ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Live theatre is one of the many things that have come to a halt in 2020 because of COVID-19. Despite that, a group of playwriting students at Central New Mexico Community College has found a way to combine an old way of telling stories with a new one to reach audiences: radio theatre.

Students of the fall 2019 playwriting class have produced the stories they wrote for the class. While they weren’t able to see their stories played out on the stage, their teacher Leonard Madrid wanted to make sure the shows still went on.

Madrid works for Blackout Theater Company in Albuquerque, which makes their own podcasts, and is how the idea for this project came about. “It’s like we’re going back in time,” Madrid said. “I think what happens is we tend to misinterpret what a podcast is and forget that there’s a whole realm of fictional podcasts out there, so this fits in perfectly and tends to be a nod to those old radio shows.”

Most of the students participated in a few different productions at varying capacities. Students would perform their lines while in a Zoom call with the other actors, all while recording to their own individual devices to get the best quality of audio.

Liam Hoch, a writer of one of the plays, said he appreciated the opportunity to gain new skills through this experience. “COVID aside, I think it’s been a really interesting learning process and something I really appreciated having to do,” Hoch said.

Hoch was surprised at how many people came to audition for roles and help with the productions and believed it was because through the online format, participating is more accessible to the community.

Anastcia MacArthur had roles in a few of the one-act plays. She said the most difficult part of this process was losing the social aspect of meeting with other actors and crew members from the show. “You would bond with your castmates while you were backstage or before rehearsals,” MacArthur said. “It was sad not to see people in person, but we still tried to talk and find times to have times that weren’t just work and have fun.”

Each of the students and Madrid expressed excitement at the prospect of finding new ways to tell stories. “That’s a shift I hope we see moving forward. I love the concept of being able to reach out to a bunch of people with a normal theatrical production,” Hoch said. “I do hope people start looking at the possibilities of what traditional theatre can be.”

For a full list of the shows and their descriptions, visit CNM’s website to listen online.