Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Back to WAR OF THE WORLDS October 28


Full-Scale Performances Will Mark the 68th Anniversary of Welles’s Radio Broadcast

GROVER’S MILL, NJ: October 11, 2006—Returning to one of the most famous events in American radio, the David Sarnoff Library, in cooperation with the Hunterdon Radio Theatre and New Jersey Antique Radio Club, reprises its live re-enactment of Orson Welles’s 68-year-old broadcast, “War of the Worlds,” based on H.G. Wells’s classic story. This family-friendly event, which will benefit the Library’s renovation, is scheduled for Saturday, October 28, in Sarnoff Corporation’s auditorium in Princeton Junction, N.J.; there will be matinee and evening performances, with a special benefit reception after the evening show.

On October 30, 1938, Orson Welles and his Mercury Theater On the Air captivated the nation and set off widespread panic—especially in New Jersey and New York—with a dramatization of H.G. Wells’s 19th-century fantasy. Thousands of listeners across the country mistook the broadcast for news reports of an actual Martian invasion that detailed meteor landings in nearby Grover’s Mill, N.J., and aliens killing earthlings with death-rays. What resulted was mass hysteria, with residents fleeing their homes or joining to combat the “Martians.”

“David Sarnoff predicted and innovated the power of network broadcasting,” says Dr. Alex Magoun, executive director of the David Sarnoff Library. “Welles’s broadcast showed how the media could instantly encourage national hysteria as well as national unity. We think that’s a powerful lesson worth revisiting. Moreover, the Princeton Observatory and Grover’s Mill, where the Martian launches and landing were reported, are only a mile away from us, at Princeton University and in West Windsor Township.”

The “War of the Worlds” broadcast, which was written by Howard Koch and made famous by Welles is “arguably one of the best radio dramas of all time,” says William Spear, founder and president of the Hunterdon Radio Theatre. The group, which will stage the re-enactment with more than 20 actors, is “excited about the opportunity to work with the David Sarnoff Library and present its version of the broadcast.”

The sound effects and actors’ voices will be transmitted through 1930s microphones to 1930s radios, provided by members of the New Jersey Antique Radio Club. “Listening to radio theatre is an experience unlike anything two generations raised on television and the internet have ever felt,” says NJARC president Phil Vourtsis. “And to listen to the sounds of a Martian invasion through the radios of the time makes you appreciate how much the world has changed since the original broadcast.”

Performances will begin at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. The doors will open one hour prior to the shows, allowing visitors to tour the Library’s new exhibits on David Sarnoff and the Innovative Spirit and Six Innovations that Changed the World. All tickets for the matinee performance are $10 in advance ($15 at the door).

Ticket prices for the evening performance, which will be followed by a dessert reception sponsored by Grover's Mill Coffee Company, are as follows: adults 13-64 are $20 in advance ($25 at the door); all others are $10 in advance ($15 at the door). Chanteuse Samantha Chapman and the Red Planet Radio trio will perform period songs during the reception and in the lobby before the show. Tickets are limited and advance reservations are strongly recommended.

All funds raised from this event will support the David Sarnoff Library, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization housed within Sarnoff Corporation at 201 Washington Road, Princeton. The Library contains a museum and archives with the state’s largest holdings of RCA historical materials, and is dedicated to the understanding and promotion of electronic innovation for the benefit of humanity. The Library is open by appointment for tours and field trips. For more information, visit davidsarnoff.org on the Web.

The “War of the Worlds” re-enactment is made possible, in part, by the kind support of Sarnoff Corporation; the Howard Koch Estate; Hunterdon Radio Theatre; New Jersey Antique Radio Club; Grover’s Mill Coffee Company; and suite6design.

Additional assistance and funding has been provided by the Board of Directors of the David Sarnoff Collection and an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.

To pay for advance tickets, visit Paypal and direct payments to sales@davidsarnoff.org. Or, send a check to the David Sarnoff Library, CN5300, Princeton NJ 08543-5300, specifying the show and number and type of tickets.
For more information about the event or advance ticket reservations, send an email to waroftheworlds@davidsarnoff.org, or call (215) 885-2195 or 866-204-5798, pin# 7988 (toll free).