The Atlanta Radio Theatre Company (ARTC) will perform twice at Dragon Con in 2021. Be sure to come early to get a seat, since ARTC’s shows are popular and the best seats fill up fast.
The Friday evening show will be an adaptation of Jerry Pournelle’s Exiles to Glory at 8:30PM in Hyatt Centennial II–III, and the Sunday evening show will be Lady Sherlock: The Case of the Woman in Red at 7:00PM in Hyatt Regency VI–VII. There will be episodes of fan-favorite Rory Rammer, Space Marshal before the main performances each evening along with an episode of Mercury: A Broadcast of Hope, our daily podcast about survival after the zombie apocalypse, on Sunday.
ARTC has been part of Dragon Con from when it first began back in 1984 and has performed at the convention every year since—including virtual performances in 2020. The group was founded by a local radio personality and an actor/director who loves the medium and gathered in others who love it too, including people who understand the technical aspects of the form, such as sound design and audio engineering. ARTC is also fortunate to have many highly talented writers who can create compelling adaptations and original material, helping us keep the spirit of old-time radio alive.
The Daily Dragon asked ARTC voice actor/writer/board member Dave Schroeder about the audio drama company’s return to in-person performances at Dragon Con.
Daily Dragon (DD): For those new to ARTC, please describe their history and their connection with Dragon Con.
Dave Schroeder (DS): At ARTC we’re best known for our adaptations of H. P. Lovecraft’s horror work, as well as our science fiction, fantasy, and humor, but we have performed everything from classics like Treasure Island to romance stories.
DD: How has ARTC helped preserve their chosen genre, the radio play?
DS: The Golden Age of Radio is roughly from the 1930s, when radio was tightly woven into the fabric of daily life, through the 1950s, when television replaced radio as the primary form of home entertainment. ARTC draws on that Golden Age for inspiration, creating and preserving an art form where a blend of music, sound effects, and our actors’ voices transport listeners into a theater of the imagination where their minds provide the images, not television screens.
A nonprofit organization, ARTC is dedicated to advancing and preserving the art and craft of radio drama. Producing and performing our productions is only one aspect of what we do. Our mission also includes teaching others how to do radio theatre, from voice acting and audio engineering to Foley sound effects (named for pioneering sound effects artist Jack Foley). We also help aspiring writers understand the unique challenges of writing for a purely audio form of theatre.
DD: What more can you tell us about ARTC’s selections for Dragon Con 2021?
DS: Friday evening’s main feature is Exiles to Glory by award-winning author Jerry Pournelle and adapted by James Palmer. It’s the story of a young engineer who takes a nuclear-powered rocket to Ceres and has to thwart corporate skullduggery. Sunday’s featured performance is Lady Sherlock: The Case of the Woman in Red by Atlanta-area writer Tony Sarrecchia. In his steampunk alternate history, Sherlock is a British noblewoman and Watson is a clockwork automaton who helps her solve mysteries. The episodes of local writer Ron N. Butler’s Rory Rammer: Space Marshal that precede each main feature this year focus on a French mad scientist, with “The Island of Dr. Marceau” on Friday and “The Return of Dr. Marceau” on Sunday. The 1,430th episode of our daily podcast, Mercury: A Broadcast of Hope, will also be part of our Sunday performance. This episode is “All in the Same Boat,” written by local writer and frequent ARTC emcee David Benedict. Both main features have never been performed at Dragon Con before.
DD: How would you describe your experiences with ARTC, including onstage and behind-the-scenes roles? Is ARTC seeking new volunteers?
DS: I joined ARTC ten years ago because it was something fun that I could share with my then high-school-aged daughter. Over the years, I’ve tried my hand as a voice actor, writer, and occasional Foley artist. I’ve also served as a board member and worked on our face-to-face Sales Table. One of my favorite accomplishments is helping ARTC transition to selling digital versions of our performances on flash drives as well as traditional CDs. ARTC has been around long enough that our first performances for sale were on cassette tapes—we still have boxes with some of them around.
Early in my time with ARTC, I let folks know that I didn’t do horror because it gives me nightmares. I think that’s why the director cast me as the primary narrator in H. P. Lovecraft’s The Rats in the Walls at Dragon Con in 2012. I was truly terrified just reading the words of the script and the director knew my terror came through to the audience.
One of the joys of being part of ARTC is how the organization welcomes newcomers. Traditionally, we met to rehearse in one of our members’ basements in metro Atlanta. Newcomers would have a chance to read parts and participate from their first meeting. Now, we meet virtually on Wednesday nights at 7:30PM, so if you want to join us you don’t need to be within driving distance—just find a convenient computer. If you’re interested in giving ARTC a try, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll send you a link to the meeting.
DD: Have you expanded your ARTC skills into other creative endeavors?
DS: I’ve learned a lot from being part of ARTC and performing radio plays by many excellent ARTC playwrights. ARTC folks have been tremendously supportive of my journey as I moved from publishing my first novel in 2015 to soon-to-be finishing my tenth novel in 2021. My Xenotech Support science fiction humor series and Congruent Mage fantasy series draw on lessons learned from being part of ARTC and greatly benefit from ARTC folks helping to promote them. They’ve now sold well enough to help me achieve a lifelong dream of earning membership in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. I’ve very grateful to be part of such a creative and nurturing community. ARTC rocks!
You can find out more about the Atlanta Radio Theater Company at https://artc.org/.
Visit Dave Schroeder’s author website at https://daveschroeder.com to learn about his work.