For 13 years, the Virginia Avenue Project has paired children of Santa Monica with film and theater professionals who help them to express themselves creatively in the performing arts.
Over the years, the youngsters in the free after-school program have written and staged an astonishing number of plays. Now they’re expanding into radio.
This year the Project’s playmaking program has created “Noise Makers! – Eight Original Radio Plays,” which were written by the children and will be presented in the style of the great radio comedies and dramas of the 1930s and 40s, but have also been influenced by such modern radio classics as the Firesign Theatre and A Prairie Home Companion.
Famed for their work on Los Angeles radio in the 1960s, Phil Proctor and Peter Bergman of the Firesign Theatre lent their advice and their sound effects to the new production.
“Noise Makers!” will be presented as part of the broadcast schedule of KVAP (Virginia Avenue Project). In addition to the radio plays, commercials, jingles, and audience contests will be part of the “live broadcast” experience for people who attend the upcoming performances.
To learn the art of radio playmaking, eight Project kids, ages 8 to 12, went through a five-week playwriting workshop taught by the Project’s Artistic Director, Leigh Curran. Tony Palermo, a radio dramatist and sound effects expert, introduced the young playwrights to the particular requirements needed for a radio audience, including sound effects and narration.
At the culmination of the class, each of the kids was paired with two actors and a director. Over a two-day period, the kids put their new knowledge to the test and wrote radio plays for their actors.
Audiences will be treated to the storytelling of the young playwrights, as well as to the sight of each of them and his or her director providing the sound effects for the performance
“Noise Makers” will open Friday, April 15, at 7:30, continue Saturday, April 16 at 7:30, and close on Sunday, April 17 at 3 p.m. at the 24th Street Theatre at 1117 24th Street in Los Angeles. Admission is “pay-what-you-can,” but for reservations, which are strongly recommended, call (310) 264-4224.The Project’s community partner is the Santa Monica Police Activities League (PAL), where it offers workshops, classes and academic enrichment programs. For more information about Virginia Avenue Project call (310) 264-4224, or visit the website www.virginiaavenueproject.org