by using state-of-the-art sound effects as well as avant-garde techniques like chance-based composition. The company also regularly solicited scripts from WBAI listeners. The inaugural production was a dramatization of an early short story by Don DeLillo (author of White Noise and Underworld). After only three years on WBAI, it was the first in what would be a series of innovative radio dramatizations on Pacifica stations. The Mind's Eye adaptation of Samuel Delany's "The Star Pit" is beloved by science fiction fans to this day and was the subject of a 40th anniversary tribute at NYC's South Street Seaport Museum in 2007. Presented here are all of the known extant recordings of the Mind's Eye Theatre, recently preserved, digitized and now made accessible to the public thanks to generous funding from the GRAMMY Foundation.

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This project is supported in part by an award from the GRAMMY Foundation.

Click here to return to the GRAMMY 2013 grant page.