You better listen to the radio

Generic Theater Company will perform “Radio Free America” this weekend, an original work by theater professor Ally Currin.

When director Maddie Shapiro, a senior, was unable to secure the rights to a play she found in a bookstore during her year abroad in England, she focused her directorial attention on the GW professor’s work.

“I had talked to Professor Currin about doing a play of hers awhile back but it had never worked out,” said Shapiro. The department board proposed she ask Currin for the rights to one of her original works. Currin then gave her the script and the rights to “Radio Free America.”

“She’s a great teacher and a great playwright. I was very excited to be doing one of her plays,” Shapiro said.

“Radio Free America,” which is making its debut in the Mitchell Hall theater, follows the story of five artists struggling to keep a radio station going in the midst of an attack in the United States. The show starts just after a major attack and portrays the characters in the aftermath.

“These artists are on a mission to soothe and distract people, to let them know that someone else it out there . doing whatever they can to keep art going, to keep it from being destroyed,” Shapiro said.

Shapiro is no stranger to Generic or to theater in general. In addition to spending her junior year at the London Dramatic Academy, she was the PR director for Generic during her sophomore year. Her work included making posters and programs, advertising for plays, representing the company on the theater board and choosing plays for the season. During her freshman year, she was an associate producer for Generic.

“When I came to GW, I wanted to be an actor and I was really set on that. I auditioned for everything. But when I went abroad, I discovered that I loved directing and that’s really what I wanted to do,” Shapiro said. “Radio Free America” will mark her directorial debut.

The small size of the Mitchell theater space was ideal for the production.

“The set is a cramped basement, and Mitchell has a very intimate feel that works well for it,” she said.

Like Shapiro, the five actors have past experience with campus theater groups. All actors are either juniors or seniors and have performed in at least one show with Generic prior to this one. Experience, said Shapiro, was vital in preparing the actors for the deep character research they would have to do in less than two months.

“We were lucky to have a great cast who had all done this before and knew what they were doing,” Shapiro said.

Shapiro characterizes the play as a drama, and urges people to be open to it.

She said, “Don’t judge it based on the synopsis. It’s a lot more about human being, about what we are and what’s important to us and what we’re willing to fight for and what we’re willing to die for.”

“Radio Free America” will be performed in the Mitchell Hall theater Saturday, Dec. 6, at 7 and 10 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 7, at 2 and 5 p.m. Tickets are $5.

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