Photo by Jacob Edgar
VENUS RADIO THEATER (www.listenvrt.com) opened its digital doors on October 14th, 2020 with the premiere of the first installment of their anthology audio play series, “Venus Radio Theater on the Air Presents.” Already racking up over 1000 listens across various platforms, it has all the trappings of an instant classic. VRT’s mission statement reads “to champion authentic voices that represent the diverse histories and stories of all people.” The Artistic Director and founder, Eric Emma, has a bold vision to “create a destination for people to discover all kinds of stories with the only limits being our shared empathy and imagination. We only ask that you leave your preconceptions at the door because we’re about to blow your mind with what’s possible in audio theater.”
The Harlem-based theater company began with a pilot program of twelve writers, with more than half being PoC, LGBTQI, Female, or Persons with Disabilities. Each production can take up to a year to produce because of the unmatched attention to detail and quality. Each story is casted by TV casting veteran Erica Hart (“The Body Type”, “Ray Donovan”), and features some of the best talent the industry has to offer. With over thirty actors cast thus far, more than 80% have been either PoC, Women, or LGBTQI. Beyond the quality of the acting and writing, chief sound engineer Andy Stein is highly skilled and takes great pride in creating every sound effect that is heard during the VRT broadcasts. Each episode strives to create a new world for its audiences to immerse themselves in that is filled with a bold flavor and feel.
“Calico M.D.” is now available on all major streaming platforms and is conveniently split into separate parts with recaps in between. The theater will release a new audio play monthly starting with “Destroy All Humans” in December 2020. Their first season, which will run through December 2021, has an all-star lineup of writers that includes James Anthony Tyler, Morgan Von Ancken, Manolo Morino, Ran Xia, Utkarsh Rajawat, Pedro Maranoto, Mike Revenaugh, Peter Zimmermann, Darnell Walker, and William Electric Black. They also have collaborations in development with Classical Theater of Harlem and Theater for the New City.
One of the featured writers, Ran Xia, a NYC-based playwright and director, says “we used to gather and receive stories together, in auditoriums, which literally means a “place for hearing”. So, by that logic, as long as we can create a place, virtual or otherwise, for humans to gather, to share tales, we can survive as storytellers, as theatre artists. I believe we’ve done that.”
VRT on the Air Presents’ upcoming shows features exceptional artists from stage, television, and film, including Pernell Walker (“The Deuce”, “Pariah”), Yoni Lotan (“Russian Doll”), Chinaza Unche (“Dickison”), Amelia Fowler (“It’s Burno”), Isa Goldberg (“Bull”), Molly Groome (“Eye Candy”), Carl Hendrick Louis (“Mindhunter”, 1984), Thea McCartan (“Orange is the New Black”), and Yurika Ohno (Maki). Artwork by Jacob Edgar