For Your Listening Pleasure
Yes, something a little different this week. Instead of my usual Saturday Review, I’m posting a two-part radio production of “Alice in Wonderland.” It’s from a radio show I recently discovered called the Columbia Workshop.
The time is the late 1930s. Radio is the only media, although television is under development already and will make a public appearance after World War II (late 1940s). Most radio shows are comedy, crime dramas and a sprinkling of Westerns that had broad mass appeal. But mostly crime dramas.
Into this cultural desert appeared CBS’s Columbia Workshop, a series of experimental programs – some informational, some drama, a few with musical themes (the later famed Bernard Hermann scored many of the shows and went on to score movies – famously Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver).
But back to Columbia Workshop. It was broadcast weekly and began airing in 1936, was off the air for a few years (1943) during WWII, then back on 1946-47. What you have to listen to here is the two-part radioplay, “Alice in Wonderland,” as conceived and directed by fledgling producer Wiilam N. Robson, who would go on to the helm of “Suspense,” one of radio’s most famous and most intense dramas, on the air for twenty years.
So here iis Robson’s “Alice in Wonderland,” the crazy story of a little girl who follows a white rabbit down a hole in her backyard. Back in its earliest days as a children’s book, it was probably thought of as a fantasy. By 1967, thanks to Jefferson Airplane, it was like psychedelic, man.