Figurski at the Findhorn on Acid: Radio Play

Link to Work: Link 1
Age: 18 and up
Type: Radio Drama
Language: 
Platform: 

Mentor: John Barber, Richard Holeton

Mentee: Marc Rose

Roles & Additional Authors: John Barber = producer and writer, Marc Rose = music composer and sound designer, Richard Holeton = original author

Short Description: Re-Imagined Radio presented The Voices performing a radio adaptation of Richard Holeton's epic and award-winning comedic hypertext novel, "Figurski at Findhorn on Acid."

Longer Description: "Figurski at Findhorn on Acid: The Radio Play" introduces a method for re-booting inaccessible hypertext literature by re-imaging the work as sound-based performance art, accessible via radio. Created in collaboration with the author, Richard Holeton, this radio play remediates the original comedic hypertext by focusing on one through narrative out of the thousands available. The shift in focus from vision (seeing the narrative portrayed as text on a computer screen) to aural (hearing the characters interact, the soundscapes surrounding their interactions, sound effects, and music) brings the work to the mind's eye (imagination) of listeners, thus prompting unparalleled opportunities for engagement, interaction, and immersion. 

Mentoring Context: 

Richard Holeton mentored both myself and Marc Rose regarding his authorial vision and original writing of Figurski at Findhorn on Acid. His background information regarding character history and development, for example, was extremely valuable for Marc and me as we began production of the radio adaptation knowing that the skills and experiences of actors selected to voice the characters would be crucial to any success.
 
Figurski, the hypertext novel, is sprawling. How to fit its hundreds of story spaces into a one-hour radio drama? When we decided to focus on the three main characters in Richard's novel--Figurski, The No-Hands Cup Flipper, and Fatima Michelle Vieuchanger--at one location--Findhorn, an intentional New Age community--where they would seek, and find, the two mechanical pigs, Richard mentored both Marc and myself regarding what might be seen and heard there. He had visited Findhorn and his descriptions of the Universal Hall and activities at Findhorn were invaluable in determining sonic ambiences, character voice styles, and appropriate musical compositions the radio adaptation.
 
Richard never once told us how to write and/or produce the radio adaptation. I took this as a form of mentoring--"let me get out of the way and let you do what you do." Instead of telling, he asked questions. He sought to be mentored by both Marc and myself regarding the process of remediating his comedic hypertext novel into a comedic radio drama.
 
I shared all drafts of the script I wrote for the radio adaptation of Figurski with both Marc and Richard. Richard always responded with further background details and suggestions that I might consider specific nodes of his original hypertext for further information. Marc responded with suggestions for how my writing might more closely tie into, even foreshadow the various sound elements he was planning. My writing prompted his thinking for background sounds, sonic ambiences surrounding each of the three characters, and spatial sounds heard at different interior versus exterior locations.
 
In this way, I think we mentored each other regarding ways to approach and work with the essential components of our radio adaptation: scripted dialogue, music, and sounds (sound effects).
 
Richard traveled from California to Oregon to record his portions of the script. While in the sound booth, both Marc and I were able to mentor him on how to present his lines most effectively for recording, a new experience for him. In discussions between recording sessions Richard continued to mentor Marc and I on the history of his creation of the original work which we were in the process of collaboratively re-imagining.
 
In these regards, I feel that I was mentored by both Richard and Marc regarding writing for the (radio) speaker, rather than the (computer) screen. In return, I hope I mentored Richard regarding a new context in which to consider his work of electronic literature, and Marc regarding electronic literature and its constraints yet ample affordance in its computer-based context(s). He was unfamiliar with electronic literature before this project.
 
In the end, Richard, Marc, and I were attempting something that was unknown, and to the best of our knowledge, never previously undertaken, adapting a work of classic hypertext fiction to radio drama. We worked collaboratively, as partners in exploration of possibilities. We mentored each other, back and forth. The process was not top-down, the expert mentoring the neophyte, but rather a communal creative undertaking where expertise and experience was freely shared more laterally.
 
For this mentoring exhibition . . . Richard, Marc, and I hope, because of experiencing our radio adaptation of Figurski, participants will see, and hear, the central role sound can play in works of electronic literature. We believe there is more work to be done and welcome the opportunity to mentor and be mentored as we explore the opportunities of adapting electronic literature to radio storytelling.
 
Let me conclude with a teaser . . . Marc and I are presently engaged in this exploration on two fronts, first to adapt another work by Holeton, and second to adapt another well-known pioneering work of hypertext fiction to radio. I hope next year to be able to talk about both these continuing endeavors.
 
Thank you for this opportunity to further discuss Figurski at Findhorn on Acid, the radio adaptation. If I have missed the mark of your questions with my answers, please let me know. And, of course, if you would like further information, please let me know and feel free to browse the archival webpage I maintain for this project, available at www.reimaginedradio.net/episodes/figurski/index.html
 
This radio adaptation is part of a larger project called Re-Imagined Radio. From the Figurski page, please feel free to browse the rest of the website.
 
Bios: John Barber convenes with The Creative Media & Digital Culture Program at Washington State University Vancouver. His scholarship, teaching, and creative endeavors combine digital media art, Digital Humanities, and sound. His radio and sound art are broadcast and exhibited internationally. A current project is Re-Imagined Radio (www.reimaginedradio.net) which explores literary-media art and performance as radio broadcasts, listening events, live streams, and podcasts.