Gorilla Theatre finds a place where it’s easy to turn people into statues.

Radio Plays 

Gorilla Theatre finds a place where it’s easy to turn people into statues.

It seems as if Gorilla Theatre has performed anywhere there are a stage and a few chairs. From deserted bathhouses to coffeehouse basements, the company has made a name for itself with such bold moves as staging Greek classics on the south steps of the Nelson-Atkins Museum and presenting Major Barbara in the same season as Missouri Repertory Theatre's handsome production.

Three years ago, as a benefit for KKFI 90.1's ten-year anniversary, Gorilla recorded William Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale in front of a live audience at the Westport Coffee House. Only now, however, is the production ready for broadcast. "There was a slight mishap," explains the show's director, David Luby. "The DAT [digital audio tape] broke." Luby and company have done some tweaking and re-recording, and this week marks the debut of A Winter's Tale on Luby's Sunday night KKFI show, Episode Irreverent.

"It was directed like an old-time radio drama, with the actors standing in front of microphones and sound effects," Luby says. "It is in five thirty-minute segments, which almost worked out to be each of its five acts; only act four is a little long."

A Winter's Tale is thought to be Shakespeare's last completed play, but it is one of his least-staged. "It's a romance with both comic and tragic moments, and even some elements of farce," Luby says, "but so is The Tempest, which is much better known." Luby suspects the play is so rarely performed because of the technically difficult scene "where the king, Leontes, turns his wife into a statue. But when you direct for radio, you obviously don't have to worry about the blocking. All you have to worry about is letting the words paint the character." He notes that A Winter's Tale was done as a radio play in England in the 1930s, though it is impossible to find a recording.

Bryan Colley is the sound designer for the piece; Bill McCray leads a cast of more than twenty actors that includes local theater stalwarts Gail Bronfman and Paul Burns. "I've heard bits and pieces," says Gorilla board president Tyler Miller. "Great sound, great atmosphere."

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