Radio Play Maker

I just received an email from Thomas Wagner an Austrian Playwright and radioplaymaker. He informed me about a meeting to be held to remember Jan Rys.
I met Jan who ran the Internationalen Hצrspielzentrums Unterrabnitz for the first time in 1976 or 77. The meetings were held in Unterrabnitz a little village in Austria in the provence of Burgenland which borders on Hungary. It was Michael Tonetzky who had a long and successful carrier in Polish Radio before coming to Kol Ysrael in Tel Aviv in the seventies who arranged for my invitation. I went there for quite a few years learning from listening the radio plays of the colleagues there and from the conversations that began after listening to the presented projects and then continued into the night. I met a number of people who became friends for years like Tibor Szoltensky, of the Hungarian Radio, [and his older partner who I called Lajos Batchee, Uncle Lajos, and Dorothee Frank of the Austrian Radio - ORF, and Manfred Mixner with whom I worked intensively when he was first the OFR in Graz and Vienna and later at the SFB in Berlin, and Wolfgang Schiffer of the WDR and Angela Sussdorffe than of the BR Munich and later of the WDR. There were many more friends and colleagues that I met there with pleasure over the years like Josef Schweikhardt, Frederike Mayorocke, Thomas Wagner and Jan Rys himseff. Among the high points of my early years was winning the acclamation of colleagues with the famous shlabbesz [or szlabbes] award which I received a time or two..

I had a job waiting for me at the Tel Aviv University when I graduated music school -- the position disappeared in budget cuts following the Yom Kippur, October War. The job was a result of productions that I had done for professional theaters and for the dance and theater groups of the Hebrew University.

I met a number of young teachers and graduate students about my age some of them friends till today.  One of them who worked for Kol Israel, the radio here, asked me if I would like to compose for a radio play that he directed. I did and just about everybody was pleased with the result and I was asked back to compose again.  

That time I asked for control of the sound affects in the mix to have all the non-textual aspects of the radio play fit together. I had other commissions for music and finally I said that I would like to direct the next play that I was asked to compose for. I forgot to tell the head of the drama department that I had never done such a thing before.  I did stress however that I had studied studio technique while an undergraduate at the electronic music laboratory at the Hebrew University.  Well, I got the commission and the play -  with the help of two seasoned actors was even successful. One project followed another in Israel and rather quickly I found that I had already directed some fifty plays.

The transition into the European market was a result of a visit by Klaus Mehrlander of the WDR in Cologne.  The Goethe Institute sent him to West Asia [Israel] to teach the natives [that was me and my friends] about stereo in radio drama.  Klaus gave a wonderful week or ten day workshop to technicians and directors.  Played some tapes for us but mainly organized productions of scenes in stereo.  At the end of the workshop he invited me to Cologne to view the studios and see productions in progress. This I did as well as listening to many wonderful productions on tape.  
Its true that I didn't speak German then  but the gist of what was going on and the musicality of the plays I understood.  At the end of that visit I had a burning desire to work in studios like those of the WDR.  But how to get there?  

I saw no way that they were going to invite a director from another continent to direct a play in a language that he doesn't understand unless...  yes, unless... he had written the play himself!

The only problem was that I had never written a play in my life.  And other than some poor poetry and one prize winning short story in college had not written anything --  well, maybe a seminar paper or two.
I got some lined yellow pads, some sharp pencils and went out to sit in a park and started to describe what I saw. The tree in front of me is about fifteen meters high etc. etc. etc. I wanted to get used to putting words on paper.  I remember talking or writing to my brother and telling him that it will take five years for me to break into the European market.  It did take five years and dozens of refusal letters and some false hopes of plays that were accepted by a radio play department only to be rejected by the program director.  

But literally with a few weeks I got acceptance letters from France Culture, Radio Bremen, and Saarlandische Rundfunk.  I was invited to direct first in Saarbruecken and then in Bremen.  The Bremen production was a success and I have since directed there on occasion.  The last time was August 2003 when I directed A Stone, just a Little Stone.

Latest productions:

1999 MicKrophones, or Two Voices in Search of a Life, WDR

Audio file of 1st minutes  (Click here to listen to the file 4,754 KB)

2000 The Argo Journey, WDR audio file of first minutes

The Argo Journey  (Click here to listen to the file4,050 KB)

2003 A stone,Just a Little Stone, Radio Bremen audio file of first minutes

A stone,Just a Little Stone  (Click here to listen to the file 2,678 KB)

For information about these plays please contact me or Mr.Guido Huller

These last two productions at the WDR were done in their new 5+1 surround sound studio. I had the pleasure of being the director invited to do the first 5+1 production there. What you have in the audio files is the stereo remix which was done for the regular broadcast

[A separate catalogue of works for radio is available from me]

I have directed my plays for radio at:

  • KRO Hilversum

  • WDR Cologne

  • SFB Berlin

  • RB Bremen

  • HR Frankfurt

  • BR Munich,

  • SR Saarbruecken

  • SWF Baden Baden

  • DRS Zurich

  • ORF Vienna

  • ORF Graz

  • RTB Brussels

  • Kol Israel Jerusalem and Tel Aviv

  • Galei Zahal, Israel

Down Woods Down, one of the first if not the first radio play that I wrote.
It took ten years before I found a dramaturg that was prepared to do it -
Manfred Mixner, then head of drama at the Austrian radio in Graz.

Drag & drop support Down Woods Down  (PDF icon 14KB) *

Just a little story about the production. The team in Graz was very
friendly and sociable, and happy to have a guest director. They were also
extremely proud of the local rose wine. Schilchert, I believe is the name.
They took turns inviting me out in the evening to wine bars or restaurants
were they thought the best wine was served. For some reason I find it hard
to remember very much about the production. But the result was fine. The play was later broadcasted in Berlin and Cologne.


Drag & drop support  A Stone, Just a Little Stone (PDF icon 7KB) *

My radio play "A Stone, Just a Little Stone" was  broadcasted a number of times in Bremen with additional broadcasts by WDR, HR and Deutchlandfunk.

I would like to remember a friend who is no longer with us.  
Robbin - Reuven - Morgan.  He was a master in the art of radio drama.  
He introduced the genre of popular radio plays into the country and the
whole country in the days before television [which started here only the
sixties] would tune in hear his detective plays.
Morgan was a master director and editor.  It was said that he could edit
a months worth of plays in a single four hour session.  
I miss him.



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Hessischer Rundfunk Frankfurth radio plays

Conducting at the Bavarian Radio


Conducting a radio opera in Munich

The team in Munich

Dummy head stereo mic and me in Frankfurth

Tech Team Radio Bremen

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