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Youth Theatre Stages 'The War Of The Worlds'

Ariel Van Cleave
Actors with Youth Theatre Northwest prepare sound effects for their performance of 'The War of the Worlds.'

When the radio drama “The War of the Worlds” first aired in 1938, it caused mass hysteria. And now the actors with Youth Theatre Northwest are trying their hand at the infamous radio play with performances Dec. 2-4. 

At the time of the original broadcast, you couldn’t check Facebook to make sure aliens weren’t actually landing on Earth. People just believed it.


London Brunelle says capturing that same mood for the Youth Theatre’s interpretation of the drama has been one of her favorite parts about rehearsing.


“I’m having an amazing time because this is a very serious show. There are comedic elements, but mostly it’s very dramatic," Brunelle said. "It’s about aliens attacking the world, so it’s just very serious and I get to die. And I really like that.”


Her other favorite part? Finding the right objects, or as she calls them, instruments, to create the sound effects that really bring the play to life.


“It’s not like trombone, clarinet. We have jugs, and a pie tin, and some lunch bags and we’re making sound effects for alien machines and planes out of things you wouldn’t think could be alien machines or planes,” she said.


The kids have become amateur Foley artists. They’re adding the sounds of fire, sirens and even the dreaded moment when the doors of the alien ship open.


Mimi Katano is the artistic director for the organization and says there’s an ulterior motive for having the kids develop those sounds.


“Hopefully it’ll allow them to think about playing with things that are not screen-related,” said Katano.


The kids hit the stage on Dec. 2-4. Details about the shows are available at the Youth Theatre Northwest website.

Ariel first entered a public radio newsroom in 2004 while in school at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. It was love at first sight. After graduating from Bradley, she went on to earn a Master's degree in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield. Ariel has lived in Indiana, Ohio and Alaska reporting on everything from salmon spawning to policy issues concerning education. She's been a host, a manager and now rides shotgun with Kirsten Kendrick as the Morning Edition producer at KNKX.