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Three Questions: an Interview with … Ian Grody April 6, 2007

Posted by William Spear in >> News, >> Three Questions: an interview with ....

Screenwriter, playwright, and author Ian Grody earned his MFA in Dramatic Writing from Tisch at New York University. He is the recipient of the 2004 Artistine Mann Award for Fiction, the 2006 Hemingway Society Hinkle Award, the 2006 Cinequest Film Festival Award for Screenwriting, the 2006 Ivy Film Festival Award for Best Feature Length Screenplay, the Venable Herndon Screenwriting Award, The Bristol Drama Society Playwriting Award, and the 2004-2006 Goldberg Fellowship & Scholarship (Tisch).

Ian’s plays have been presented by The New York Collective For The Arts (NYC), The Kennedy Center, The American Globe Theatre (NYC), Center Stage Theater (Santa Barbara) and The ArtsCenter (North Carolina). Ian’s prose writing has been published by Kent State University Press and The New York Collective For The Arts- as well as by theatres in Prague, England, Canada, and New Zealand.

His stage play, Old Faithful, was recently selected as one of three finalists in the 1st annual Prague Post Playwriting Contest and we caught up with him just before the play’s 10 March 2007 performance at at Divadlo Minor in Prague 1.

. . .

LIT: Congratulations on your success with Old Faithful. What’s it about?

IAN: It’s a stage play about a promiscuous rabbi who attempts to negotiate with his reluctant blackmailer, a small time painter, who is also a member of his congregation.

LIT: Given your work on stage in Prague and elsewhere, what do you see as the similarities and differences between film, television, stage, and radio?

IAN: I see little resemblance between radio drama and film. Film is, to me, a visual medium, a way to tell stories with pictures, which of course radio cannot do. As the resemblance between television and radio drama is concerned, again I see very little, with the exception of the potential for serials. TV, like film, relies or may rely- in this era of crime shows- on pictures to tell stories, movement through space, and that, I think, is not suited for radio either.

LIT: So radio drama has no similarities to other storytelling media?

IAN: Stage drama and radio drama are qualitatively similar, or seem so to me, since both use dialogue and sound cues to express narrative action. You’re not going to find a bullfight in a stage play, although you might find a very vivid description of one, just as vivid to an audience when delivered over the air.

LIT: How can radio dramatists and producers find more listeners for their stories?

IAN: Maybe doing serialized radio programs, available exclusively on the radio or available on the radio first and then on the Internet, on iTunes. Perhaps, including name talent in the casts of the radio serials, which- I understand- is easier said than paid for.

LIT: You nailed that. Anything else?

IAN: Advertising always helps, too. Informing young people that here is a free source of entertainment. In any case, serialized narratives, which an audience can follow from week to week, is my main suggestion. Radio plays and one-time performances are definitely tougher sells. 

LIT: What is your favorite piece of radio drama and why?

IAN: I’m no radio drama expert. But I’ve heard a few radio dramas. My favorite has to be The Man Who Was Thursday, which Orson Welles did. I love the Chesterton book and I’m actually working on a contemporary film adaptation of it, right now. It was an education for me, seeing how Welles adapted the book for broadcast. And Welles has got that voice.

LIT: One last question. If Radio Prague asked about performing Old Faithful on radio, how would you go about adapting it?

IAN: Okay, Bill.  If Radio Prague were to call me and request an adaptation of Old Faithful, naturally I’d jump at the chance.  It’s not a tough adaptation as all of the dramatic action is expressed through dialogue, and a maximum of five or six additional lines of dialogue could be substituted for all of the stage direction in the entire piece.  Otherwise, doors opening and closing are easy sound effects. No, it’s not a play that relies heavily on images.  For that reason it is actually quite suitable for radio.

. . .

Thanks for sharing your insights, Ian. We look forward to hearing Old Faithful. Anybody have contact details for Radio Prague?

Post Script: On 19 March, as part of the final evening’s performances, Old Faithful was awarded the Audience Prize. Congratulations, Ian.

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1. Jens Hewerer - April 9, 2007

Ian has it right suggesting serialized audio theater. Keep in mind that soap operas started out on the radio! And producing a podcast would certainly be easier and cheaper than a video podcast.


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