Atlanta Radio
Theatre Company

30 Years of ARTC – Harry Potter at Barnes and Noble 2003

This being our 30th anniversary, we thought we’d dip back into the past and recap some of our previous performances, triumphs and tragedies, in a series of posts. And don’t forget our Chronology! It’s not as detailed, but it really shows the growth of ARTC over the years. You can see all of the photos in their full size on our Flickr album!

As anybody who has seen us perform live knows, we don’t often go in for costumes. We also pride ourselves on performing original material. But who could resist the opportunity to come celebrate the release of the newest Harry Potter book?? In 2003 Barnes and Noble Perimeter invited us to come bring Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix to the citizens of Atlanta. We were competing against parties citywide, but we like to think we represented ourselves quite well against the other (somewhat mundane) readings and magicians that were peppering the landscape at that time.

ARTC in costume!

ARTC in costume!

This was actually a lot more work than you might imagine. First, we had to find a way to make it more like our style of audio drama, but we couldn’t do a straight up adaptation. It’s not our work, so we didn’t feel free to dramatize it the way we would normally. What we eventually settled on was a melding of an audiobook and an audio drama, where a narrator would carry most of the reading and characters would come in as appropriate to speak their dialogue. We did take the step of eliminating many of the “he said/she said” narrations to make it flow a little better.

Casting a spell on the audience.

Casting a spell on the audience.

 

Another big challenge was picking which chapters we wanted to read. Obviously we couldn’t read all of the previous four books, so we picked and chose based on our favorites and also on some scenes that the movies had left out.

Foley for the performance.

Foley for the performance.

Of course we also had live Foley sound effects. It was really gratifying to see the Foley artists get so much attention at this event. Of course we also had a few unwanted sound effects from the coffee bar behind us.

Our attentive audience.

Our attentive audience.

It was definitely an unusual venue, but also festive! We ran contests, did giveaways, and there was trivia. Everybody had an amazingly good time. We could see some adults in the crowd who had some familiarity with our craft having a grand time, plus the kids who had never seen anything like this before were enraptured. Of course some of it was the content, but many of them were enjoying experiencing it in a whole new way.

Jack Mayfield's Harry looks nervous.

Jack Mayfield’s Harry looks nervous.

And at midnight we unveiled the greatest surprise of all. When the boxes were cracked open, we pulled out our own copies and began reading from the first chapter of the new book as the audience broke ranks and made for the checkout counters. I think a lot of them appreciated being able to get a head start on their reading by having us perform it for them while they were waiting in line. Especially since Order of the Phoenix got off to such a dramatic start with a chapter entitled “Dudley Demented”.